This year, President Donald Trump nominated Jovita Carranza to lead the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), taking over for Linda McMahon as the Administrator.
This would make her the highest-ranking Hispanic woman in Trump’s cabinet, according to the Senate.
Carranza has been the Treasurer of the United States since 2017, serving as a principal adviser to Secretary Mnuchin. Her focus was to increase participation in our vibrant economy by fostering financial capability and sustainability.
Treasurer Carranza is a Chicago native and founder of the supply-chain management company JCR Group. She previously served as the Deputy Administrator for the SBA under President George W. Bush, where she received a bi-partisan, unanimous confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
At SBA, she managed more than 80 field offices across the country and a portfolio of direct and guaranteed business loans, venture capital investments, and disaster loans worth almost $80 billion.
Prior to her SBA appointment, Carranza had a distinguished 20+ year career at United Parcel Service, where she was the highest-ranking Latina in the history of the company. She started as a part-time, night-shift box handler and worked her way up to President of Latin America and Caribbean operations. As Vice President of Air Operations at its facility in Louisville, Kentucky, she led the cutting-edge automated package processing operation.
The Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is launching a wide lineup of resources and technical assistance to help minority-owned businesses during the pandemic.
The chamber announced the launch of its “#JuntosSacramento” campaign, which translates to “together Sacramento,” on Monday. The campaign is aimed at bringing together all corners of Sacramento’s Latino community, which includes immigrants and people who draw their heritage from a mix of countries and languages, said Cathy Rodriguez Aguirre, CEO of the Sacramento Hispanic Chamber.
Minority-owned businesses have been among the hardest hit during the pandemic, as they may have lower cash reserves and less access to banking resources to buoy their businesses.
The effort includes one-on-one consulting, resources on digital marketing and financial planning during the pandemic and job training programs.
The Sacramento Hispanic Chamber received about $615,000 in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, dollars for the initiative. Those dollars arrived from a $3 million grant that the Sacramento Inclusive Economic Development Collaborative received from the city of Sacramento. The Sac IEDC was formed two years ago, and includes 15 groups within it like the Sacramento Hispanic Chamber and several property business improvement districts.
“Hispanic and minority owned businesses have been a historic pillar in the growth of Sacramento and our mission is to help the region recover from the impacts of Covid-19 by supporting the community through increased services and new, innovative programs,” Rodriguez Aguirre said, in a prepared statement. “Through our partnership with SAC IEDC we will be able to help foster more business development and spur economic growth.”
The program includes a free, six-part webinar series on topics like digital marketing, financial planning and disaster preparedness. The series starts on Oct. 23 and runs every other Friday, and will be conducted in Spanish and English.
Written by: Patty Juarez, head of Wells Fargo Diverse Segments, Commercial Banking with introductory remarks from Ramiro A. Cavazos, President and CEO, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
For the past ten years, the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) has conducted the only Hispanic Employee Resource Group (ERG) Summit & Corporate Challenge in the nation. The USHCC was proud to award Wells Fargo and its ERG “Latin Connection” First Place in the competition during our 2020 National Conference.
More than 100 corporations have competed since our inaugural event, proving that ERGs are more ready than ever to provide value and impact their company’s growth. Since 2010, winners including Wells Fargo’s Latin Connection – have been recognized as the best ERG in the country during our National Conference. The USHCC continues to recognize the growing importance of corporate ERGs who increasingly demonstrate they have tangible impacts on employee growth and leadership development, community service, and create a strong network within each corporation where employees – especially employees of color— can meet, connect, and learn from each other.
Congratulations to Patty Juarez, Josephina Reyes, and the entire Wells Fargo Team at Latin Connection for their unwavering commitment to diversity, inclusion, and employee growth.
“Any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don’t, then you are wasting your time on Earth.” – Roberto Clemente
Supporting employees, communities, and business.
Employee resource groups (also known as ERGs, affinity groups, or business network groups) are networks of employees who join together in their workplace based on shared characteristics, life experiences, or ally aspirations. These groups are voluntary and employee-led, with a goal of fostering a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with the organizations they serve. These groups are a key component for a business’s diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy. As president of Wells Fargo’s Latin Connection, I have seen first-hand the positive impact these networks can have on our Latino employees.
According to John LaVeck, program head of the Employee Resource Network program in the Enterprise Diversity and Inclusion Office at Wells Fargo, “Employee Resource Networks are formed around market and historically under-represented segments in leadership, and provide employees with personal and professional development, mentoring, leadership engagement, networking, and community outreach opportunities.”
From a career standpoint, an ERG provides mentorship opportunities to its members. Senior leaders are invited to share insights on their personal career journeys, allowing members to connect and seek their counsel. Sometimes, these connections mature into mentorships and sponsorships. Group members also have access to unique professional development opportunities, webinars, speaker series, and other educational opportunities. Many organizations host workshops aimed at enhancing and developing the skillsets of its members.
ERGs provide a number of benefits to a business and its employees.
Internally, they provide networking platforms that encourage a sense of belonging. As businesses strive to create a sense of community among diverse employees, ERGs can often times be a bridge that closes gaps. They also open communications channels for leaders to foster and build involvement and engagement among employees and leadership. Allies are also key to impactful ERGs. Incorporating allies in the work allows for further education and expanded reach of an ERG. Senior leadership involvement is key to reinforcing a company’s commitment to supporting ERGs and all employees across diversity dimensions.
Externally, ERGs have tremendous positive impact in diverse communities. At Wells Fargo, our Latin Connection members log more than five-thousand volunteer hours annually. It is amazing to see these teams making a difference in the communities where we live and work.
Culture is another key to a strong ERG. It is often the shared stories and experiences that bring people together. We celebrate shared values, traditions, food, music, and backgrounds. In Latin Connection members celebrate shared holidays and the history of contributions of Latinos in our country and community. These celebrations allow members the opportunity to connect and celebrate who they are and what they represent. These celebrations also welcome and invite others to learn and share in the Latino culture.
ERG members are not one dimensional; many identify with multiple dimensions. It is important for ERGs to explore intersections. For instance, within Latin Connection, the group co-hosted an event with the Veterans Network, which celebrated the contribution of Latinos in armed forces. Group members represent a number of generations, including a growing number of millennials, and many are bi-cultural and have other diversity dimensions. It is important to meet members where they are in those areas of intersection, while addressing individual needs so they feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work.
The Latino market often represents a significant opportunity for businesses. ERGs represent the voice of a community or group – lending authenticity, value, and life experiences to shape the narrative for new strategies, testing products, and informing marketing campaigns, while ensuring our business is providing what the community wants and needs. This allows ERGs to also have a significant financial impact to a business’ the bottom line. Employee resource groups are key to the engagement and motivation of members and to business success. These groups will continue playing an important part of corporate culture and success.
In times like today, when COVID-19 is impacting the ability to be together in person, these groups serve as a critical bridge to maintaining and making new connections within our companies and our communities.
When on the hunt for a job, it’s not uncommon to be applying for multiple opportunities at once. This is especially true for those of us just starting out in our careers. But multiple applications mean different resume versions, various cover letters and many, many different deadlines to keep track of. With so many moving parts at once, it’s easy to become disorganized.
But a disorderly job search process can lead to embarrassing mistakes, such as lost phone numbers, confused deadlines, and missed interviews. To help you avoid these downfalls, we’ve put together a few tips to help you keep your job search organized.
Step 1: Start with Your Career Goals
It’s easy to want to jump right in and begin filling out job applications. But before you do, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Your career journey should start with a look at the direction in which you’re headed.
Though it may seem trivial to set aside time to organize your thoughts to clearly think through the career path you’d like to pursue, this is one of the most important steps to take. How are you supposed to start going anywhere if you don’t know where you want to go?
Reflect on what you’d like to do and why you feel that’s the right path for you. You might feel a little lost and be unsure about where you’re going, but at this stage in your life, that’s ok. Start by thinking about your long-term goals, as those don’t need to be overly specific. Where do you want to be ten years from now?
Then work backward from there down to five years, one year, and six months from now. Think through your personal goals in addition to your career and finances. Take your family, education, and anything else you value into consideration.
Step 2: Create a Schedule
After you’ve spent some time finding your direction and clearly thinking through your goals, it’s time to start building out a schedule. After all, to achieve the goals you now have in mind, you’ll need to set aside time to go after them.
The first step in this stage is to identify time you can set aside that’s dedicated to job searching. Find blocks of time within your schedule between classes, work, and any other responsibilities. Job searching is a time-consuming process and requires regular attention. So, aim to set aside at least two hours every day to fully focus on it.
Next, start building a schedule to complete certain tasks you know you need to get done. For instance, devote one hour to cleaning up your professional online profiles like LinkedIn. Devote another hour or two to preparing your resume. You should be able to fill up at least the first few days of your schedule, if not your first week, with tasks to complete.
Perhaps even more important than actually setting up this schedule is sticking to it. Let’s be honest here—activities like resume building and email sending are less than thrilling tasks. It can be easy to let these fall by the wayside and choose something a little more exciting to occupy your time. However, this will only put you behind and lead you down a path of disorganized job searching. Make sure you leave the time you set aside for job hunting devoid of any other activities.
Step 3: Minimize Your Job Applications
Looking for a job is more often than not a high-pressure situation, so you might be tempted to begin aimlessly applying for any open position you find. But even though applying for more jobs can make it feel like you’re increasing your chances, this is actually just a waste of your time—not to mention an easy way to become disorganized.
Remember that time you dedicated at the beginning of this process to think through your short-term and long-term goals? Here’s where that comes in handy. Start off by narrowing your search to only the jobs that align with those goals. Look out for the opportunities that will help you get to where you want to be.
Next, narrow your search down to only the openings that match the level of skill you have. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that your qualifications need to match up with those listed on the job description exactly. In fact, this will likely never be the case. Job descriptions should be more of a directional tool for whether or not you’re a potential fit for a role, so look for those where you match around 80 percent of the qualifications listed.
Step 4: Track Each Position You Apply For
Here’s where things can get especially messy. Applying for multiple positions at once leaves you with a lot of different things to manage. Make sure you’re keeping track of all of the different details as you go along.
One of the best ways to do this is to create a spreadsheet. This is an easy and effective way to help you keep track. Don’t worry about making anything too fancy. Just include basic information, such as:
Contact details: include the name, email, and phone number of your contact at the company. In most cases, this will be a hiring manager.
Deadlines and interviews: deadlines for upcoming information the company asks for and scheduled interviews
Date followed up: date you followed up after an application submission or interview
Status of application: whether you’ve been rejected, are waiting to hear back, or have an interview scheduled
JibberJobber is an online job search organization tool that helps you keep track of what you’re working on. If you prefer working off of your phone or tablet, then there are tons of great apps available. Keep in mind, though, that setting up a system for tracking alone is not enough. You need to be diligent in updating your system each time you take a new action or receive an update from a potential employer.
Zigzag. That’s the advice Georgia Sandoval, a high-performance architect at Intel, has for STEM students.
“You think there’s only one path for you and if you fail, everything’s going to fall apart,” recalls Sandoval, 28. That’s when you learn to zigzag.
Sandoval bases that insight on her own story. “If you don’t get an internship, then try for a research opportunity,” she says. “If one path doesn’t work, try another until you get where you want to be. Nobody has a linear path in life.”
In high school in Tuba City, Arizona, Sandoval was often the only girl in math classes. Because she was shy, she never applied for extracurricular programs. “It was a lack of confidence,” she explains. “I didn’t think I’d get in any, so why bother?”
Things didn’t click until she was a junior at Arizona State University and took a coding class. “I really loved it,” she says. A year later, she graduated with a degree in computational mathematics.
Today, after stints at Boeing and Raytheon, she’s at Intel helping create the world’s first exascale computer. Able to perform a quintillion floating-point computations per second, this new breed of ultra-supercomputer will help scientists model climate change, map the brain, and conduct advanced physics research.
Sandoval’s job involves making performance projections, a role that entails far more than crunching numbers. “We have brainstorming meetings throughout the day on how we’re going to solve the next problem,” she says, and collaborates with scientists from multiple national labs, who send her bundles of their code to evaluate.
Her Navajo heritage has guided and strengthened Sandoval along her path, which has not always been easy. She was single mother in college who had to work her way from tribal college to community college and finally to Arizona State University. Being a role model for her child inspired her to finish her college degree.
“My parents continue to say, remember who you are, and remember who your people are, so you’re grounded,” says Sandoval.
She has a special fondness for her masani (her mother’s mother) who told her, “The way to succeed in this new world of technology is to use your brain, study, and always walk on dirt to remember where you came from.” Sandoval offers that advice to today’s students: “Find the balance between culture and modern society, without sacrificing your core identity.” Above all, she wants students to remember they’re not alone. “In college I was pushed to network, even when I didn’t want to,” she recalls. “But I made sure to be myself. People can see when you’re faking it. Explore new areas — there are so many opportunities out there.”
Succeeding in college networking was a big step from her days as a shy high school student. She wishes that back then she had learned an important lesson. “It is okay to admit you need help, to admit you’re scared,” she explains. “The most important thing is to talk to someone, to ask for help — to figure out what you want and build your confidence.”
Georgia Sandoval has come a long way. “I was always the quiet girl in the corner,” she says. “I’m far from that now.”
(Jacksonville, FL) Ruben Rodriguez, a former firefighter for both the City of Miami Fire & Rescue and the Tallahassee Fire Department, is currently the Emergency Recovery Coordinator for Paul Davis of Tallahassee.
He also is active in the Business Development end of the company which involves creating and maintaining client relationships. Ruben came aboard the Paul Davis team in January of 2019 and explains how much he enjoys the work.
“For me, this was just a continuation of the work firefighters do, in that we are all about serving others and helping people in their time of need. It feels great to offer some help and solace to someone who is overwhelmed from a disaster,” Ruben shared.
The formal description of Ruben’s job and all ERC’s at Paul Davis is coordinator of who and what is needed for the recovery for people, communities, and businesses after a disaster, particularly fires.
“People often experience numbness, shock, fear and difficulty focusing during these situations and, as with any trauma, they shouldn’t be making important decisions during this period,” explained Ruben. “That’s where we come in. We excel in coordination among all the players; adjustors and insurance carriers, and mitigation workers and gently guide shocked property owners through the stressful process. ERC’s from Paul Davis are trained and have the knowledge needed to protect the point of origin in a fire loss for example. This is important because sometimes insurance companies want to perform an origin and cause investigation. One of my duties would be to make an accurate assessment of what needs to be done to secure the scene. This eliminates a crucial task for the fire victim at that awful time.
Among the rewards Ruben feels in his job is working with civic causes and fire prevention programs, one of which involves the Tallahassee Paul Davis team helping to assist in installations of smoke detectors for the needy.
For more than 50 years, Paul Davis Restorations Inc. has restored residential and commercial properties damaged by fire, water, mold, storms, and disasters. Paul Davis is a one-stop shop for disaster damage and restoration and has more than 300 independently owned franchises in the United States and Canada. The professionals at Paul Davis are certified in emergency restoration, reconstruction, and remodeling. For more information, visit the company website at www.pauldavis.com
In the study, HBR reported how an increase in employee curiosity led to a dramatic increase in company-wide creativity; how curiosity leads to empathy, which leads to reduced conflict among team members; and how “Google identifies naturally curious people through interview questions such as these: ‘Have you ever found yourself unable to stop learning something you’ve never encountered before? Why? What kept you persistent?’”
Whether we realize it or not, curiosity is one of the most appealing qualities . . . in a friend, an employee, a boss, or a leader.
Curiosity leads to improved problem-solving—in just about every capacity (logistically, emotionally, financially, etc.).
As the HBR study goes on to explain, “To assess curiosity, employers can also ask candidates about their interests outside of work. Reading books unrelated to one’s own field and exploring questions just for the sake of knowing the answers are indications of curiosity.”
I didn’t realize it at the time, but when I was starting my company, originally focused exclusively on female athletes and women’s sports, a number of people told me, “There’s no money in women’s sports.” And the reason I pressed on regardless was that I was curious. “Is that true? If it is true, why? And shouldn’t we change that?” Those questions and my curiosity started the Stanton & Company journey (thank goodness!).
And then a few years ago, when I decided I wanted to write a book about femininity, I was curious about my behaviors, feelings, and ideas—was I experiencing something unique, or were my feelings and human responses part of a larger societal reality? (The answer turned out to be the latter.)
Irma Olguin, the tech CEO of Geekwise Academy, is not your typical CEO. Though she lives in California, where many business owners have taken to big cities, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, Olguin runs her business in Fresno, California, one of the poorest cities in the United States.
She spends her workdays with pink hair, normally wearing T-shirts and jeans, and depended on recycling cans and bottles to afford the transportation fee to the University of Toledo, where she was the first person in her family to earn her degree.
Through her studies, Olguin found her passion for computer science and engineering, a field that is predominately male. Following her graduation in 2004, Olguin had several opportunities to work various tech jobs near her school but ultimately decided to return to Fresno in an attempt to boost the economy. While working with Fresno school districts in both teaching and performing computer programming work, Olguin teamed up with property lawyer Jake Sobreal in 2012. Both being Fresno natives, Olguin and Sobreal decided it was time to teach the natives of their hometown the skills they would need to boost their economy and to better provide for themselves.
In 2013, Geekwise Academy was born, a crash course learning center for coding, technology, and business skills. The academy has given people with a wide variety of backgrounds the inspiration and tools needed to jump back into the workforce. Graduates of the Geekwise Academy have included military veterans, newly released prisoners, and even make up 25% of Shift3 Technologies’ staff.
With the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, Olguin decided to defy the expectations of a potential crashing economy and use the situation to her advantage. In March of 2020, Geekwise Academy went digital where the company received double their usual clientele, despite having opened more locations two years before. Despite the pandemic, Olguin and Sobreal are still working toward opening new locations, despite uncertain real estate numbers.
Given their estimated $27 million in capital backing, $20 million in revenue, and her past of consistently defeating the odds, Olguin’s desire to grow her company, stimulate the economy, and help those desiring a better career, are looking positive. Of her company, Olguin says, “We’ve found a fundamentally different way to rebuild American cities, especially at a time when folks are looking around and saying, ‘What do we do with our economy?’ We think we have the answer to that.”
The sun-drenched skies, sculpted rock formations and Saguaro cactus of the high desert are part of the landscape that Andrea Garcia calls home. Garcia, a native of Phoenix, Arizona, is proud of her Hispanic heritage and feels fortunate to be able to crossover the language barrier from English to Spanish and collaborate in two languages as a bilingual accountant.
“So many people within the Hispanic community appreciate someone who can speak Spanish in everyday business interactions,” said Garcia. “Especially when it comes to tax accounting. It truly makes everyone feel comfortable and at home when you can convey the message in their own language.”
Garcia, an entrepreneur and founder of her own accounting firm AG Tax and Accounting as well as an accountant with Nahrwold Associates in Phoenix, received a wealth of opportunity that opened many doors for her as a Hispanic woman in a male-dominated profession like accounting.
“I landed a part-time administrative job with Nahrwold Associates, a small accounting firm, while still in college,” reminisced Garcia, 27. “The owner, Allen Nahrwold, noted my interest in business and finance. He became my mentor in the field of tax accounting. Many employees were part-time college students, such as me, who left the firm and moved on to other jobs. I ultimately stayed and learned the accounting business from the ground up. I have never found that being a woman or Hispanic has been an issue – if anything it has been an asset since I speak Spanish as well as English. That is an area where many young Hispanic women could find themselves in a career, and truly excel rapidly by being able to speak both languages.”
Now into several months of being a business owner, Garcia has discovered the freedom of creating her own business identity while remaining a Nahrwold employee.
“This is the best of both worlds,” said Garcia, “being able to work for myself and Nahrwold. I am building a great network based off referrals and additional business contacts provided by Nahrwold. It is amazing how the clients and referrals come when people discover you are starting a new business.”
When contemplating college following high school graduation, Garcia’s exemplary grades led to a wealth of scholarship opportunities including several that she received from the Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance (AFWA), an educational and professional association for women in the field of finance and accounting, headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky. Garcia has since completed a master’s degree in accounting and plans to complete the two phases of the CPA exam by the end of the year.
“The AFWA scholarships were so beneficial to my college success,” said Garcia. “The whole organization has been a wonderful education and networking experience. I joined our local AFWA chapter (East Mesa and Phoenix Chapters) shortly after finishing college. Now I am the president of East Mesa and enjoying every minute of it. It is a great way to network, make friends in your profession, create revenue streams, and get involved in the community. I have also served for several years on the national AFWA Board of Directors, and that has been a wonderful experience.”
Garcia’s advice to young women interested in pursuing a profession as an accountant or in the field finance includes becoming an intern for valuable experience and finding a mentor to guide you down the career path of choice. She also believes that it is important to join a professional organization while still attending college, like the AFWA, that offers a student membership and scholarship opportunities.
“Working as an intern in a position is a wonderful chance to discover if accounting or finance is the career path you want to follow,” said Garcia. “It is even more beneficial to find a mentor to help you learn the ropes and give you advice along the way, help develop skills, and create your business acumen. It is also important to join a professional organization, like the AFWA, to develop soft skills, networking, and leadership skills. Women are underrepresented in the field of finance and accounting. There are so many opportunities available it just takes making yourself aware, willing to step out of your comfort zone and into a role where you can learn, lead, excel and grow in your business and interpersonal skills.”
Len Necefer, Ph.D, is fearless in his pursuit of change in the Navajo Nation. He is changing the national dialogue around issues facing Indian Country by making sure American Indian voices are heard and engaged.
Necefer carefully chose each step he took as he pursued one degree after another, all so that one day he could do exactly what he does today—find the balance of competing uses of our public lands and natural resources and the interests of Native communities and teach others how to do the same.
Finding his voice was a focus through his entire academic journey, which started at the University of Kansas and was ultimately completed by achieving his doctorate in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University.
Frustrated and saddened by the environmental destruction and mismanagement occurring in Indian Country, Necefer decided to dedicate his career to bringing sustainable environmental practices to the Navajo Nation. This work began at the University of Kansas, where he developed his own community recycling program in coordination with the dean, University of Kansas Recycling, and the Coca-Cola Company. In just two years, the program was responsible for diverting more than 9,000 pounds of recyclable materials from landfills.
It was this experience that inspired Necefer to pursue his Ph.D., to further hone his talent for creative problem solving in the environmental sector. Like many Native students, academic attainment is not possible without help. Necefer’s help came from the American Indian College Fund, an organization Necefer continues to work with today in his role as an organization Ambassador. The College Fund’s support was critical in Necefer’s success, as the transition to Carnegie Melon, where he completed his doctorate, was difficult—he was the only Native student among more than 5,000 graduate students. But Necefer did not let his circumstances defeat him, instead he used them as motivation.
Following the completion of his Ph.D., Necefer chose a position with the Office of Indian Energy in the Department of Energy, working with almost 300 tribes to plan and fund more than 40 renewable resource projects for development,
“Helping tribes actualize their vision of what they want their future to be was incredibly fulfilling,” said Necefer, whose initial efforts were directed at finding the most sustainable and cost-effective ways to provide energy to people on reservations.
However, he soon realized that perhaps the most innovative and useful aspect of his project involved determining how to incorporate traditional Native values into environmental planning. He began interviewing tribal members on the Navajo Reservation, and based on their responses, developed an interface that allowed anyone from the tribe to determine the environmental impacts of various methods of energy development, including wind and solar.
Perhaps most importantly, it allowed Navajo people to become engaged with the issues and to have a voice in the decision-making process regarding environmental issues affecting their communities. “It was a really good learning experience for me just to have that engagement with folks,” said Necefer. “I saw a lot of frustration from people. Just being asked gave them hope.”
His next career move was to start his own company, NativesOutdoors. The aim of this company is to develop outdoor gear with indigenous artists and athletes and give a voice to native people in the intersection of the management of public lands and outdoor recreation. While continuing to build his company, Necefer is also an assistant professor at the University of Arizona, College of Behavioral and Social Sciences. This position affords him the opportunity to both teach a new generation of people about the things most important to him—indigenous peoples and environmental issues impacting their communities—as well as engage in public policy. In his spare time, Necefer is an avid outdoor adventurer using rock/ice climbing, high altitude and ski mountaineering, and bikepacking to convey stories focused on environmental activism and indigenous history. These adventures are documented through his writing and photography, which has been featured in the Alpinist, Outside Magazine, the Climbing Zine, BESIDE Magazine, Patagonia’s the Cleanest Line, and various film festivals.
About Len Necefer
Len Necefer, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at the University of Arizona, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, with joint appointments with the American Indian Studies program & the Udall Center for Public Policy. In addition, he is the founder & CEO of Colorado-based outdoor apparel company NativesOutdoors. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Kansas & a doctorate from Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Engineering and Public Policy. Previously he worked at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio on supersonic vehicle research and most recently worked for the Department of Energy’s Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs supporting tribes realize their energy futures through research and grant making. His research focuses on the intersection of indigenous people and natural resource management policy. This has included work from energy and water issues in the lower 48 and Alaska to outdoor recreation management policy.
The Latino community has been standing in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. LULAC Chief Executive Officer Sindy M. Benavides and UnidosUS Senior Vice President of Policy and Advocacy Eric Rodriguez shared their thoughts with HISPANIC Network Magazine (HNM) on the Black Lives Matter movement, Latinos’ participation, and the changes they hope to see.
HNM: What were your thoughts when you first heard what happened to George Floyd?
Benavides: Horrified, deeply saddened, but unfortunately not surprised to learn that yet another criminal cop had taken the life of a person of color. America is built upon systemic oppression and discrimination, systems that activists have tried to bring to light and fight against for decades. When we heard of what happened to George Floyd, and when we watched the video of police officers watching their colleague murder a man and refuse to stop him, we were distraught over the state of the police force and the loss of life. We share our thoughts and prayers with George Floyd’s family, as well as the family and communities of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Andres Guardado, Carlos Ingram-Lopez, Erik Salgado, and the hundreds of others who have lost their lives to a discriminatory policing system.
Rodriguez: I was horrified and shocked by George Floyd’s murder. Police killings of unarmed minorities is not a new story, and anyone who is Black or Brown is likely familiar with the type of racial profiling and hyper aggression by law enforcement that played out in that episode. But this incident transpired in daylight, surrounded by people filming it on their smart phones, and with other police officers standing by watching while a handcuffed Black man on the ground is slowly incapacitated and ultimately killed by an officer before their eyes. That’s something most Americans do not see every day.
HNM: What are your thoughts on the policy changes happening? Do you feel they are affecting genuine and lasting change?
Benavides: We need to urgently implement policy changes at the local and national level to dismantle police brutality. LULAC fully believes that these changes, combined with the work of thousands of activists, can help enact lasting change in this deeply flawed society. Policy initiatives like the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act are a good start in the long battle of eradicating policy brutality and addressing the variety of issues that take the lives of our Black community in this country. This is a good start, but much more needs to happen both at the federal and local levels for true change to be achieved. We have also joined efforts by progressive allies such as the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and support the following federal reforms:
Prohibit racial profiling with robust data collection on police-community encounters and law enforcement activities. Data should capture all demographic categories and be disaggregated.
Prohibit all maneuvers that restrict the flow of blood or oxygen to the brain, including neck holds, chokeholds, and similar excessive force, deeming the use of such force a federal civil rights violation.
Require a federal standard that use of force be reserved for only when necessary as a last resort after exhausting reasonable options, and incentivize states to implement this standard; require the use of de-escalation techniques, and the duty to intervene; ban the use of force as a punitive measure or means of retaliation against individuals who only verbally confront officers, or against individuals who pose a danger only to themselves; and require all officers to accurately report all uses of force.
Prohibit the use of no-knock warrants, especially for drug searches.
Rodriguez: The demonstrations and protests have opened up the possibility for real social change. The death of George Floyd, and other recent incidents of racism caught on video, has also helped to open the eyes of many Americans about the many ways that racism shows up in our society. One result is the cross-racial solidarity we have witnessed among the protesters and the advocates calling for change. Another result is the heightened consciousness we see on display across the country. For instance, the historical symbols of racism and prejudice in America are now under intense public scrutiny. Many more Americans seem ready to acknowledge that the heroes and flags of the Confederacy belong in American history books and museums rather than displayed and honored in public places, or on government buildings or civic institutions. And in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, how many more Americans today know what Juneteenth is?
Despite this, when it comes to public policy, I am less hopeful. There are few examples in our history when widespread justice for racial and ethnic minorities transpired absent a strong federal role. The power of the federal government has in most cases been necessary to break up the culture and practice of racism that fossilized in cities, states, and within our institutions.
Yet, we certainly cannot stop fighting for change in political leadership and federal laws. Our CEO and President Janet Murguía contributed to President Obama’s 21st Century Policing Task Force, which identified recommendations for local and state authorities that included community policing and accountability measures. We also support policy changes working their way through Congress, and there is a good chance that some cities will be able to put in place some new practices that can help. Finally, UnidosUS is registering, educating and mobilizing voters this fall in what stands to be a pivotal election.
HNM: How have Latinos stood in solidarity with the Black lives matter movement?
Benavides: Police brutality is an issue that affects both Black and Brown communities. Something that is often missed is that under the ethnicity of Hispanic, we have members who identify as Black, who may be Afro-Latino, or mixed. That is why many Latino organizations and Latino leaders have come out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, including LULAC. We are also working with our councils to ensure they also have the tools to work with their local elected to implement local reforms. LULAC has also created a microsite on our website to make sure that we are providing resources and information to the Latino community on how it can support the Black Lives Movement.
Rodriguez: Latinos are speaking out, protesting and marching, joining advocacy efforts to push for needed policy changes and encouraging self-reflection about how anti-Black racism and colorism shows up within the Latino community. The Latino community, which is about 58 million strong, has also felt the blows of prejudice and inequality. Nearly 25 percent of Latinos identify as Afro-Latino and experience both racial and ethnic discrimination in their daily lives.
The same unchecked police power that has taken the lives of Black Americans is used to separate our families, put children in cages and racially profile us. This broken system has led too many Latinos to fear law enforcement, with deadly consequences—as in the tragic cases of Andres Guardado in Los Angeles and Carlos Adrian Ingram-Lopez in Tucson.
So, our solidarity with the Black community is rooted in the shared lived experience of facing racism and oppression that harms all communities. Most Latinos do not just empathize with the experience of Black Americans who are abused and targeted by police, but they also identify with that experience.
HNM: How has the Black Lives Matter impacted the Hispanic community?
Benavides: Black Lives Matter has shown the power of sustained grassroots organizing, a great model for the Latino community to follow. We have learned that change takes time and this moment has been 400+ years in the making. Most importantly, we know that their success is our success and that it will benefit all communities who are targeted and marginalized. And, in this process, BLM has spurred a national conversation among Latinos around anti-blackness. It has forced us to look into the mirror and acknowledge our own shortcomings. I think this is a valuable conversation that is sorely needed and we have and continue to learn from it.
Rodriguez: The Black Lives Matter movement has brought necessary attention to the pervasiveness of police abuse and bias that results in the death of Black Americans and the lack of accountability and injustice that follows. The movement has given many Latinos, who have also been harmed, aggrieved or offended by police practices, a voice and a means of expressing their frustration in a way that advances social change. The movement has sparked needed conversations that can push state and local governments to reinvest in their communities in a way that enhances public safety while helping residents thrive economically and socially.
HNM: How can Latinos participate in this movement?
Benavides: Latinx people can participate in the movement by being physically present in support of this movement. And using our voices to practice proper allyship in this time of need and centering Black voices in everything you do. Acknowledge your privileges and make an effort to learn about the Black Lives Matter experience. We encourage everybody in our Latinx community to use their voices for good and support Black voices in all of their actions. ‘Tu lucha es mi lucha’ should ring true to our hearts as we strive to build a more inclusive democracy where all of us are equal and treated equally in all aspects of society.
Rodriguez: Latinos have long been in the fight to end systemic racism and discrimination that manifests across our society and filters through the private sector and our government systems. Eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in health, housing, education, and voting through the courts or Congress have been important ways to tackle structural racism.
Right now, the Congress is debating police reforms. Latinos can call their senators and demand that Leader McConnell bring the Justice in Policing Act to a vote. They can call members of Congress and demand annual congressional oversight hearings to review the status of the implementation of the Death in Custody Reporting Act to compel the collection, reporting, and analysis of all deaths, by race and gender, that occur in law enforcement custody.
Those who are moved to organize and express their concerns about the status quo can do many other things, such as join peaceful marches and protests, demand accountability from political leaders, fight for policy changes at the local level and support and donate to organizations at the forefront of the fight, like Black Lives Matter, NAACP, Color of Change, UndocuBlack, RaceForward and many others.
Latinos can contact their police departments, city council and/or Attorneys General and demand meaningful investigations and prosecutions of incidents involving abuse of force against racial and ethnic minorities. They can vote with these concerns in mind.
And most of all, for those Latinos who, upon self-reflection, recognize that they have been too silent and accepting of anti-Blackness within their circle of family, friends, neighbors and co-workers, it is time to take responsibility and act. If we are to dismantle systemic factors that enable the scourge of anti-Blackness, colorism and race-based violence to grow, we must start by healing ourselves and preparing for the hard work and courageous conversations ahead.