Ed. Note: Many of you have signed up to host a roundtable in your community as part of President Obama’s “100 Roundtables” Initiative. We’ve received some great feedback from folks all over the country, and had the chance to participate in several as well. If you would like to participate in the initiative, just click here. Fresh off the email machine, here’s a guest blog post from the great folks in Arizona who hosted a roundtable.
On Friday, March 25, we brought a group of young Latino adults together at the Arizona Latin@ Arts & Cultural Center in downtown Phoenix to talk about the issues most important to us and our community.
This conversation couldn’t have come at a better time given the recent data released by the 2010 Census showing that the majority of young people under the age of 18 in Arizona are Latino. Even though the group was small, it was professionally diverse. We had representation from various professions, including educators, small business owners, business representatives, non-profit directors, elected officials, students, activists, and even Hollywood star America Ferrera.
During the almost 3-hour discourse, many issues were raised, including providing quality educational opportunities for Latino youth; supporting small businesses and community-based organizations to build community capacity; integrating the impact of Latinos in the United States to the broader American story; engaging young Latinos and increasing their leadership potential; and the need of a much clearer, concise message about the accomplishments this Administration has made on behalf of Latinos and other underserved communities.
A passionate and straightforward conversation for Latino concerns was never in doubt, especially when stressing the need to pass the DREAM Act, an important piece for the educational advancement of students of Latino descent; discussing the need to streamline the citizenship process, making it more efficient, effective, and accessible; and when deliberating about the necessity to better define and modernize immigration enforcement efforts to avoid having innocent children and families mistaken for criminals.
America Ferrera reminded us that we can make the choice to take on more leadership in our communities. She stated, “We don’t have to wait for anyone. We can define who we are and what we stand for.”
These community conversations are essential to help cultivate and develop new leaders, in addition to reenergizing those of us who have been disillusioned. Not to mention they are also a great way to bridge the geographical gap between Washington, D.C. and Phoenix, AZ.
We will continue to bring people together from different constituencies throughout Phoenix to make sure we’re doing our part to win our future. As passionately expressed during our roundtable, it is time we work FOR issues instead of working AGAINST them.
The Latino youth in Phoenix, AZ are ready.
Luis C. Arellano is a Youth Leader and Philanthropist in Phoenix, Arizona.