By SHELAGH BRALEY
We should all be slightly Latino right now.
With Boston’s Latino population continuing to blossom, now at 20 percent, it’s way past time to pay attention.
“Boston’s population would be back to 1980 levels if the community hadn’t grown from the Latino base. They’re a big part of growing the community and economy,” says Betty Francisco, well-known local entrepreneur and co-founder of Latina Circle.
What action do you take to shift power for any demographic that has historically had little agency or representation?
Launch a movement, according to Francisco and her co-founder, attorney Eneida Roman.
Nuestra Voz: Amplifying Latino Power, Impact and Influence, (AmplifyLatinX), held at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, is one wave of many planned for this movement, the founders say. This conference focuses on practical ways to increase civic engagement and political leadership, co-hosted by Latina Circle and the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy.
The historic event is prepping to accommodate more than 250 local and national leaders, plus 30 community organizations ready to create actionable, innovative ways of bolstering Latino civic participation, especially for the younger generations.
“This is such an important conversation because we’re contributing to the economy. Where 1 in 5 people in Boston is of Latino heritage, we are a force,” says Francisco.
“But the numbers (of representation) haven’t changed much,” Roman says. “Three years have gone by, our demographic keeps going up and yet we’re not making a dent. There are always going to be opportunities and challenges.”
FoundersWire is a partner in this event (full disclosure), and for good reason: When groups like Latina Circle organize and energize their base to empower the next generation of leaders, I can’t help but see the parallels within the startup community. They deserve support—from all of us, not just those who know the Latino experience firsthand.
Much like the “lean in” initiative started by Sheryl Sandberg, where men can act to empower women in the workplace, we need those beyond the boundaries of race, gender and culture to support this LatinX movement to make it work.
We certainly understand the negative effects of a monoculture, in theory. We all talk about the importance of diversity and inclusion. When we only see, hear and validate one perspective, education, experience and the wealth gap stay static. This is as true in entrepreneurship as it is in politics. A lack of engagement becomes a missing voice, which translates into a lack of power. It impacts policy as well as participation, and for our community of diverse founders, it has a huge impact on funding.
The startup world has much to learn from Amplify LatinX’s bold moves.
“How do we create the sense of urgency? How do we, across sectors, come together in a collaborative way around a shared mission?” asked Roman.
Their answer in Boston starts with this conference. There’s still time to join in. Come find out for yourself why you should support the changing face of growth in the city. They represent all of us who deserve to be heard.
“If we can have this demographic prosper, then we all benefit,” she said.
The event kicks off at 8 a.m. Saturday, with programming planned until around 3 in the afternoon. Tickets, $50-$15, are available HERE.
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