Now is the time for Latinos to leverage their political strength
The Latino community has the opportunity to show its strength and elect leaders who will work with us to pursue equitable investment in our communities.
Elections are an opportunity to speak up and let government officials know what we want and need to see in our communities. As one of the fastest growing demographics in Illinois, Latinos have the power to impact elections and influence policymaking at every level of government.
Latinos make up close to 18% of Illinois’ population and a third of Chicago’s population. Our cultures and contributions are embedded in the fabric of this state. We are a community of hard workers and entrepreneurs. We make up more than 17% of the workforce and 10% of employers. Latinos in Illinois have a GDP (gross domestic product) of over $100 billion, and were it not for our rapidly growing population, the Illinois workforce would have contracted between 2010 and 2018.
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We are proud of our contributions in growing the prosperity of Illinois, in virtually every corner of the state. Unfortunately, as is often the case for communities that have been disenfranchised from the political process, our voter turnout does not reflect the size of our population nor the contributions of our community. As a result, the needs of our community are often overlooked.
The Illinois Latino Agenda (ILA) is a nonpartisan coalition that advocates to ensure our people have equitable access to the prosperity we have helped create. We are using our collective voice, empowering our community to vote, and working with leaders to invest in our community.
The ILA is working to showcase the growing strength of its community by increasing voter participation in elections. The ILA’s !Vota Ya! get-out-the-vote campaign encourages Illinois Latinos to register and make their voices heard at the polls.
In addition, over the past year the ILA has advocated for resources to support COVID-19 recovery efforts, pushed back on harmful media narratives that dehumanize Black and Brown youth, took a stance to protect women’s reproductive rights, and convened a violence prevention summit to develop a plan to identify the resources organizations need to create safer communities.
Other priorities include advocating for strong allyship with other communities of color to seek equity, inclusion and social justice. We know that the only way to improve conditions and create opportunity is by working with our allies and not buying into a narrative that we are competing for resources.
The Latino community has the opportunity to show its strength and elect leaders who will work with us to pursue equitable investment and advocate for the needs of our people.
Jose Muñoz, co-chair, Illinois Latino Agenda and executive director, La Casa Norte
Don’t spend public funds on memorial to Burge victims
It’s bad enough that our culture, with all of its issues and problems, makes memorializing dead people worthy of wasting extraordinary amounts of money and resources. Now we’ve deemed memorializing disgraced former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge’s victims, many of whom are still living, just as worthy.
The idea of devoting millions in public funds to constructing a building devoted to the victims of the Burge era is beyond the pale. If the Burge saga is important enough to chronicle, how about writing a book or making a documentary? This approach would cost far less and reach a far larger and more diverse audience than a soulless building in a park somewhere on the South Side where many of those most in need of being reminded of this dark chapter are unlikely to show up.
Shouldn’t we be shining a brighter light on the conditions in the Chicago Police Department that allowed for a monster like Burge to operate with impunity, in the hope that we can fix this chronic, systemic cancer? Creating memorials to every one of the countless dark chapters in our history is a slippery, not to mention, very costly slope.
Jim Morris, Evanston