HISPANIC HERITAGE SERIES PART V OF VI
Juana Bordas is leaving an indelible mark in the Latino community. Although not a Colorado native, Bordas originally immigrated from Nicaragua at a young age, Bordas has been the epitome of leadership, paving the way for tomorrow’s Latino/a leaders. She is an author (“Salsa, Soul, and Spirit: Leadership for a Multicultural Age” and “The Power of Latino Leadership — Culture, Inclusion, and Contribution”), helped found Mi Casa Resource Center for Women, founding president and CEO of the National Hispana Leadership Institute, founder of The Circle of Latina Leadership and president of Mestiza Leadership International. She served as a volunteer for the Peace Corps and is also a columnist for The Washington Post’s “On Leadership”. She has received numerous awards including the 2009 Unique Woman of Colorado. Below is her written word on diversity.
Latinos are diversity — a rich salsa of cultures, countries and ethnic groups. Latinos come in many colors: white, brown, chocolate or latte. They have origins in twenty-two countries. Latinos are a fusion people — mainly Spanish and the indigenous people of this hemisphere. With such a colorful array of fiesta loving, family-centered, hard-working and tamale eating Latinos, one might wonder, what could possibly keep this sundry group together? What are the connecting points that give a shared identity to this diversity of people?
Much like the Jewish community, Latinos are an ethnic or cultural group. They are connected by the Spanish language, a shared history, a revered spiritual tradition and common values. Values are fastening points — the nucleus — shaping a collective identity from the cultural smorgasbord of the delectable Latino familia. As Arturo Vargas, president of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials observes, “I’ve met Latinos all over the country and as diverse as Latinos are there’s a set of core values we hold. It’s about family, and the face of their children, and the face of the future. There’s a level of optimism and a sense of community.”
Bienvenido to Hispanic Heritage
Hispanics were only declared an official group in the 1980 U.S. Census. Paradoxically, while the Census brought together the multiple categories of Hispanic people, Latino subgroups continue celebrating their distinct identities and nationalities. Respecting diversity and inclusiveness are core Latino values.
For instance, Hispanic Heritage Month starts Sept. 15, because the independence day of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile and Belize are this same week. Latino inclusiveness is also evident in the way they embrace many generations. Latinos venerate age and experience. At the same time, young people are the promise of tomorrow. This is even more imperative today — the 2010 U.S. Census indicated that 22 percent of children under eighteen are Hispanic.
Latino inclusiveness can be found in their bienvenido (welcoming) spirit, which reflects their hospitality, generosity and receptivity to differences. Because of this Latinos hold the promise of a new America — one with inclusiveness and diversity at its core. Today as we seek to heal a divided nation — as we struggle to find the common ground that unites us — Latinos invite people to look to the cultural, spiritual and historical bonds that hold us together. Their bienvenido spirit summons people to work together to build America’s future today. Hispanic Heritage is not just one month — it is ensuring prosperity and the common welfare for future generations!
Look for the first comprehensive book on Latino Leadership, which includes 10 principles from this dynamic and diverse community. “The Power of Latino Leadership — Culture, Inclusion, and Contribution” by Juana Bordas will be published by Berrett-Koehler in April 2013.