Acrimony appears to be the legacy of years without a clear American vision, and without voices of inspired leadership guiding a quickly changing nation. Every American community has been undergoing transitions for years. Latinos are the largest ethnic group in the U.S. today. In Texas, the year 2020 is key. This is the projected year that the Latino population becomes the state’s majority population. Former Texas State Demographer Steve Murdock projects that the Non-Hispanic White population will remain stagnant, and then decline by 2040. This is a historical period beyond Texas, as our nation’s face will be changed. It is requiring the minds and hands of its young Latino community. What does this really mean for our American culture? That largely depends on our American will to prosper.
America’s core vision is wrapped around the belief of the free human’s potential, and the shade of flesh is intended to be irrelevant. Our nation’s vision supercedes the influences of traditional cultures that clearly enrich our everyday interactions through food, music, language, and the many subtle differences of human expression. In fact, this core vision of freedom is so founded in a higher truth, that it overwhelms rooted customs that restrict the individual from their potential. It inspires us beyond the boxes of disparities, because freedom requires the personal investment of the citizen’s heart.
We are struggling to define the balance of embracing diversity, and our comittment to our founding common Judeo Christian mission. Now, a young generation is challenging us to trace our actions to our core virtues, and be in moral alignment. Personal biases always influence decisions, and they did so over generations when we were a more homogenous and exclusive society. It was a period not so long ago that kept us in a smaller world. That reality is over, but we have become more distant from our primary vision.
Apathy increases every decade. We are agreeing to relinquish more freedoms, diminish opportunity based on our potential, and accept the lie that only the America of yesterday was worthy of God’s blessing. Instead of facing our reality of decades of broken families, loss of reverence for life, and distrust in human potential, we look to blame our failures on those we least relate to. Perhaps it was santioned slavery, the social movements of religion, the New Deal, or the Great Society that kept us from confronting our own heart’s search for individual commitment.
We look around and see that we are different, but many of us want only the comfort and reassurance of Mayberry. We want Aunt B’s apple pie, and we want Gomer to make our car run again. We all want this sense of home and family, but its Tia Lupe’s tamales and Jose’s Garage that are meeting more and more of our basic needs. We are being challenged to sift through the touchstones of our American culture, and define who we really are. Our young American Latino community needs all of our guidance and support, to restore our commitment to family, inclusivity, and one strong national community.
We Latinos are challenged to quickly adjust to this new era of change that requires our voice. We are being thrust into the light like never before, still enduring the ire of many who see us as too different to take the reigns. We are learning to find our voice of leadership, negotiate the contradiction of humility and competitiveness between our primary cultures, and embrace our new role of influence in American society, all without having to justify our human value.
The emergence of the American Latino is an opportunity to fulfill the intent of ‘We the People’ by trusting in the core and bold beliefs of that sacred document. The work between communities involves arduous basic steps of guidance and connection, before knowledge is lost through the division of fear. Millions of young American Latinos are coming of age every year, and stepping into more and more positions of influence. I’ve dedicated a career to serving these communities, and I choose to see the opportunity before us. I choose to see young Latinos walking tall to the voting booths, realizing their talents and value. I choose to see Anglo baby boomers lending a hand, and sharing their earned wisdom to restore family and industry. I choose to reject the rhetoric of lost causes meant to divide our nation.
Our young American Latino community has emerged. They’ve inherited the legacy of so many before them, like my father. He was called to leave his world behind in Cuba 53 years ago. Without any knowledge of America’s history , nor realizing he was walking right into our Civil Rights Era, he trusted in one Divine idea. He understood that this land protected the free soul’s potential to soar fearlessly. The American experiment was tested on him. He faced ridicule for never mastering his new tongue, but he mastered something much more sacred. It was in this soil that he laid down roots as a free man, and scraped a path with sweat and sacrifice for his children, and those of others. He was in love with this land, and entrusted his children, grandchildren, and the community he built to it. In this soil we laid the old man to rest this summer. He was dressed in his American red, white, and blue, in gratitude for the nation that dared to trust a higher mission.
Maria Banos Jordan is the President and Founder of Texas Familias Council