Once again our country has been divided and is in grief over the needless and tragic death of a man, a Black man who pleaded for his life while men who were sworn to protect and serve turned a deaf ear to his humanity and pleas of “I can’t breathe.” The outcry and anger are absolutely justified but each time there is a tragic event, emotions overflow. What are we doing to change the course of discrimination and racism in our country and community?
Mr. George Floyd is among countless other Black men and women in recent times who have lost their lives seemingly because of their color, not their actions. These lost lives are not only isolated to African Americans. In 1996, Anthony Baez, a Latino in the Bronx, New York, also died at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve. In 2019 in El Paso, Texas, eight Mexicans were killed and nine were wounded near the Cielo Vista Mall by a man armed with an assault rifle. The suspect told police he specifically targeted Mexicans and has been charged with federal hate crimes. According to The New York Times, this was the deadliest attack to target Latinos in modern American history.
Sadly, other ethnic groups are suffering the same fate. Now is the time for a commitment from our leaders of all colors to be proactive and make change. These appalling acts carry significant impact and consequences on our communities, especially among those that are targeted.
According to Salud America, 78 percent of Latinos in the United States said they face discrimination — and the number is even higher for African Americans, at 92 percent. A recent Stanford University study shows the discrimination and bias translates to the treatment minorities receive from law enforcement. The Open Policing Project found that police stopped and searched Black and Latino drivers with less basis of evidence than used in stopping white drivers.
Our country continues to be divided in many facets of our lives by one key word: Hate. But we as leaders of our community are being met with a defining moment of what is possible if we act constructively to enact change for good. As Americans, we are blessed with being the melting pot of the world, bringing cultures together and learning about our similarities we share. But as Americans, we must believe in our capacity to create and nurture our common good.
The award-winning Latino actor Edward James Olmos said in his speech to the United Nations in 2009, “I still find it incredible that we still use the word ‘race’ as a cultural determinant… I detest what we’ve done to ourselves. Out of a need to make ourselves different from one another, we’ve made the word ‘race’ a way of expressing culture. There’s no such thing … The word ‘race’ as if there is a Latino race, and Asian race, and indigenous race, a Caucasian race. There’s no such thing as a Latino race. There never has been. There will never be. There’s only one race, that is the human race, period.”
Our nation is undoubtedly in the midst of challenging times, and as leaders we can step forward collectively to take advantage of this crucial opportunity to unite, take action, and make positive change.
As an economic development organization, the Hispanic Chamber is committed to creating a more inclusive economy through advocacy where minority-owned businesses are asked to the dance and provided equal opportunity to prosper. We encourage you to support Hispanic and minority-owned businesses. We will continue to find ways to build collaborative relationships with other community leaders to leverage each one’s collective resources for the greater good of our Colorado Springs community.
We live in one of the greatest cities in America and want to ensure we look forward with vision to unite, and act together for the good of our community. It is paramount now, more than ever, that we, as minority leaders, work with our city leaders and law enforcement to be proactive and put plans and policies in place to avoid a tragedy like the one in Minneapolis. In times of crisis comes opportunity to build a better future together that includes all small businesses, solopreneurs and entrepreneurs. We need to defeat the status quo! We as Americans must move forward together as one with compassion.
Concilio Hispano de Empresas de Colorado Springs
The mission of the Hispano de Empresas de Colorado Springs is to promote and serve Hispanic business and its members, creating, developing, and improving business growth and sustainability.