We’ve certainly come a long way from the times when Latinos like Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta and many others had to fight for the voices of the community they served to be heard. The work of these selfless leaders, however, is far from finished, which makes it even more imperative for us to put our actions where our mouths (and tweets) are.
Supporting a cause may seem a time-consuming endeavor, but the truth is, it takes so little to do something, i.e. we can create awareness within our sphere of influence, provide financial assistance, volunteer and/or press on our our elected officials. With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of causes I believe we should pay attention to this year. Of course, with so many issues affecting our community, it’d be impossible to list them all. I’d love to hear which causes you believe should also be prioritized. Please add them in the comments!
National Day of Service
While MLK’s quotes can make for highly repinnable memes, there’s an upcoming opportunity to bring his dream to life. United We Serve, the President’s national call to service initiative, has designated Martin Luther King Jr.’s Day (January 19th) a National Day of Service. The initiative is calling on all Americans to honor Dr. King’s legacy by volunteering in their own communities, with thousands of events going on around the country.
With both sides of the aisle now seemingly open to reach an agreement on it, laser-like focus on our part can ensure this long-overdue piece of legislation finally becomes the law of the land. We must continue to push our nation’s leaders to advocate for fair and comprehensive immigration reform that includes strong workplace and civil rights protections for immigrants, an orderly process for future workers to enter our country and a path to citizenship for undocumented workers and DREAMers.
In true #firstworldproblem fashion, we love to cyber-flaunt our latest culinary explorations (I’m guilty as charged). In the real world, though, millions go hungry every day all over the world, and also (gasp!) right here in America. In fact, of the 46 million U.S. residents who now live below the poverty line, nearly 60 percent are minorities (despite the fact that all racial and ethnic minorities combined comprise just 37 percent of the U.S. population). Out of these, according to Feeding America, Latinos are disproportionately affected: More than 1 in 4 (26.2%) Latino households are food insecure as compared with 1 in 10 (11.4%) of Caucasian households and 1 in 7 (14.9%) households overall.
What You Can Do: Tell Congress to Protect Anti-hunger Programs
We all take breathing for granted, but for millions of families, this essential life act could also be the most lethal. In a report published last November by Environmental Health News, communities of color are a greater exposure to pollutants like nickel, nitrate, silicon and vanadium – which are linked to a myriad of health problems, including premature death, cardiovascular disease, asthma and other chronic respiratory disease in children. Latinos in particular had the highest exposures to the largest number of these ingredients, which may explain why asthma is reaching almost epidemic proportions among our community.
What You Can Do: Join Moms Clean Air Force’s campaign
You don’t have to be a parent for the mention of Fort Hood, Columbine, or Sandy Hook to bring chills to your spine. While the trauma caused by these horrifying incidents still lingers, the only positive outcome from these has been the veritable outcry from the American public urging the federal government and Congress to take action to halt gun violence and to enact stricter, common sense gun control legislation. In order to prevent any further bloodshed, the time to act on this is now.
Effecting change in issues of global, national and local interest can be as easy as Theodore Roosevelt famously described it: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Only when we actively engage in solving the problems that ail us all will we become the kind of community we like to say we are.
Elianne Ramos is Principal/CEO of Speak Hispanic Marketing and Vice-Chair, Marketing and PR for Latinos in Social Media (LATISM). Under LATISM, she is also Chief Editor of the LATISM blog, and hostess to weekly Twitter chats reaching over 18.8 million impressions. Follow her on Twitter @ergeekgoddess.