A Free Spanish program for Healthcare professionals and first responders is being offered by Bilingual America. Ricardo González, the Executive Director, writes below how he hopes that his company's Claro initiative will have a positive impact on some of today's challenges, in the same way as Martin Luther King positively impacted America's challenges during his time.
Is Ricardo ambitious? Sure he is. AmeriSpan's view is that people who participate in the Claro Initiative will make an impact on today's challenges and if enough people participate … who knows? If you have been considering one of our Medical Spanish programs, Claro is a great pre/post program to further your Spanish skills.
MLK, Hispanics and The Claro Initiative by Ricardo González
Martin Luther King said, "We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing a being too late."
I don't profess to have inside knowledge on the revered Dr. King's thoughts regarding the Latino experience in the United States. I do know that after his death, his wife Coretta Scott King, was a public supporter of Latino worker rights alongside of César Chávez, the Latino labor rights leader at the time.
I spent many years in Atlanta, GA, Dr King's birthplace. Without a doubt, on some social issues, African Americans and Hispanics do have common experiences and do, many times, work to put out a unified message.
The truth is, however, that many times Hispanics and African Americans are fighting for the same attention from our country, and unfortunately, it can sometimes be a rather tense social and working relationship.
A few practical examples are in order here. Jackie Robinson's legacy is much more chronicled and revered by the general public than that of Roberto Clemente, who basically broke the same ground for Latino ballplayers. César Chávez led a fight for Latino worker rights that was of the highest national social magnitude and he is certainly not held in national reverence as is Dr. King.
That being said, Latinos are in debt to Dr. King and we should recognize it. He brought social and racial justice to the forefront of the American psyche. He, of all people, made it possible for ethnic minorities to live in an America that generally welcomes and understands the need for diversity. Is there more work to be done? Of course, but in the midst of that journey we should also see the many positive steps that have been taken as evidence by the fact that for the first time in our history we have an African American President. We also have Governors and Senators who are Hispanics, several of which were elected in this past election.
Now, let's turn a corner here. As we honor today MLK's life and memory, I want you to think about the quoted words above as it relates to today's world and today's Hispanic experience.
"We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing a being too late."
Although I am not comparing it in any way to the amazing life and legacy of Dr. King, I do think that The Claro Initiative is just as important in today's world as the work he did in his world. Today's world is different from the early to mid 60's when Dr. King was leading the cause for justice for African-Americans. We are truly confronted with the "fierce urgency of now" as he so eloquently states. The reality of today's "fierce urgency" is that Hispanics now far and away outnumber African Americans in the United States. Outside of the numbers themselves, the "fierce urgency of now" is that Hispanics are suffering a nearly 50 percent high school dropout rate nationally, a 45 percent single mother rate, and of all people being sentenced to federal prison, 40 percent are Hispanics. If this isn't "urgent" I don't know what is. On top of this, recognize that it is the Hispanic populace that is projected to nearly triple in the next 40 years.
If you are participating in The Claro Initiative know that every time you work to improve your Spanish, you are struggling to better the Latino populace in this country, and thus, are fighting for a better America. Be reminded today that your mission of learning Spanish is very important to you being able to reach out to the nation's largest minority at a deeper level than possible if you you do not do so. Thus, as we multiply the numbers of learners, understand that your learning Spanish, and being able to communicate effectively in your local area, is critically important to the overall well being of our great country. Capture the moment and, by all means, as Dr. King says, "there is such a thing as being too late."