In my last post I introduced the concept of “Economic Parity with Population Parity” a simple formula for all elected officials and community activist to follow when negotiating for the fair equity of public, or private resources. This is not a new idea. We were saying this same thing back in the 1980’s when it was declared: “The Decade of the Hispanics” by Time magazine. Well we all know that the decade came and went and the poverty and conditions did not improve for the countries fastest growing community, in fact in many communities it got worse. The problem was we never got the attention of the “powers that be” to promote the concept and as usual everyone went their own way in trying to address our issues. The fact that we have not improved much has prompted me to begin re-introducing this concept and perhaps others will now accept it and help me circulate this to our elected and public officials.
“Economic Parity with Population Parity” is not a difficult formula to follow. If Latinos make a certain percentage of the population in any geographic location, then Latinos should have that same percentage in whatever the resource is, employment, education, loans, executive positions, contracts, or members of the Mickey Mouse Club, lo Que Sea! Etc. We are asking for public fairness, no more and no less.
For example, if we make up 16.8% of the New York State population (2010 Census data), then it would stand to reason that we should have a respectful percentage if not 16% of the jobs in the New York State government. The fact that it is estimated that we have less than 4% of the state jobs in unacceptable, period. Who has spoken up on this ridiculous abuse? Are we to believe that Latinos are not qualified to hold a state job?
Perhaps our elected officials should learn from our community activist. Take my friend Lucky Rivera and his organization Positive Work Force. Lucky has been successfully placing Latinos and African-Americans in the hard to get into construction industry for over two decades. He has a better placement record than many government funded programs and he receives no government funding. How does he do it? He uses the Economic Parity with Population Parity formula.
His guys are constantly monitoring construction sites throughout the city, especially the ones in our communities. They stand outside and they simply count the number of workers that come in and out in the beginning of the project. If they notice that only a handful of people of color are working on the job site, Lucky tries to arrange a meeting with the contractors, developers and anyone in charge of the construction to get more accurate figures.
His argument is very simple, if they are building in a community that is majority Latino/African-American he wants the contractor to hire more people from the community, mainly many of his members who live in the community. If the contractor is smart, he understands the issue and agrees to hire local community members. If they don’t, they stand to lose a lot of money when Positive Work Force mounts a picket in front of the site and possibly prevents trucks to enter to deliver timely needed construction supplies. Lucky’s tactics might not be the most popular, but guess what? They have worked. His interest in getting jobs for his members is one that no one can argue against. If you are working in our community, if you are benefiting from our community, then you have to share the wealth with our community.
Well, in a way that is what Economic Parity with Population Parity is. The powers that be, need to understand, or in this case, made to understand that business as usual will no longer be tolerated. All statistics point to the very same issue, Latinos are the worse off group in the city and state. So perhaps it’s time to look at a new scenario. We need a paradigm shift and consider that if we really want to help our community overcome the dire poverty that is suffocating us, then we need to consider asking for much more than the crumbs that we have been receiving from the public and private sector.
I make a call for all our newly elected officials to start promoting the concept of Economic Parity with Population Parity and I promise that they can not do worse than what we have now. I will continue to promote this concept and urge all of our readers, friends and associates to do the same. Let’s continue to learn from the community activist that are not in elected office, but that have a lot to teach.