Post Independent opinion: We should work to bring Anglo, Hispanic communities together |

Post Independent opinion: We should work to bring Anglo, Hispanic communities together

Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

The recently released 2010 Census data has confirmed what is readily apparent: The Hispanic population of the area has been increasing rapidly in recent years.

But there is still work to be done on integrating the Anglo and Hispanic communities and assuring that Hispanics have a voice in government.

El Jebel, in unincorporated Eagle County, and both Carbondale and Parachute in Garfield County each now have a Hispanic population of about 40 percent.

These numbers are even more pronounced among children, with Anglo kids now in the minority in El Jebel, Glenwood Springs and Parachute.

And it is with children that change and integration will be occur more naturally.

The Hispanic youth who were active in trying to get the ASSET bill passed in the Colorado Legislature recently met with the Anglo community as part of their effort to improve their chances of being successful in this culture.

But integration of the first-generation youth or second-generation adults will be relatively easy. Children who have grown up here belong here – they were born into both cultures – and will not have to think twice about getting involved.

In order to speed up the process of integration and have our representative government live up to its name, we need some first-generation adult immigrants to take the lead and get involved politically in their communities. It is high time that local town boards and city councils have Hispanic candidates.

What’s important to the Hispanic community: Schools? Parks? Roads? Business incentives? Affordable housing? Are the important items different for Hispanics than they are for Anglos?

Perhaps the governing bodies cannot answer these questions effectively without a Hispanic representative to advocate for his or her constituents. We all want to have a voice in government, someone who can relate to our needs and desires, who is willing to listen and who can accomplish what is important to us.

Bilingual business owners would make good candidates for office. They are community leaders, understand how the system works, can communicate in two languages and are contributing to the tax base. The more taxes we pay, the more interested we’re liable to be in how that money is spent.

Former Glenwood Mayor Bruce Christensen said in his interview for Immigrant Stories, published May 2, that he thinks the first generation of any group to immigrate to this country is treated poorly.

It’s a two-way street. Anglos must reach out to Hispanics by providing interpreters or printing brochures in Spanish, and the Hispanics must accept these invitations.

A great recent example of mixing of the cultures was in Carbondale at the Crystal River Elementary School community playground project, which brought out a good cross-section of the community to work together for a common purpose, to build something for their children.

Hopefully in a matter of years this simple example of different cultures working together toward a common goal will no longer be so unusual as to be worthy of mention.

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