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A time to celebrate Hispanic heritage, progress and opportunities for advancement

September 10th, 2010 · 7 Comments

By Manuel Diaz

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) will host a number of events next week that celebrate Latino history, heritage and the American dream.  The event will be both a significant and memorable experience as six of President Obama’s cabinet secretaries as well as his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama plan to attend.  The program also promises to be both exciting and educational, as more than 3,000 Latino leaders from across the country, including more than 20 members of Congress, gather together to discuss major policy issues affecting the Latino community. As a former mayor and concerned member of the Latino community, I feel it is tremendously important that we consider how key policy issues affect Americans – ALL Americans, including the growing population of Hispanics – and am pleased that the CHCI events will provide a platform for this important dialogue.

The list of policy issues to be discussed next week is broad – spanning from education to health and health care reform to immigration reform – and includes one issue that I think is the stepping stone for the future and empowerment for Latino kids:  technology.  Technology – and broadband technology, in particular, is an empowering tool that holds the key to our economic equality.  Unfortunately, the digital divide that exists today disproportionately affects the Latino community, placing both native-born Latinos and foreign-born Latinos at a serious disadvantage.  A recent Pew report finds that Hispanics are less connected to the internet than non-Hispanics overall and there is a tremendous disparity between the internet usage adoption rates of U.S. born Latinos and foreign-born Latinos.  I know that we can do better than this.

High speed Internet access is a transforming technology that provides countless benefits and unprecedented opportunity to its many users – allowing increased productivity and helping to develop tomorrow’s leaders.  In our increasingly digital society the cost of living without this tool grows greater every day – making it critical that we ensure all Americans have affordable access.

Earlier this year the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) laid out a vision to achieving universal access with the National Broadband Plan.  I believe that in doing this – while maintaining an open Internet – we will be on the right track to create jobs, revive our economy and provide valuable opportunity to Latinos and other underserved and un-served communities.

Moving forward policymakers should ensure that all stakeholders are working together to ensure that we are successful in reaching the goal of affordable access to high speed Internet.

As we celebrate our Hispanic Heritage this month and all year, it is important that we honor the progress that we have made – and continue to look for opportunities and pursue policies that will enable continued progress and success.  I am confident that technology provides a solid path to both.

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About Manny (Manuel) Diaz

A force in local, state and national politics for nearly three decades, Manny Diaz was first elected City of Miami Mayor in 2001, having never before held elective office. He was reelected to a second term in 2005, and was chosen to lead the United States Conference of Mayors as its president in 2008.

Mayor Diaz developed a vision for Miami as an international City that embodies diversity, economic opportunity, effective customer service and a highly rated quality of life. To achieve this goal, he re-engineered Miami government from top to bottom.

During his two-term tenure, Diaz was recognized for completely transforming the City of Miami, and for many nationally recognized innovative programs in the areas of urban design, sustainability and green initiatives, education, infrastructure investment, affordable housing, law enforcement, poverty and homelessness, and arts and culture.

Diaz was recognized as one of America’s Best Leaders by US News and World Report and The Center for Public Leadership (Kennedy School of Government); the Urban Innovator of the Year by the Manhattan Institute; Americans for the Arts-National Award for Local Arts Leadership; American Architectural Foundation Keystone Award; Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce Power Leader of the Year and Green Visionary Awards; the Government Award by Hispanic Magazine; the Business Leader of the Year Award by South Florida CEO Magazine; and was named an Outstanding American by Choice by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service.

He is a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council of the US Department of Homeland Security and serves as Vice-Chairman of the Alliance for Digital Equality Board of Directors. He is also a member of the Board of the Bloomberg Family Foundation, the University of Pennsylvania’s Institute for Urban Research, the Mayors’ Institute on City Design, City Year Miami, the Florida After School Network, the advisory board for the Manhattan Institute’s Center for Civic Innovation and the Florida Advisory Committee for the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition.

He recently served as a Resident Fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics, and has now resumed his successful corporate and real estate law practice as a senior partner at Lydecker Diaz in Miami, Florida.
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Tags: Barack Obama · Congressional Hispanic Caucus · Digital Divide · Michelle Obama · Technology

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Anna // Sep 10, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    We don’t need a Hispanic Heritage Month. The whole thing is lame and patronizing.

  • 2 IE // Sep 10, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Anna, this is exactly the point. It’s not weather we need it or not, it’s that being closed minded is just plain irresponsible.

    To say we don’t need Hispanic Heritage month on a whim is to say that you might have a better alternative.

    If you do, please feel free to indulge us all with what your method to embrace our culture would be.

    And you don’t need to reiterate the same points that you always bring up. Those points are already well taken.

    Offer some real solutions that can be easily scalable.

    While I appreciate reading your comments, at times it comes across like you are just angry. Personally, I think that you are intelligent enough to offer less idealistic ideas, and more ideas that can actually be implemented.

    As for me, I want to get this blogs message out to the Latino masses so we can start to take control of our Latino agenda. It seems that we as Latinos are so disengaged that it’s easy to be pandered to by both sides of the aisle.

    What are some real actionable solutions that can produce real results? Even if their small incremental results, then in my mind it’s progress.

    As a kid growing up in Los Angeles in the 80′s & 90′s, I never even heard of Hispanic Heritage month. However, I’m glad it’s hear now!

  • 3 Malu // Sep 10, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    First, internet access affordability is not just an issue for the poor and the under-educated. As a Latina graduate student struggling to complete her Ph.D, I appreciate that former Mayor Diaz is concerned about internet access affordability. In an effort to keep costs down and to minimize the distractions at home, I have opted not to have a television and to use my cell phone as my primary means of communication (I don’t have a landline telephone). However, I am being held hostage by the cable and telephone companies that bundle their services (telephone, cable, and internet, for example) at a lower cost. What this means for me is that I end up paying more for internet access than those who opt for the bundled services. More importantly, what this means is that I do not have freedom of choice. I should be able to choose to only have internet services without having to pay higher fees because I do not what or need the other services. Telephone and cable companies have tremendous power over what services they make available to us and at what cost.

    Second, unlike Mr. Diaz, I am less optimistic about the opportunities for policy reform that celebrating Latino Heritage Month can provide. All one has to do is listen to Spanish-speaking radio stations to hear how Corporate America has taken over; beer peddling advertisers promote their products by insinuating that one is not a true Latino unless one is holding a beer in one’s hand. I hope that when politicians celebrate Latino Heritage Month it will be more than to exchange social pleasantries.

    I am curious to know what specific ideas Mr. Diaz has to make the internet more affordable and what reforms he thinks are needed to give customers the freedom to select the services they need/want without being penalized by having to pay higher fees. I welcome a response, Mr. Diaz.

  • 4 Chicano future tense // Sep 11, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Yuk!………
    can’t you just hear the popping lip smacking sounds of all those useless leeches in the CHC kissing royal behind?
    can’t you just smell the stench of so much Latino drool accumulating desperately at such an opportunity?
    Can’t you just hear “Queen Obama” gracing her fawning adoring Latinos with the following pronouncement when asked to comment on the skyrocketing deterioration of quality of life for Latinos,of the fast track express to social,economic hell so many are on: increasing wretchedness,poverty,violence,misery and despair they are experiencing.
    To which her highness Queen Obama replies…
    “Let them eat tacos!”
    Immediately upon uttering those words we can hear her Latino subjects break out in thunderous applause and raucus approval..Hurrah! Hurrah,Hurrah!..

    Then Queen Obama will wave her hand and and out will come the Latino court jesters..the misshapen freaks,hunchbacks and buffoons brought out to amuse and entertain her.
    Her lowly ranked Latino court minions,ladies in waiting,valets,butlers and minor lords have feasted and gorged themselves royally at the banquet table full of foods and delicacies payed for by the sweat and taxes of millions of lowly Latino peasants..

    Yeah, These Hispanic Heritage festivities are a huge “Royal” hypocritical shame and disgrace…
    ..yes patronizing and yes lame too!

    As to ye olde Mayor Diaz and other such Latino politicians,careerists and elitist members of the Royal Court..
    Many of us Latinos refuse to kiss your ring or your backside like so many others who feel they somehow have a stake in loyalty,in groveling,begging and worshipping at the Court Royale for possible positions as Royal toilet cleaners or chicken feather pluckers..Royal jobs ya know..great opportunity..
    A Message from us Field Latino peasants to all those those Latino Royal house servants,elitists,politicians and their loyal legions of flunkies,hanger-ons and wannabees-
    Many of us Latinos are getting wise to your con-game,getting sick and tired of all your hypocritical,parasitic,time wasting and near useless misleadership and treachery..
    Many of us Latinos,like the revealing of the man behind the booth in the “Wizard of OZ”,are beginning to see you for what you really are..gutless,obseqious cowards,synchophantic opportunists,liars and phonies..

    You are not part of the solution..you are part of the problem!

    We peasants are getting wise to your game..

  • 5 Karen // Sep 12, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    IE:

    I agree with Malu in that it’s just an opportunity for corporations to market to us under the guise of helping “the community.”

    People seem to have no problem organizing at the grass roots level when it comes to immigration. So why can’t they organize around other issues as well?

    These would be my issues:

    1) Education funding–and how to change the culture into an achievement oriented culture.

    2) Small business funding. Lessons on how to build a business that you can pass on to your children and grandchildren.

    3) Birth control for women and teaching them how to plan their children. To me, that is probably the #1 problem.

    4) Economic education–how to protect your credit rating, etc

  • 6 IE // Sep 12, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    Karen:

    While I agree with all of your suggestions, perhaps Hispanic Heritage Month isn’t really about tackling political issues, but more about a celebration of our Latino roots.

    Don’t get me wrong, I really believe the points you bring up are very important, but to believe that all corporations are bad because they market to our community during Hispanic Heritage Month is something I would argue. I mean, we all get marketed to daily, and ultimately buy those products that do the best job of advertising to us.

    Plus, at many HHM events, there’s a captive audience where corporations can gain market share for their products or services. How else would corporations grow, create value for their investors, and ultimately create value for our economy as a whole? (of course provided that growth comes in an ethical manner)

  • 7 Anna // Sep 14, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    I think the point is that Hispanic Heritage Month was created primarily as a marketing device. It has nothing to do with our culture. It’s more about the manufactured “Latino” culture Madison ave has created for us. The “Latino” label makes it easier for them to target us as a group.

    They also tie our culture to their products, as someone else said. For instance they tell you that it to be Latino is to drink alcohol.

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