It’s that time of year again when people all across America start making a mental note of their New Year resolutions. I’ve made mine too, like I do each year. I promised I would eat less pan dulce, watch less telenovelas (and exercise more) and meet my mariachi idol, Alejandro Fernandez. Just kidding. The first two resolutions are more realistic than the third, but they are resolutions nonetheless. On a more serious note, I spent a lot of time thinking about Latino’s who made an impact in the media this past year and jotted down some thoughts on what they should expect to strive for this 2011. Here are my top three observations and recommendations:
Numero Uno: The Dream Act
What it meant in 2010: Shortly after Vida en el Valle’s news maker of the year, Adriana Sanchez posed a question to then gubernatorial candidate, Meg Whitman at an October debate held in Fresno with California Gov. Jerry Brown, the Dream Act came out as an important and relevant issue to many undocumented Latino students. The bill received further attention after Fresno State’s college newspaper; The Collegian revealed Student Body President, Pedro Ramirez was undocumented. Thousands more across the nation decided to step out of the shadows to show their support. From coast to coast, they held vigils, circulated petitions urging their elected officials and representatives to show support for the bill that would give them a path to citizenship and an opportunity at making use of their college degree(s). The students worked quickly and effectively, rallying all the way to Washington in hopes it would pass during Congress’s lame duck session.
The result: Devastation. Newspapers across the country portrayed images of sobbing students wearing caps and gowns, while they held hands, only to learn the Dream Act came 5 votes shy of becoming a reality.
2011 Resolution: DREAMers already have the momentum and motivation to move forward. If they wish for the Dream Act to remain in Congress’s radar, they should continue to work hard for the type of changes that will affect their future in this country, for better, not worse.
Numero dos: Education
What it meant in 2010: Popular television network, Univision launched a national campaign to promote Hispanic Academic Achievement and College Readiness, Access and Completion. Their catchy slogan was, “Es el Momento” (The Moment is Now), in an effort to partner with community-based organizations to reach parents, students and the broader community to foster a college-bound culture. The campaign received major backing from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education and community, education and civil rights groups from around the country. To spearhead the campaign was popular news anchor Jorge Ramos, who has been a big proponent of education. The campaign is expected to be multifaceted and continue for the next few years.
The result: Fading Memory. The campaign was broadcast on all mediums of communication including TV, radio and internet (this doesn’t count all the thousands of dollars used for advertising), and it fizzled out shortly after its introduction in February last year.
2011 resolution: If Latino’s wish to make a positive contribution to this land of opportunity, (We call it, the United States of America) and if we want to have any influence in the decisions policy makers and elected officials will make in the next couple of years that could affect our needs as a community, then we need to get off our couches and chairs, turn off the telenovelas and hit the books. Statistics show that Latino high school and college drop out rates are at an all time high. It’s time for Latino parents to steer their children in the right direction to a brighter future by making them go to school and obtain a solid education. In the long run, they will appreciate a lifetime of higher wages.
Numero tres: Voting
What it meant in 2010: The Latino vote helped Nevada Senator Harry Reid get re-elected. In California, the Latino vote helped sway the vote in favor of Gov. Jerry Brown. The growing Latino population, as diverse as it may be, was a major force in the November elections. Every television network and major newspaper talked about the Latino vote as a powerful force- one that should be courted, respected and acknowledged.
The result: More Latinos registered to vote and came out in the 2008 presidential elections, than they did last year.
2011 resolution: Your voice is your vote and your vote is your voice. If Latino’s want to make an impact in 2012, we need to register to vote and actually VOTE on Election Day. Next year’s elections will determine whether or not President Obama will be re-elected for a second term. If we want the needs of our community to be taken into account in the political sphere, we must voice this concern by casting our vote and choosing the representatives we think will best represent our community and our needs. This does not mean choosing candidates that have Latino last names. Take the time to learn about the candidates, their positions, what they stand for, then go vote. Would you rather know your destination before you start driving your car, or drive without knowing where you are headed? By 2050, Latino’s are projected to be the largest minority in the United States. Our numbers will make a difference at the booths, so start registering early (it’s never too early) and be prepared to make an educated vote at next year’s elections.