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Mexican, yes, of course we can

Commentary by José Limon


In the February 2nd issue of La Prensa, Ramón Pérez wrote very eloquently about the facts regarding our culture’s failure to assimilate into the mainstream or main street U.S.A.  


First, I would like to commend him on his astute vision regarding several observations as to why some would contrive the ‘Mexican’t’ scenario he brings about. The fact of the matter is that although the Latino population is emerging as the largest single ethnic minority in the United States , we are grossly underrepresented throughout various communities, in business, academia, and politics.


The trigger is education. In each of the mainstream communities, we lack representation, because we are not educated in parallel to the statistical make-up of our populace.


Yes, there are a distinct few Latino/Mexican politicos, and fewer CEOs of fortune 500 companies, and college presidents. But the fact is that the high school drop-out rate is staggering and hopeless, when we try to encourage our children to pursue education, when some families are employing working age siblings to assist with mere survival of the basic household.


It’s also true in Mr. Pérez’s account that we have had two generations go by, with few college educated members succeeding in accomplishing, what the majority, even the Black communities have been doing for generations—getting degrees, and succeeding in all areas of business, academia, and politics.  We cannot seek outside help in this venture. It is up to our culture to create a culture of educated individuals, who strive to succeed in the American Dreamscape.


We must encourage our kids and instill in them the true value of an education in this society. True, we are a majority of the service industry, but we should not diminish the value of the individual contribution and the courage to accept jobs that others are too proud to do.


But we must highlight to our youth that those jobs are the alternative to good paying jobs, available when one has the credentials to compete in those fields—engineering, marketing, business, academia, and politics.


So many times I have seen my fellow Mexicans, who did strive for better, educational opportunity and succeed. But also I have seen that rather than look back to the barrio, we head to the suburbs, assimilating into the populace, satisfied with our individual success.


What we need to do is go forward, with our educated minds, but reaching backwards, with our hand outstretched, reaching for those willing to follow us, and holding them until they reach steady ground.


We must give back to our community and sacrifice some time and money to help the next generation to be encouraged by our example of the success we have.


I am fortunate, rather blessed, that I have reached a point in my career where I can take my hand and pull on the hands of those who want to succeed.


For the past 9 years, I have worked with the Toledo Public Schools doing an outreach to Latino students with my employer, GM. Mr. José Luna and I have started a program highlighted with a trip to the GM Tech Center in Warren , Michigan , exposing students to the various careers in automotive design, engineering, and development.


We take Latino students from three local junior high schools to do a job-shadow. The program’s emphasis is the value of education. Our goal is to show these fortunate students the types of jobs only a degree can bring.


We don’t preach, we show. We give the kids a first-hand look at other Latinos—educated and highly skilled engineers, designers, and planners—of the type of environment we work in. Our single hope is that these students be encouraged to finish high school and feel compelled to go to college with the hope that one day they will work in our environment.

It is this type of practice, we, who have succeeded, must develop more and more. We need to reach back while looking forward. Our youth depend on role models to develop an interest, a set of goals.


But, if our youth are to succeed in understanding the hope they have within them, it’s our job to encourage and promote the value our educations have brought to us.


We need to light the fire of desire in them. Without an education or even a desire to finish high school, we will continue to be looked upon as “Mexican’t.”  


Read the original article Are we Mexican's or Mexican'ts? 





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