The New American Reality
Christina E Rodriguez, Special to CareerBuilder
The United States is swarming with Latinos. Everywhere you look -- Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta -- Latinos are there. Between 2000 and 2009, the U.S. population grew by nine percent, the Latino population being 37 percent of that, according to the Population Reference Bureau's Population Bulletin Update 2010.
In actual numbers, Latinos account for approximately 50.5 million people, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. However, even though Latinos have made their impact on the population, they are still less likely to hold a position in managerial, professional or related occupations as compared to whites or Asians, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
It's typically a cultural issue, says Martin Castro, co-founder of New Futuro, a new Latino initiative to get Latino students into college and beyond. The reason why students don't invest in their futures is because they have to support their families and take the job when offered. Investing in their futures through college allows for more Latinos in higher positions in the workforce.
The growth of the Latino population is phenomenal and exponential -- just ask any marketer or businessman -- but in order for this population to prosper and no longer be overlooked, Latinos have to start taking their futures more seriously and working together, embracing our differences, says Elma Placeres Dieppa, an experienced marketing consultant.
The problem that she has seen is what is known as the crabs in a pot theory: in order to succeed, and get out of the pot, crabs grab each other and pull each other back down. Latinos do the same, working against each other in competition as opposed to lending a helping hand.
"We function from an angle of scarcity, which is not the way it should be," says Placeres Dieppa, who is of Cuban and Colombian decent. "No one will take us seriously if we can't take ourselves seriously. If we keep stabbing each other in the back, we'll always be the invisible nation."
Since the days of the 19th century, Latinos have made their mark on the United States. Since Mexicans became Americans in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo to Puerto Ricans becoming American citizens with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, the culture of Spanish-speaking Latino immigrants has been present within the confines of the United States. The only difference now is that Latinos outnumber other communities in terms of growth, something that gives Latinos just one definite title: procreators.
"We have to change or we're just going to be the minority that breeds a lot," says Placeres Dieppa. "Hopefully the younger generations will see the opportunities to unify."
Although there are challenges within the Latino community for those who were born in the United States-- a whopping 63 percent of all Latinos -- there are organizations and progressive movers and shakers that look to increase a sense of unity and put forth a positive effort for the Latino name. One non-profit organization based on the East Coast, Latinos In Social Media, is a nationwide initiative to unite those tech-savvy, college educated Latinos who have something to say.
"Having a strong sense of their place in this country and within their own culture, they have found the inner strength to own their voices: they have no qualms about speaking their mind on the issues that affect our community," says Elianne Ramos, vice chair of communications and public relations for Latinos In Social Media. "As a matter of fact, I would not be surprised if the high affinity and strong representation of young Latinos in the social media arena may partially be a consequence of their desire to have their voices heard."
And voices are being heard-- all the way to Capitol Hill. Not too long ago, LATISM was recognized by the White House for its work within the community and members of the organization were asked to attend session to help resolve Latino issues. These are the progressive movements that have been spear-headed by those with a desire to unite and create a better world for the Latino community within the U.S. Right now, the only thing that many can do is continue to work hard and hope for the best.
But ultimately, the reality is that Latinos are in the United States to stay for a very long time. In order to be paid attention to in the way Latinos need, they have to realize self-worth and importance and begin demanding better, says Placeres Dieppa.
"Granted, it may take a little time before we see a more concrete turnaround," says Ramos. "Hopefully, the wait is not too long, the fight is not too painful."
Christina Rodriguez researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for Empleos.