Wanted: Latino Leaders

You know we have a lot of work to do when 74% of Latinos responding to a recent PEW Hispanic Center research poll couldn’t name a single important Hispanic leader. Unfortunately, there are not enough individuals from our community who are active, visible leaders in politics, business, health care or other high-profile areas. And even more tragic is that the lack of leaders reinforces the wrong idea in our youth that they aren’t meant for bigger and better things…that they can’t lead.

BBC Mundo had a great article last weekend that addressed the need for Latino leaders in the US. I don’t say the article was great simply because the Latino Leadership Council was generously quoted, although that was fun, but because it really delved into the need to proactively work to raise leaders from within our community.

Latinos in other Spanish-speaking countries can look around and see themselves reflected in all levels of society—doctors, politicians, teachers, entrepreneurs, scientists, etc. But in the United States, one really needs to search hard to see his or herself represented in leadership positions. Youth look around and are more likely to see people that look like them in low-paying service positions than employed as CEOs, doctors or governors.

Groups like the Latino Leadership Council and others throughout the country are actively working to empower the community and youth in particular to develop the skills and knowledge to become leaders in their chosen fields. But it is incredibly difficult without the appropriate role models for our youth to look up to.

The BBC Mundo article posits that there are various obstacles to seeing Latinos in leadership positions. One of them is that while there are Hispanics in those positions of power, many of them do not publicly identify themselves as Latinos for fear of being stigmatized as second-rate citizens. Other capable, potential leaders do not take on those roles for fear of scrutiny over their immigration status or that of their loved ones. There are also our women, who are kept from rising to leadership positions because of culturally-dictated gender roles.

Those are difficult societal pressures to overcome.

So how do we overcome this situation? As parents, we need to identify the leaders that do exist and show our children what is possible. Look for service organizations on campus and encourage participation by your child. Search for cultural leadership groups, conferences or classes, or when you see a Latino or Latina in a management position (and they are out there!), ask him or her for some time to talk with you and your child about how they got to where they are.

We can also step out of our comfort zones and begin taking on leadership responsibilities ourselves, be it in our neighborhood, church, work, city or any other place. Let our kids see us leading. They’ll follow in our footsteps and one day lead as well.

Work with organizations like the Latino Leadership Council within your area and learn what services are available to help you and your kids learn and employ leadership skills.

Together we can help shape the leaders and role models of tomorrow. Take the lead with us.

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5 Comments for Wanted: Latino Leaders

  1. Veanna says:

    Thanks for sharing. What a pelsaure to read!

  2. Bhanu chakraborti says:

    Atually, I am learning the spanish language, naturally I want to know things in that area–therefore I am interested but communicate me in spanish only.

  3. Pingback: 7 Ways to Tap into the Role Model Market | lideresyac

  4. This is the very reason “Inspira,” a webseries highlighting Latino leaders throughout the country, was created. We aim to reinforce the fact that Hispanic leaders exist throughout all aspects of society and their stories must be brought to light. I am a co-host along with Emanuel Pleitez. Please watch and enjoy 🙂

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