Do Latino teens have anyone Hispanic to look up to?

Latinos are the largest minority segment in this country. Yet, even with remarkable increases in population growth and purchasing power, Latinos are struggling. It is true that Latinos are underrepresented in television shows, the movie industry, and even mainstream media, but that does not mean that leaders don’t exist. Sure we could benefit from stronger, more prominent figures, but that is not the issue. The next generation doesn’t look up to those who have paved the way because they aren’t aware. How can they be influenced when they see an image of Sonia Sotomayor and they confuse her with their mother’s friend that cleans houses for a living? As of today, we should give ourselves an “F” because of our inability to engage our youth. We need to educate them on the successes and failures of our current leaders. It is imperative that we build the Latino community from the bottom up. This is where we need to take a page out of the African-American community’s playbook. There is still progress to be made within the black community, but they have strong established leaders that are an inherit part of their history, culture and future.

Community involvement can go a long way. Right now all we’re doing is providing these youngsters with safe places to hang out, but it has to go deeper than that. Currently I think what’s lacking is an interest in the Hispanic community as a whole. We need to find a way to spark interest in the betterment of underprivileged Hispanics. We need to create some kind of movement that challenges people to see a bigger picture. The focus needs to shift from individuals to whole groups. If this can happen, strong minds will begin to emerge. It’s awareness efforts like these that create leaders.

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