What are some of the issues important to Latinos in America today? What issues are we passionate about and how do we go about getting involved in the political arena? These questions and more were addressed at the annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference that took place at the Los Angeles Convention Center. I was fortunate enough to attend as a member of the press, however attendees were required to pay a fee to attend the workshops.
Janet Murguia, the president of NCLR, addressed some of the topics at a press event on Saturday. She mainly focused on immigration and stated that the president still has the chance to define his legacy by the action he takes on issues like immigration. It's important for him to take action because it was the Latino vote that elected him. She also mentioned that "our community is in high alarm right now." There are so many anti-immigrant laws today and now it's come to the forefront how they are treating the Central American children at the border. NCLR is working to address these issues by helping to register more Latino voters. The Latino Vote has become very important over the past two presidential inaugurations. Representative Luis Gutierrez, a Democrat from Chicago, stated that in 2008, 2 million more Latino voters voted than in 2004 and in 2012 the same thing happened. Two million more Latino voters voted in 2012 than in 2008. We have become quite a power house and we have the power to vote on the issues that affect our community.
It has become so important for Latinos to vote at every election. It was our vote that ultimately elected President Obama this past 2012. It is our duty as American citizens to take part in politics and help make the decisions on who will represent our community. Some of the topics we should care about are immigration, civic engagement, health care, college, public education, home ownership, the work force, nutrition, parent engagement in education and sharing our immigrant experiences. These are just some of the issues that were addressed at the NCLR conference this weekend.
One thing I noticed about our Latino community is how there is very little media coverage in the mainstream media about the issues affecting our community. I believe it is our job as Latinos to educate ourselves about what is going on in our community. One way to do that is to tap into the media that is covering these topics such as Univision and Telemundo. Force yourself to stay informed about the topics affecting our community. I try very hard to watch the Spanish news at least 2-3 times a week because that is how I stay informed about the community. It is also important to vote during mid-term elections and local elections as well. Most people don't vote during mid-term elections and miss out on a lot of the laws affecting us locally. Ask yourself, "What is important to my community?" and let that guide you to become involved in what you are passionate about. Sometimes people focus on the national level's politics however this doesn't affect us as much as local politics. Find out who your mayor is and what they are doing to help your community. After you vote for your politicians, don't just stop there. Keep them accountable. Become an active citizen.
It is going to take a united front for us to really bring positive change in our community. You can use social media to educate your peers about the topics affecting your community. Remind others to vote on Facebook when election day is here. I am also guilty of not doing this on my blogging platform. I came back re-energized after the NCLR conference and plan on covering more political topics on my blog. Get more involved in organizations like NCLR and share the information with your peers.
I had an amazing time at the conference and hope to be a part of it again in the future. If you'd like to sign up for their emails, please visit www.nclr.org