Increasing Voter Participation isn’t going to solve Latinos long-term Challenges
Higher voter turnout will make us feel better in the short run, but without improving our financial literacy, health and educational success, we are not moving in the right direction.
With the Presidential Elections approaching, the question political analysts ask is: Will more than 31% of Hispanic eligible voters come out to vote on Election Day in 2016? That’s the percentage that came out to vote in the 2010 midterm elections, much lower than the percentage of African-American voters (44%) and Anglo-American voters (49%).
More Latino eligible voters coming out to the polls means more Hispanics taking initiative when it comes to civic responsibility – which is good. However, increasing voter participation alone isn’t going to solve Latinos long-term challenges when it comes to closing the wage gap, improving our health and our educational success. These are the challenges that hamper one’s ability to achieve the American Dream. Taking action on these issues will help Latinos overcome long-term challenges and improve their well-being beyond just getting us to cast a ballot.
Understand Hard Work is second to the Value You Bring
Being raised in environments where your parents had little money, no college education, or friends in high places, a trait has been passed on to you that has served you well – Grit. Grit continues to be your equalizer. Prestigious schools – unlikely. Easy employment opportunities with Fortune 500 companies – yea right. Your hard work ethic is the one thing you have been able to count on. It’s the reason for your success.
However, in this global competitive world, there is a presumption that hard work alone will help you achieve financial prosperity, but that is no longer the case. Especially if you are a Latina where, on average, Hispanic women are paid just 56 cents for every dollar paid to a white mani. When there is a huge wage gap between Hispanics and Whites, and there is, our economic security and that of our families is weakened. And achieving your financial dreams is twice as hard if you start off in the real world with thousands of dollars in debt from student loans. So what should you do?
Begin to think like Mark Cuban, Carlos Slim, and Robert Kiyosaki. These smart investors share one thing in common which we can start practicing in our lives today – start having your money work for you. While we pay for food, clothes, and entertainment, the wealthy invest in assets which allows their money to work for them. When we realize this, we’ll understand that having control over our income, learning about financial literacy, how to run a business, and investing in assets are the most valuable skill we can learn and bring into the business world. Learn how to think in terms of money. Business runs on money, and because of that, it’s supremely important to quantify both effort and result in money made, spent, invested, saved and lost. Be able to express a problem or an opportunity in numbers – time required, time saved, money required, money made. If you can do this, the odds of making a good decision and successful outcome will increase greatly in your favor. If we want our people and America to thrive in this global competitive world, we need more Hispanics learning about financial literacy at a young age instead of dreaming about fancy quinceaneras.
Can your Child can pass the State’s Health Test?
According to the California Department of Education, just 45% of Latino 5th graders and 57% of 9th graders in California passed the aerobic capacity testii which measures one’s fitness level. Within the Latino community, this should be considered a crisis. Unacceptable fitness levels are associated with a higher risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, some forms of cancer, and other health problems. And if this doesn’t worry you, think of it this way – kids who are overweight will likely be overweight as an adult.
Across an array of studies, an adult who is obese is perceived as having low competence, low drive, and less competitive level of intelligence[i]ii. Moreover, obese people make less money and pay higher medical bills as adults. In fact, a difference of about 64 pounds between a normal weight adult and an overweight adult, translates to a 9% decrease in wages[ii]. Long term, our overweight kids will make less money and pay higher medical bills when they are overweight adults. The prevalence of Hispanic kids who are overweight is much higher compared to other races. It’s time we have this conversation and understand the implications of the perceived abundance in food and lack of physical activities we offer our children.
How many words do You Speak to Your Child in an Hour?
Did you know that parents living in poverty speak about 620 words to their children an hour compared to 2,150 words from parents with professional jobs? Why is this important? Because the number of words parents speak and read to their kids has great implications in one’s development and educational success in the long run. The more parents engage in conversations and read to their children, which in turn lays the foundation for ensuring a strong academic career, the faster and higher their vocabularies and IQ grow. For children who come from privileged backgrounds, their vocabulary is accelerated while progress moves at a snail’s pace for kids who come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
Also, kids from higher income families receive far more words of praise compared to children from low-income familiesiiii. If we want our kids to grow and become political leaders, CEOs, Educators, and Generals, we need to start interacting significantly more with our kids from a very early age so their IQ grows higher and faster. Reading Green Eggs and Ham to your one year old will have positive lasting effects on your children’s performance later in life.
For Hispanics, our successes and failures in the next 20 years will be strongly tied to how well or how badly we deal with these challenges that confront us. It’s time for us to overcome the inertia and delay which has so far prevented the majority of us from achieving the American Dream. Yes, we’ve been lagging on the issues of financial literacy, health, and communication skills. However, we are people who have achieved wonderful results through hard work. Hard work breeds self-respect. Hard work breeds toughness and tenacity to get the job done. And now it’s time we put our hard work to overcome long-term challenges that have prevented the majority of us from achieving the American Dream.
About the author
Eric Melchor is the founder of Fly Movement – the first kids’ health program that provides students an opportunity to reach a fitness goal through fun, rewarding team competition. Eric recently was a finalist for the 2015 Houston Tomorrow Catalyst Award which recognizes and honor those whose ideas and actions change and improve the quality for the people of Houston.
Sources for article:
i[i] Latinas and the wage gap – http://www.nationalpartnership.org/research-library/workplace-fairness/fair-pay/latinas-wage-gap.pdfi
i[i] Latino Health Statistics – http://cretscmhd.psych.ucla.edu/healthfair/PDF%20articles%20for%20fact%20sheet%20linking/LatinoHealthStats_CDHS.pdf
i[i]i Study documents workplace bias against obese people – http://www.upenn.edu/pennnews/current/2015-04-16/research/study-documents-workplace-bias-against-obese-people
i[ii] Weight Bias in Work Settings – a Qualitative Review – http://www.karger.com/Article/Pdf/276992
i[ii]i The 30 Million Word Gap – http://literacy.rice.edu/thirty-million-word-gap