The Future is in Your Hands: Vote on November 6th

Posted on 10/25/2018 @ 01:28 PM

Dear LULAC Familia and Voters of America,

As I look across our nation, it is clear our moment is here and history is calling us.

  • In Dodge City, Kansas, a town infamous from the Wild West for its gunslingers and shootouts, there is lawlessness again. Dodge City is now 60% Latino residents so election officials moved the one and only polling place out of town and are literally telling Hispanics to get out of Dodge to vote.
  • In Texas all-time records are being set by early voters turning out in some areas 2-1 Latino Democrats but they are forced to wait in long lines under a hot sun because only a few polling sites are open while others are being closed early before Hispanic workers can leave their jobs.
  • And in Georgia, new Latino and African American voters have registered in unprecedented numbers only to see their names ripped illegally from the roles under the pretext they don’t have sufficient identification and election officers are hoping to run out the voting clock.

My friends, none of this new. These are the same dirty tactics and practices of the past again raising their ugly head to scare Latinos and tell us our vote doesn’t matter. Mentira! Never has each and every vote counted more than now. Tu cuentas, yo cuento, todos contamos!

Our fathers, brothers, sons and daughters have served, sacrificed and died in this country’s armed forces so that we can vote. Our leaders have marched, protested, sued and gone to jail for the right to vote. We are ready to stand and fight for the right to vote! It is our nation too and we will not let anyone deny us our voice at the polls. Basta!

When a nation hears code terms about Latino immigrants called rapists, criminals, drug-dealers and gang-members, all our community suffers. When Latino refugee families desperate to flee hunger, violence and certain death are torn apart and turned away at our border, it is you and me people point a finger at and call us invaders, diseased and animals.

Right-wing supremacist politicians and their followers count on fear and anger to stir up their hatred but our answer is peaceful and much more powerful. It is nuestro poder increíble, our incredible power to vote as American citizens in 2018. With resolute hearts and trust in justice for all human beings, we can and must reclaim America.

Recuerda, our beautiful Raza has overcome despite primaries with all-white males, days of poll taxes required to vote and gerrymandering of districts to dilute Latino voting power. We will fight fiercely the illegal new voter ID laws, wrongful purging of voter registration rolls and the unfounded filing of criminal charges against Latino seniors voting by mail, etc.

Let us stand up now against injustice as our grandparents and parents did. They taught us through their example con ganas fuerte de justicia para todos! We must fight back with el golpazo de votos so that all of America hears our gritos por justicia. We will never bow our heads, be neutral in the face of wrong nor keep silent in the presence of discrimination.

I urge you to make sure that every LULAC member takes 10 people to vote, and texts 10 more to go vote porque nuestra Raza nunca se raja! El respeto se gana, respect is earned. Let the crooked politicians know that no matter how much they try to cheat and rig elections, we will not be discouraged, deterred, nor turned away.

History will one day judge each of us in this time in which we are living. What do we do in the face of injustice? Did we meet the challenge or did we cower from it and denied doing anything about what we witnessed? Was our voice raised, our vote cast or did we go silent and become indifferent?

Never forget los valientes, those who fought the police brutality inflicted by the Texas Rangers, those who marched with Cesar Chavez when they knew hired goons with nightsticks were waiting, and those who were called spics, greasers, wetbacks, or told to go back to Puerto Rico or Mexico. They did not back down. Nor must we.

I urgently call upon all of today’s LULAC familia and all our Raza voters to organize and mobilize our gente to vote! The road to the State House, Congress, and the White House goes through our barrios, colonias, y nuestras casas. Nadie llega sin nuestro voto! The hands that pick our food, build our cities, clean our homes, run our trucking systems, unload the ships at our harbors and care for our children --- these same hands now hold the power in them through the vote to change America for the next generation. I pray we will do so y que Dios nos ayude y bendiga.

Hasta La Victoria!
Domingo Garcia

Brain Health in the Hispanic Community

Posted on 10/26/2016 @ 12:45 AM

Credit: Latino Briefs Digest

By: Yvette Peña, Vice President, Multicultural Leadership Hispanic/Latino Audience Strategy, AARP

Do you worry about your brain health declining as you get older? Most people do.

And members of the Hispanic community have as much reason as anybody else: We have a higher rate of Alzheimer’s disease than the overall U.S. population, and many of us have risk factors that could spell trouble when we get older.

But we shouldn’t be passive about it. Most people can do more to stay sharp as the years add up.

My own family illustrates the challenge.

I remember my Tia Ramona as a smart, dedicated and loving woman, living in an apartment filled with children’s books. She had been a teacher in the Dominican Republic. Then, after moving to New York, she ran a child care program out of her home, teaching many kids how to read.

But about nine years ago, Ramona was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Now, in her late 80s, she needs help with the basic activities of life.

My mother is still vibrant at 75. But like Ramona she has diabetes, which is a risk factor for cognitive decline. She is starting to worry that she can’t remember things like she used to.

Looking back on my life, I think about how my family members could have benefited from education and resources on the basics of a balanced diet, and how the food we eat can affect our health.

This is vital information for the Hispanic community. We have above-average rates of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, stroke and heart disease – all risk factors for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

So it’s important to do what we can to stay mentally sharp. The good news is there are plenty of steps we can take to help ourselves. AARP points to “five pillars” of brain health, based on the latest scientific research: keeping fit, eating right, learning more, managing stress and being social.

I know it can be hard to get off the couch and start exercising regularly. If you’re like me, it helps to make exercise more social. Find an exercise partner. Go on regular walks with a neighbor or friend. Are you concerned about your mother’s fitness? Take her with you to Zumba class. (I realize you may not take Zumba, or she may not live nearby – but you get the idea.)

One of the great strengths of the Hispanic community is our devotion to family. My Tia Ramona will never lack for caregivers. She was a mother to us all. She gave so much. Now it’s our turn to give back to her. And I know others feel the same way about their loved ones. In our community, families take care of their own.

But, of course, we all want to stay independent for as long as we can. That means we should make a priority of eating right, getting exercise and doing all the things that can help preserve brain health – not just for a few weeks or a short-lived New Year’s resolution but as part of our lifestyle.

These common-sense practices are good for everyone. And that certainly includes the Hispanic community.

To learn more about what you can do for your own brain health, you can find helpful information (in Spanish) at http://www.aarp.org/espanol/salud/salud-cerebral. For tools and resources (in English) go to https://stayingsharp.org or http://www.aarp.org/health/brain-health/global-council-on-brain-health.

LULAC and SeaWorld San Diego Empower Latino Youth at Far West Regional Youth Conference

Posted on 10/05/2016 @ 12:45 AM

By: Cristina Sandoval, LULAC National Workforce Development Programs Coordinator

LULAC is dedicated to cultivating the next generation of leaders by exposing underserved youth to opportunities that can shape their future career goals. In April of 2016, LULAC hosted the Far West Regional LULAC Youth Conference in partnership with SeaWorld San Diego. The two-day leadership summit provided middle and high school students with the resources and tools to become leaders in their communities while exposing them to STEM opportunities.

A total of 85 youth from 5 different states were hosted overnight on SeaWorld grounds at their Adventure Day Camp dormitories, giving them a taste of the college dormitory life. As the largest ethnic group in the United States, it is important to provide empowering opportunities that encourage Latinos to pursue higher education.

Over the course of two days, SeaWorld San Diego exposed the youth to numerous STEM career opportunities that created unique opportunities for youth to explore science through interactive experiences such as feeding bat rays, dissecting squids, and hearing from SeaWorld’s own marine biologists. Through the generosity of SeaWorld, Latino youth from underserved communities participated in this unforgettable experience. As a result of these experiences, the youth developed an interest in pursuing STEM careers. One 16-year-old participant stated that she “enjoyed this program not only because it was fun, but because it opened [her] eyes to career opportunities in marine biology.”

This summit was the third event in a longstanding partnership with SeaWorld San Diego. Previously, SeaWorld hosted two overnight camps where several dozen youth were inspired and empowered to connect with animals, care for the natural world, and pursue a career in marine science. A total of 87 students from 4 cities in California participated in this interactive experience with marine animals and were presented with the opportunity to win a $500 scholarship to kick-start their college career.

It’s safe to say that these events were a success with all who attended. A student who attended the camp happily said that it “was very helpful with information on how to help sea creatures. Thank you SeaWorld and LULAC for inspiring me to do my part!”

Click here to see a short clip of the highlights of the Far West Regional LULAC Youth Conference and the overnight camps.

Cristina Sandoval is the LULAC National Workforce Development Programs Coordinator.

Investing in Students Early to Ensure Future Success

Posted on 08/16/2016 @ 12:45 AM

By: Jacqueline Hernandez, LULAC National Community Outreach Fellow

In order for Latino students to gain access to higher-paying jobs, it is absolutely critical that higher education and career options after high school are discussed with students early in their high school career. Academic counseling in high schools can help students explore the different options they have once they graduate. In California, Senate Bill No. 451 attempted to expand the role of a school counselor to focus on academic counseling as well as career and vocational counseling; however, not enough was done to ensure that schools had the adequate resources to adjust to this change. Although this bill provides a positive resource to students, not all schools have similar opportunities due to the ways our public schools are funded.

Funding for public school varies by location. Those in low-income communities receive less funding compared to those in high-income communities because of the sources of public funds. In the United States, funding for public schools comes from federal, state, and local sources. Almost half of the funds come from local property taxes, which gives rise to discrepancies in schools between wealthy and impoverished communities. Less funding decreases the opportunities for schools to offer beneficial resources to their students.

Public school funding discrepancies place limitations on the resources that each school can provide, greatly affecting schools in low-income communities. For many vulnerable communities, educational counseling is absolutely necessary for informing students on the different possibilities after graduation. Students can benefit from the guidance and advice they receive from counselors. Despite some schools not having adequate funding to provide students with necessary resources, there are programs that have been created by community stakeholders to help students become leaders and learn about higher education opportunities.

¡Adelante! America is a program developed by LULAC with support from AT&T that encourages Latino youth to develop leadership skills while preparing them to attend college. The program helps improve academic skills while focusing on high school completion. ¡Adelante! America motivates students to become leaders via mentorship opportunities and guest speakers. In addition, students are exposed to educational field trips, conferences, hands-on workshops and volunteerism to help them make career choices as well as prepare them for higher education. The benefit of having one-on-one academic counseling sessions allows students to expand their personal development. Absolutely critical to the success of the program is creating a motivational environment where students are encouraged to further their careers beyond high school graduation. Since it launched in 2008, ¡Adelante! America has encouraged and mentored over 10,500 leaders.

These types of programs can benefit low-income communities by allowing schools to give their students the best motivational environment. Through programs like ¡Adelante! America, LULAC will continue to ensure that more Latinos have access to a quality education that will lay the foundation for a successful future.

Jacqueline Hernandez is a Community Outreach Fellow at the LULAC Sacramento Regional Office in California. She graduated from the University of California, Davis with a degree in Human Development and a minor in Chicano/a Studies.

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