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Structural inequities to Latinx progress examined

UnidosUS report cites areas where policies and practices deemed institutionally racist from the past and present have hurt Latinx community development

The general status of U.S. Latinos lagging in areas such educational attainment, health care outcomes, adequate housing and overall wealth can be traced to systemic racism and structural inequities they have faced dating back at least 180 years, finds a report released Thursday, April 8 by UnidosUS, a national civil rights organization that advocates for the nation’s 60 million Latino residents.

The report was a broad attempt to examine some of the structural barriers that have kept U.S. Latinos from reaching parity with white U.S. residents. It analyzed policies, structural impediments and other obstacles - both intentional and unintentional - that have left behind U.S. Latinos in areas such as education, health and well-being, housing, employment, immigration, political representation and overall wealth. The measures were compared to data on white U.S. residents.

The report was prompted by the racial reckoning the country has experienced in response to the Black Lives Matter protests, the death of George Floyd at the knee of a Minneapolis police officer in 2020, and the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on Latino and Black Americans.

Many U.S. Latinos faced segregated housing dating back to the 1800s when the U.S. Southwest - then part of Mexico - was annexed by the U.S. following the U.S.-Mexico war. The subsequent failed treaty and policies left Latinos segregated and under resourced in key socio economic categories related to quality of life. In the following decades, poor housing conditions and under resourced schools had lasting impacts on job quality, political participation and lower quality health care as well as other key benchmarks for quality of life.

The report states, “Together, these disparities continue to reinforce the separate and unequal status of Latinos in the United States by fueling a cycle of inequity where power (in terms of wealth or representation in government)—remains out of reach for many Hispanics.”

The report offers three recommendations to improve the status of Latinos:

  • Public discourse should include how systemic racism has hurt the Latino community throughout its 180-plus year history under American jurisdiction.

  • Educational institutions should more accurately reflect the Hispanic experience in the U.S., including coverage of how systemic racism has affected Latinos.

  • Latino advocates should become better informed about systemic racism, and more intentional about informing others about the clear linkages between institutional racism and current challenges faced by the U.S. Latino communities.

In these days of racial reckoning, the information shared in this report and others like it should be the starting point in acknowledging and understanding how U.S. Latinos have faced a long and difficult road to reaching parity and the American dream,” said Promise Arizona Executive Director Petra Falcon. “Promise Arizona asks that policymakers, educators and others in a position to review and rescind these structural impediments use this report as a guidepost to empower Latinos to reach their full potential. Promise Arizona is dedicated to building power to support every Arizonan's right to meet their full human potential.”

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