Much ado is being made about the 2010 Census taking place this year. The Hispanic community in particular is being bombarded with messages that legal status should not prevent us from participating, that if we don’t participate we will lose out on federal funds and programs, that last time around thousands of us were not counted, and that as a result our communities did not receive the help they needed.
At the same time thousands of Latinos are being detained and deported straight from their job sites, employers are being pressured to eliminate undocumented workers from their work staffs, and much debate still remains about what ethnic group we can all be categorized under – even within our own community. Some prefer the term Hispanic. Others would rather be called Latino. Many more favor terms like Mexican, Mexican-American, Chicano, Cuban-American, Puerto Rican, Costa Rican, etc., etc.
And those 10 infamous questions do not even list Hispanic, Latino or Spanish as a valid race option – perhaps because we make so many distinctions about our own demographic.
Lately, for example, I’ve been hearing a lot about how the most recent generations of Hispanics – the ones who speak mostly English and hold college degrees – are the ones that are making the biggest impact on our community. That they are the ones that are voting, getting better jobs and leading us into new heights of success and acceptance in this country. That may be true, but why should we denounce who we are in order to gain wider acceptance in this society? When did speaking Spanish become a bad tag?
I like reading English newspapers and magazines just as much as anyone else. And yes, sometimes speaking, reading and writing in English is my preference, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s important for non-English speakers to have a voice. Education and college degrees are important! So are having pride in our personal backgrounds and standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.
I’m not advocating for a revolt against the 2010 U.S. Census. It is what it is, and we should take the 10 minutes out of our lives to fill it out, regardless of what our legal status or education level is in this country. Because it may very well impact how our communities evolve over the next decade. In doing so, however, let’s remember our differences should not be greater than our similarities.
Holding a degree and speaking the language better than others does not make us better than anyone else!
It is in our hands.