While I was growing up in Minnesota in the late 90’, I notice there was a lot of poverty in the Latino community. Most of our 1st generation were illiterate and migrant workers. I knew few if any college graduates within my community. The only Latinos I knew that were part of the middle class were in the construction or landscaping industry. Even then, they suffered from lack of basic health care.
I had personally met 1 highly educated Latino by the time I turned 13 years old. I started to notice many Latinos I had known either dropped out of high school, got in trouble with drugs or became single mothers. I started to believe that it was just how it was going to be. Latinos largely were destined to be in a cycle of poverty. We just didn’t know any better.
In high school I started to meet more affluent Latinos. They were Doctors, Teachers, Social workers and small business owners. I noticed that most of them where married to white educated people. I started to wonder why I didn’t see them in my community. It was simple, they moved out to the suburbs and left behind their communities.
I started to resent Latinos that married white people. I felt as if they completely abandon their own community. I soon figured out that the few Latinos that did attend collage ended up marrying fellow students who were mainly white. I couldn’t blame them anymore. I let go of the resentment.
As I was getting ready for my own adventure into collage, many of my peers continued to make crucial mistakes. Drugs, dropping out of school, and again single motherhood. I was sad. I wondered why. I had the same education and Church influence as they did. What went wrong, what is wrong with our people.
In my early twenties, I started to notice a turn around with my Latino peers. They were going back to school, they were getting white color jobs and they were forming healthy marriages. Incomes started to go up. I thought to myself, now our community will get up. Our Churches will have affluent leaders. We will leave behind religious traditions and form healthier communities.
I didn’t happen. My new Latino affluent peers continued to migrate out of our communities. Our churches stayed old fashion and full of older gatekeepers. And the cycle of poverty continued to ravish our next generation.
The best we had in our community became common and part of the collective norm in white churches and communities. Instead of our best coming back to be a light for our next generation, they choose comfort and security. They could have chosen to be great examples and beacons of light. But hope again seems to leave. Few are the ones who choose to reach back to the places where we came from. Few help and serve those that have less.