A few weeks ago, I sat and people watched for the first time in a long time at the Staples Center. At 11 pm, a Middle Eastern crowd exited the concert hall and filled the entire area.
Within minutes, cigarette smoke filled the darkened skies. Chairs and tables danced with one another. Arabic, I presume the language many of them spoke, rushed like spring waters. All the while, my existence was non-existent in their world.
There was a divide between the crowd and me. “They have money huh? Why is that they have money but we (Latinos) work and work and have nothing to show for it?” I silently asked myself. A good question I had an answer for. “Because money works for them, they don’t work for money.”
This got me thinking about minorities. I realize Latinos reinvesting in the Latino community as the Jewish, Koreans, Chinese and Middle Eastern do, is a surefire way of helping the culture move ahead, to rid public perception minorities are liabilities, abusing the governmental system.
Latinos and African Americans represent the largest minority population at 32.7-percent in the United States of America. Those numbers are much higher if undocumented immigrants are included. Latinos and African Americans are minorities only in numbers but equal in intelligence, ingenuity and work ethic. So we think.
20/20 performed a resume naming experiment consisting of the 22 whitest and blackest names. Each resume was identical in experience and education. Can you guess whose resume was downloaded the most? White-named resumes were downloaded 17-percent more than black-named resumes. Some involved in the study cite the complexity to pronounce black names. Others cite those searching resumes were white and resonated more with white sounding names.
Racism is fueled by media coverage. But some believe a shift is occurring. A Harvard Business school study showed anti-black racism decreasing the last 60 years but anti-white racism increasing, resulting in a zero-sum game that whites are now losing, yet economic position, home ownership, educational attainment and employment statistics favor whites.
Latino and African American cultures pride themselves on family, hard work and generational traditions. But are parents and grandparents teaching the next generation what they need to continue bridging the economic and social divide?
According to Feeding America, Latinos are disproportionately affected by poverty, food insecurity and unemployment. They are also more likely to receive emergency food assistance than their white, non-Hispanic peers.
1. Start Reading
It may sound odd to those who don’t read but reading changes lives. Reading has the ability to open your mind to new ways of thinking, to add clarity in confusing concepts life often presents. Reading is similar to air and water, without it people wither away.
Take a minute to digest these literacy (reading) statistics in America and the world:
-14-percent or 32 million American adults can’t read
-21-percent of American adults read at a 5th grade level or lower
-19-percentof high school graduates can’t read
-63-percent of prison inmates can’t read
-774 million people worldwide can’t read (approx. 11% of the world’s population)
66-percent of the world’s illiterate are women
(Source: US Dept of Education, National Institute of
In a developed country such as the United States of America, these are daunting statistics. What happens to the children of these adults who can’t read? How can someone teach someone else what they don’t know?
Reading begins at home. Parents, are you reading to your child? Are you teaching them pronunciation of words? Are you using interactive media to teach them difficult concepts? Are you making reading fun? If not, they may already be behind.
The public educational system isn’t responsible for teaching children how to read, write or add. That is a parent’s responsibility. Tax-funded or parent-funded, that’s the difference between public and private education. Here’s another way of putting it, who’s clothing your child, the government or you?
As parents, the goal is to set your child up for success by providing the best tools, education and resources available. As parents, you sacrifice for the betterment of your child and sending them to a parent-funded (private) school is the ultimate sacrifice. Assess your daily actions; is it for your child or you?
2. Obtain Education or a Valuable Skill
It’s no mystery, obtaining some level of education whether occupational, trade or college degree provides greater employment opportunities and increased life-long earnings.
Educating yourself doesn’t mean attending a prestigious university where annual tuition costs rivals mortgage values. Education is knowledge. Education is learning a skill and applying it to receive compensation. Education is a resource.
Minorities are beginning to understand education is the gateway to improved economic conditions. In today’s fast moving technological world, computers, networking, programming, engineering, data scientist and design skills are or will be in demand. And as long as people inhabit earth, health care related skills will be in demand.
Amassing hordes of student debt to go to college isn’t the answer. You must assess your talents, skills and abilities and align them in an occupation. Volunteer your FREE time to find out if it’s what you want to do. You are a business. You must think like a business. Create a plan. Set realistic and achievable goals to stay motivated. And constantly build relationships. After all, humans still exist, for now.
3. Start Thinking Positive
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 1 in 10 U.S. adults are depressed. Blacks and Hispanics lead the way, along with persons with less than a high school diploma.
350 million people worldwide suffer from some form of depression, in which women are affected the most. The statistics go on and on. I’m not going to bog you down (no pun intended) but show you the importance of thinking positive.
Good, bad or indifferent, your childhood shaped you. You decide what memories to recall, compartmentalizing traumatic events, the pain of abandonment, abuse, neglect. From the day you’re able to reason, you’re told “no.” How on earth can you think positive when negative events shape who you are today?
Positive thinking is a way of life. It is a mindset created to enjoy the beauty life represents. It’s contagious. It’s euphoric. Positive thinking begins by reshaping your mind to accept good and bad events as purposeful, with meaning for each occurrence. Unfortunate events will occur, but it is the interpretation of the event and how one responds that shapes your attitude.
Positive thinking leads to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, increased life span and resistance to common colds.. To begin positive thinking, you must train your mind to see the good in any situation. Despite good or bad, find a positive lesson to continue moving forward.
In my observation of Latino families, it’s easy to see how an individual can succumb to negative self-talk as 1st and 2nd generation family members use gossip and guilt to motivate.
Many are taught to internalize emotions, leading to pent up frustrations and feelings of entrapment. It is the hope 3rd generation Latino-Americans understand the powerful long-term effects encouragement, positive reinforcement and actions of love have.
To achieve monetary or professional status, you must believe you belong. You must harness the mind’s power to overcome obstacles sure to come your way from peers and more important, your own family members.
4. Learning to Invest
Minorities are among the lowest savers of all racial groups. According to the Pew Research Center, median wealth of white households is 20 and 18 times that of African American and Hispanic households respectively. The majority of minority net worth is in real estate and only 10-percent of Hispanics have an individual retirement account.
Business pundits believe minorities earn less than their white-counterparts, thus live paycheck to paycheck. That’s not a belief, it’s a fact minorities earn less but they save less as well. In addition to earning and saving less, minorities are inclined to financially support family members locally and abroad. In the Latino culture, helping family is more important than saving for the future.
In minority households, helping family with food, clothing and financial assistance will stand the test of time, but it shouldn’t inhibit your opportunity to invest in real estate, business opportunities and other sound investments.
Make money work for you. Grow your money. Put yourself in positions to learn from others who succeed at growing their money. You are a millionaire…in the making. You are the greatest influence in your life. Contrary to societal belief, no ceiling exist, you can achieve much in life if you work hard.
Build a business. Write a book. Create a website. Use your God-given talents. Although you’re employed with retirement and health benefits today, tomorrow is not guaranteed. Similar to welfare benefits, a job or career is temporary; it’s a foundation for you to continue toward your dreams.
The greatest step you can make to begin investing is to read. Educate yourself. Find what interests you and master it. If real estate investing fascinates you, create or join a real estate investing group. Find out what people are doing, how they’re doing it, how they’re obtaining financing, etc.
If owning your own business calls you, identify your passion and practice it. Find others who are already in business earning a living and study them.
You must think like you already have. You must learn from those who already succeeded. The level of effort you make dictates the level of success you will achieve. NO excuses. The time is now.
5 .You are Built for Much More
You are a minority. Society and government place this label on you. Not much is expected of you. Poverty, lack of education, obesity, illiteracy, disease…all are neatly packaged in the label “minority.” Sadly, many of you will quietly accept this fate without asking the question, “Why?”
You may think you’ll never achieve the status of the one-percenters, a sect of society who enjoys a comfortable life. Stop?! You must believe you’re built for much more, much more than the job you occupy, home/apartment you rent, outdated car you drive or clothes you wear.
Though a social and economic divide exist in America and the world over, you must thwart its pressure to lie down, to accept your position in life.
You are born at a disadvantage because of your race. Let it die there.