Blog: Latinos & The Occupy Movement – December 13, 2011

As we all know, Latinos comprise a majority of the state of California, the most populated state in the nation, and the largest minority group in the U.S.; this being said,  we have the power to bring change to the our country. So what is a Latino’s role in the Occupy Movement exactly? Do they have one?

The Occupy Movement sheds a light on the economic disparity between the Top 1% of income earners, and the rest of the 99%. Given these statistics, this is a social movement that impacts almost everyone, regardless of ethnic background. For Latinos in particular, home foreclosures have disproportionately impacted them because of the likelihood they were given predatory sub-prime loans by mortgage lenders. In addition to economic injustices, anti-immigration laws, such as those in Arizona and Alabama, are policies at the top of mind for many Hispanics.

Given their potential stake in the cause, Latinos’ presence in the US is not translated into their representation in the movement.  Largely criticized for being “too white,” minorities only make up a small percentage of active movement protestors. There are various reasons for why this could be. Some believe that since most Latinos form part of the working class, it is impossibly difficult for them to leave work and simply take to the streets. Providing for their family and making money to merely survive is more of a priority than participating in the occupy movement. Some view the ability to participate as privilege, one that many do not possess.

Another reason is that organization amongst cities varies greatly. The majority of cities have young, white men as core organizers. In cities where the movement actively partners with organized labor, Latino turnout has been greater, given their membership with unions. In New York, there is a “People of Color” group dedicated to bringing more Blacks and Latinos into the movement.

Latinos have always had a history of involvement in protests, from the start of their time in the United States; such as the National Farm Workers Association Protest led by Cesar Chavez. As we make strides in increasing our representation in government elected positions, now is the time for Latinos to become more involved in this historical social justice movement and make their voices heard.

What are your thoughts on the movement?