It was an honor to represent the Latino community at the Townhall meeting with President Obama, on June 1st, 2016 in the city of Elkhart, Indiana.
Everyone who participated in Obama’s PBS NewsHour Townhall meeting probably felt that it has been worthwhile to spend more than five hours at the Lerner Center, the event’s location.
There were 100 individuals selected and each one had to pass a security background check and submit a question to the president. PBS would chose the selected questions to be asked to the president.
The organizers were very welcoming and efficient. Things run smoothly, thanks to the very professional work of everyone.
It was disappointing that no questions from Latinos were presented to the President, because from the Latino community, 18 individuals were selected to the Townhall meeting, representing several fields of action.
Elkhart Memorial High School - Shakira Perez
Goshen High School - Jose Chiquito, Elizabeth Martinez
Goshen College - Alexa Valdez
Indiana University South Bend - Rhadi Buenrostro
Ivy Tech Community College - Karina Barron
Northern Indiana Hispanic Health Coalition- Liliana Quintero
Dame tu Mano - Diana Montiel
Oaklawn - Lupita Zepeda
El Puente Newspaper - Zulma Prieto
WKAM 1460, La Raza - Ignacio Zepeda
Intercambio Express - Isaac Torres
Merino Law Firm, P.C.- Felipe Merino
Elkhart County Public Library - Lisa Guedea Carreño
Goshen College - Richard Aguirre, Gilberto Perez Jr.
Independent - Sonny Carreño
Pastor and African American and Latino youth advocate - Rev. McNeal Stewart
The questions posed by these individuals probably addressed several topics, including the immigration issue that is so close to our hearts.
Even more the Latino representation reflected the social composition of the city and resembles that of the county.
The fact is that according to Census data from 2010, in the city of Elkhart, Indiana from a population of 50.949, 66, the numbers were: 66.1% White, 22.5% Hispanic or Latino (of any race), 15.4% Black or African American, 0.6% American Indian, 0.9% Asian, 1.1% two or more races.
Let history record the fact that the Latino population in Elkhart County and throughout the country has increased and they are participating in all fields of activity. Latinos also represent a large number of the factory workers who have contributed to the economical turnaround and recovery of the city and county. Without them we would not have the current economical improvement.
The Latino presence in the county and throughout the country remind us of the history of the United States, where the Native Americans of the Americas met Europe and the Spaniards first colonized the land that carries Spanish language names like California, Nevada, and Florida, and so on that go all the way to the Canadian border. It was also Spanish the first language to be spoken throughout the country.
The typical association of Latinos as the ‘Newcomers’ brings to mind that they are the unwelcomed immigrants, even though they have been part of the country before others arrived.
The original Native Americans who nowadays represent a minority in the land that was theirs, prove how the social composition of the country has changed,
Let PBS take note that people who represent a significant part of city’s population should receive equal representation within a PBS Newshour. Obama missed the opportunity to hear the Latino’s questions.
But past history should not keep us apart. The present and future reality is that we all share the common task of living here and making this a better place for future generations of all ethnicities and races, but it should also reminds us that we are all foreigners on the land, and only passing through.
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