By Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., NNPA Columnist
If there was ever a propitious time for African Americans and Latino Americans to unite to advance the cause of freedom, justice, equality and economic empowerment, it is now. Today, more than ever, the rapidly changing national demographics and the potential political and economic power as a direct result of Latino and Black unity in America cannot be overstated.
We are now in the middle of Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15 to October 15, across the United States. It is important to note that during this year’s observance of Hispanic heritage, Latino leaders are also articulating the strategic value and need for more unity between Blacks and Latinos.
In a recent column to the New York Amsterdam News, Bronx Borough President Rueben Diaz Jr. stated, “As we face heated, dangerous rhetoric on the issues that concern us the most, the Hispanic community must not only stand together but to also unite with our allies of different backgrounds, such as the African-American community, to fight for the betterment of our communities.”
I know Borough President Diaz and I believe that one day he may become the first Latino mayor of New York City. Fighting to improve the quality of life in our communities is exactly what our long mutual struggles for justice and empowerment continues to be about. The two largest people of color groups in America are Latinos and Blacks. And if Blacks and Latinos unite in New York and elsewhere, it will achieve more effective political and economic results.
President Barack H. Obama issued a proclamation in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month stating, “America’s Hispanic community has woven unique threads into the diverse fabric of our country and played an important role in shaping our national character as a people of limitless possibility.”
We are witnessing a political challenge to the nation’s diversity with the exponential increase in residents of people of color in every region of the country. Some studies show that the racial-disparity divide in America is becoming more and more pronounced in housing, education, business, immigration, and mass incarceration.
Going forward will require a serious effort to ensure a massive voter turnout of Latinos and Blacks in the 2016 elections. Neither the Black nor Latino vote can be taken for granted. The political future of the U.S. will swing in the balance and scale of how Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) efforts will be financed, advertised, staffed and mobilized.
Neither elected officials nor Corporate America can effectively reach the Black and Brown communities by ignoring their media outlets. And a promising sign of increased unity between the two powerhouse groups is that the National Association of Hispanic Publishers (NAHP) and the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) have announced the establishment of a NNPA-NAHP National Advertising Task Force. The purpose of the coalition is to educate marketers on the benefits and importance of the African American and Hispanic newspaper markets.
“With close to 97 million African Americans and Hispanics in the U.S. today, representing 33 percent of the total population, this consumer segment demands attention,” said Martha Montoya, VP of the NAHP. “The buying power of the African American and Hispanic communities, currently at over $2.3 trillion combined, continues to outpace the national average.”
NNPA Chair Denise Rolark Barnes emphasized, “This task force also marks a historic partnership between the NNPA and NAHP, the nation’s most influential publishing organizations that are currently led by women. Martha and I have a shared vision and commitment to empower our communities by strengthening the voices of the media we serve.”
The potential force of African Americans and Latinos working together in business, politics, education, housing, family and community development are enormous. The challenge will be to achieve and maintain this unity not just for one year or two, but for a lifetime of solidarity and action to represent and defend the interests of our communities respectively.