News

Latinx Growth in Metro Atlanta

By Jimena Somilleda

As of 2020, metro Atlanta is one of the fastest-growing regions for Latinx growth. Over 49% of all foreign-born residents in metro Atlanta identify as Hispanic and/or Latinx. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, between 2000 and 2010, metro Atlanta’s Latinx population grew from 268,851 to 547,400. The dramatic increase in growth within the Latinx community has proven to have a powerful economic, cultural, and social influence on the city of Atlanta.

The Census of 2020 goes beyond to demonstrate that the Hispanic/Latinx community continues to grow in the greater metro Atlanta area. After analyzing the data gathered from the 2010 and 2020 Census, Atlanta saw a 31% increase in the Hispanic population in just   10 years. The tremendous amount of growth within the Latinx community is due to the ever-growing business scene in the Atlanta metropolitan area. The metro Atlanta region has quickly become a hub for business that attracts a lot of promising job opportunities. The rise of job opportunities in the area has influenced the growing presence of Latinx people in the region. It is expected that if the trend of Latinx growth continues, in 2040 metro Atlanta will be home to over 820,000 Hispanics  and Latinx people, making metro Atlanta one of the fastest-growing regions for the Hispanic/Latinx population.

The heavy and increasing presence of Hispanics in metro Atlanta has brought about a boom in Latinx-owned businesses that contribute to the local economy. As more and more Hispanic and Latinx migrants settle in the metro Atlanta area, they establish their own businesses that spread their culture to a majority Anglo culture. Latinx culture has snuck its way into mainstream gastronomy trends, entertainment, and recreation in the greater Atlanta area. This creates an appreciation and certain level of admiration for the growing Hispanic population in the area. The cooperation of Hispanic and Latinx businesses in metro Atlanta is contributing to a growing presence and empowerment of Latinx and Hispanic residents. This newly found empowerment inspires movements for Latinx and Hispanic residents to run for elected office positions and advocate for needs of the growing Latinx and Hispanic populations in the area.

The growing Latinx and Hispanic population in metro Atlanta makes this region a focal point for a marginalized group. It’s an opportunity for Hispanics and Latinx people to thrive, establish  businesses, and advocate for their communities. The quick growth of the Latinx population in metro Atlanta demonstrates the impact of the Latinx and Hispanic community in the United States.

Works Cited:

https://atlantaregional.org/news/workforce-economy/arc-regional-snapshot-growth-strong-metro- atlantas-hispanic-latino-communities/

https://www.thrillist.com/lifestyle/atlanta/latino-owned-businesses-in-atlanta-how-to-support https://33n.atlantaregional.com/data-diversions/national-hispanic-heritage-month-regional-popul ation-trends

 

NOTE: The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the author only. It is not to be assumed that the opinions are those of GALEO or the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund. For the official position on any issue for GALEO, please contact Jerry Gonzalez, CEO of GALEO at jerry@galeo.org

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Spanglish Between Generations

By Jimena Somilleda

As more and more first-generation Latinx Americans continue to grow up in the United States, Spanglish continues to develop. Spanglish is a recent linguistic phenomenon that blends grammar, syntax, and slang of both English and Spanish. In more recent times, Spanglish has been perceived as a fake, Americanized version of Spanish and has posed the question: is Spanglish a valid language? Spanglish speakers who were raised in the United States make the argument that Spanglish is a newly reformed version of Spanish. On the other hand, Spanish speakers who were raised outside of the United States tend to reject the validity of Spanglish and make the claim that Spanglish is an indication of lack of knowledge in the Spanish language. Many linguists trace Spanglish back to the habit of code-switching which is the tendency to seamlessly switch between English in Spanish. While some may look at this as uneducated, many perceive this linguistic development as a stride towards a progressive and ever-changing Latinx culture. 

Speaking Spanglish became popularized with Chicanos and has bled into other Hispanic and Latinx communities present in the United States. This new dialect came about from the blending of English and Spanish to communicate amongst a totally new and unique generation of Latinxs. The incorporation of both English and Spanish vocabulary in the same sentence and even mixing of everyday words such as “parquear”, “troca”, and “lonche” have caused controversy among generations of Latinx-Americans. 

In mainstream America, many younger generations of Latinxs are speaking more and more Spanglish. This is in part due to the fact that many are raised speaking Spanish at home and English at school. However, this is perceived by many as a sign of a lack of education and class. Older generations of Latinxs in the U.S. resent this development to their language, claiming it is the American colonization of their native tongue. Among older generations, Spanglish is seen as the white-washing and simplification of their language, which serves to explain their disdain towards this linguistic development. This is made evident with the controversy surrounding Spanglish terms such as “Latinx” because it is seen as an unnecessary change to the language. 

To counter this argument, younger generations of Latinxs are speaking Spanglish more fluently in order to accommodate for the influence that the majority Anglo culture in the United States has on their traditional Latinx and Hispanic heritage. Among younger Latinx-Americans, Spanglish is a unique form of linguistic self-expression that blends pivotal parts of two distinct cultures. Over the years, Spanglish has become more politicized, but it seems that younger Spanglish speakers defend this new Spanish dialect and support its development. Spanglish is becoming popular among the younger generation because it is diverging away from gendered nouns and pronouns and even introduces new terms that describe the first-generation Latinx-American experience. These characteristics of Spanglish make it more inclusive to the younger generation of Latinos while still keeping in touch with their cultural roots through language. 

Despite the ongoing controversy surrounding Spanglish and its validity as a language, many can agree on the fact that Spanglish is a new development to what can be considered an ancient language. More than that though, Spanglish is an attempt to hold on to tradition and carry it into a generation of diasporic Latinxs. The blending of two distinct languages and the habit of code-switching is an attempt to hold on to a language from a culture shared at home, while generations continue to prosper in a distinct American culture.

Works Cited

https://www.panoramas.pitt.edu/opinion-and-interviews/spanglish-validity-spanglish-language

https://prizedwriting.ucdavis.edu/spanglish-language-chicanos

https://www.nytimes.com/1997/03/28/opinion/is-spanglish-a-language.html

NOTE: The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the author only. It is not to be assumed that the opinions are those of GALEO or the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund. For the official position on any issue for GALEO, please contact Jerry Gonzalez, CEO of GALEO at jerry@galeo.org

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Classism in Education

By Jimena Somilleda

Classism is defined as the prejudice against or in favor of people of a certain societal status. In recent years, classism has become more and more prevalent in our everyday lives, including education. This has created an unequal educational system that favors wealthy communities and gives students of a lower income a huge disadvantage. Classism in the education system can be measured using different factors, such as: availability of resources, students’ internet dependency, and students’ lives beyond high school graduation. These manifestations of classism highlight and perpetuate the disparities among different social classes. 

The distinctions between affluent students from well-off districts and students from lower-income districts are evident in many aspects of academia. For example, students from school districts located in more affluent districts tend to perform significantly better on standardized tests such as the SAT or the ACT. This is due to the fact that these students have access to resources such as private tutors, expensive practice programs, technology, etc. On the contrary, students from less affluent communities present lower test scores. This is a result of their lack of expensive resources such as tutors and learning programs. Consequently, these students aren’t performing very well academically, in the classroom, or on test scores. In addition, more affluent school districts receive a substantial amount of funding from grants and loans, which permits their students to access tools, programs, and resources available to them to help these students gain a lead in academic success. 

Classism has snuck its way into our education systems in ways that make it seem almost invisible. Another way in which classism is present in education is the recent trend of internet dependency. This was made especially evident after the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to in-person instruction and made the transition to virtual learning. School districts located in areas that are more well-off have access to technology that enables a different kind of learning experience. This better learning experience will catapult the students to success. On the contrary, many students who aren’t from an affluent school district will oftentimes struggle to get their hands on a computer to complete their routine homework assignments. School districts, administrators, and teachers are indulging ignorance when assigning routine online homework and study material. In doing so, some students are able to get ahead while many may fall behind. 

The classism in education doesn’t stop after obtaining a high school diploma. On the contrary, classism becomes magnified in higher education. Colleges and universities have become a manifestation of classism, especially with the growing dependency on technology and the societal pressures associated with college life. Essential tools and resources needed to make it through the challenging process of getting a degree are oftentimes very expensive or reserved for a select few, leaving many students at a huge disadvantage on their scholarly journey. Colleges and universities nationwide utilize online homework programs and requirements of purchasing a textbook. Besides this, they also use expensive housing, meal plans and strict attendance policies to name a few examples of devices that can be seen as inherently classist. These examples oftentimes pose a challenge to many students and places lower-income students at a disadvantage. Post-secondary institutions are progressing in their learning experiences and teaching methods, but in doing so, they are displacing and disregarding the circumstances of low-income students. 

Classism has maneuvered its way into our education systems and its influence has raised red flags among lower-income students and communities. To prevent the impacts of classism in education it is important to consider its impact on lower-income students. It is also imperative to consider how classism impairs their abilities to continue learning. Making progress towards equal opportunity for all students is seen as an elusive goal because equal opportunity does not always mean equal achievement.  It is important to hold academic institutions accountable and call out these institutions of oppression to make strides towards a more equitable future with equal opportunities for achievement. 

NOTE: The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the author only. It is not to be assumed that the opinions are those of GALEO or the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund. For the official position on any issue for GALEO, please contact Jerry Gonzalez, CEO of GALEO at jerry@galeo.org

 

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The Haitian Immigration Crisis

By Jimena Somilleda

In recent weeks, thousands of Haitian immigrants have crossed the Rio Grande between Ciudad Acuña and Del Rio in hopes of seeking asylum in the United States. Mass migration efforts spiked in lieu of the assassination of Haitian president Jovenel Moïse in July 2021 and after the strike of a catastrophic earthquake. However, when migrants from Haiti and other countries arrived at the Texas-Mexico border, they were met with U.S. Border Patrol authorities on horseback armed with whips. Currently, there are more than 10,000 Haitian immigrants detained at the U.S. – Mexico border awaiting deportation as efforts to crack down on the border intensify.

U.S. officials at the border are quickly trying to process the migrants and asylum seekers detained at the border. Meanwhile, in Mexico, authorities are enforcing strict immigration protocols in attempts to prevent more migrants from approaching the U.S. Border. As of now, there are thousands of migrants and asylum seekers, many of them Haitian, being detained in between the U.S. and Mexico. They currently face the decision of staying in Mexico or turning themselves in to U.S. officials and being deported back to their home nations.

After Haiti’s devastating earthquake in 2010, the United States granted temporary protected status (TPS) to Haitian migrants, but the Trump administration let this policy expire. The Biden administration renewed this after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and the recent earthquake that wreaked havoc on Haiti. Some migrants were able to obtain TPS on the claim of asylum, but some weren’t as fortunate. Many migrants from Haiti were detained and put  in planes to be deported back to Haiti immediately. Many Haitian migrants however, crossed the border, and at one point more than 10,000 migrants established a massive encampment under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas.

As many Haitian migrants continue to cross the Texas-Mexico border, U.S. Border Patrol Officials were waiting on horseback, using whips to round up Haitian migrants and shouting “Let’s go! Get out now! Back to Mexico!”. Many inhumane and violent crimes have been committed against migrants and asylum seekers by Border Patrol officers, despite Biden’s promise to implement more humane immigration policies and practices. Pictures of U.S. officials on horses, rounding up migrants, have gone viral and have caused an uproar of backlash from the general public.

What is occurring in the southern border of the United States has brought attention to the inhumane and unjust immigration practices implemented by American officials. Many have claimed these practices to be fueled by racism and hatred. Regardless, it is important to consider that many of these migrants are making this life-threatening trek in hopes of a better life in the United States. The events seen at the border are hateful and unnecessary. Something must be done to end this violence.

NOTE: The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the author only. It is not to be assumed that the opinions are those of GALEO or the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund. For the official position on any issue for GALEO, please contact Jerry Gonzalez, CEO of GALEO at jerry@galeo.org

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A Closer Look into Hispanic Heritage Month

By Alba Villarreal

It is Hispanic Heritage Month (or “HHM”), a month that celebrates the culture, history, and pride within the Hispanic community. As our community celebrates throughout the months of September and October, it is important that we highlight the history of this holiday as well as the impact it has had on our communities. Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off every year on September 15th until October 15th, which to some may be odd. However, these dates have great significance for the Hispanic community. 

Internationally, September 15th is known as the day the Act of Independence of Central America was ratified by five Central American countries: Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Costa Rica. These five countries declared their independence in 1821 after being under Spanish colonial rule for hundreds of years. Many attribute the Mexican War of Independence, which began 11 years prior and celebrate their independence on September 16th, as the instigating force behind these liberation movements in Latin America. Other Latin American independence days in September include Brazil’s, which is on September 7th, and Belize’s, which is on September 21. President Lyndon B. Johnson designated September 15th as the first day of Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968. It wasn’t until 1988 when Ronald Reagan signed a bill that extended Hispanic Heritage Week to a month and it has remained that way since. 

Since this holiday’s creation, people have used this time to educate their community about issues and advocate for more equal rights. Many believe that companies and politicians take advantage of Hispanic Heritage Month because they pander to the community in hopes of achieving financial gain. Taking the time to educate leaders and influential people about Hispanic Heritage Month and its significance can make the difference between honoring Hispanic and Latinx people and using them. 

Over the years, people have also called for more inclusion during the month. Many have voiced the opinion that the narrative surrounding HHM has always centered around lighter skin Hispanic and Latinx people, excluding Black, brown, and indigenous people. Prominent examples of this exclusion can be seen in media, where actors that have a lighter complexion such as Salma Hayek will be favored over actors like Yalitza Aparicio. For an inclusive, and culturally accurate celebration of the month, there needs to be more inclusivity. 

Celebrate this month by attending events in your community and by being inclusive and prideful in your culture! 

NOTE: The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the author only. It is not to be assumed that the opinions are those of GALEO or the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund. For the official position on any issue for GALEO, please contact Jerry Gonzalez, CEO of GALEO at jerry@galeo.org

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The Dangers of Disinformation

By Alba Villarreal

COVID-19 disinformation is false information that is spread with the intent of being harmful. As the pandemic rages on, COVID-19 disinformation is becoming more common throughout the country.  Communities who are most vulnerable are intentionally targeted to receive COVID-19 disinformation. It is specifically aimed at Latinx and Hispanic communities in the form of conspiracies. Disinformation is also the result of fear mongering, leveraging language barriers that harm the Latinx and Hispanic communities.

Hispanic people are limited in Spanish-language sources and rely heavily on unofficial, sometimes false sources to receive COVID-19-related information. When the information is not readily available to them in Spanish, they outsource to the internet to provide them with any information about COVID-19. Social media platforms like Facebook and messaging applications like Whatsapp help spread conspiracies at dangerous rates and can cause more harm than good.  In fact, a study conducted by VotoLatino shows that Facebook is the leading platform for the spread of disinformation amongst the Latinx community.[1] The community also heavily relies on Spanish radio and television.

In Miami, a Spanish radio show host was advertising a medicine named Ivermectin to treat COVID-19. [2]Despite being a drug used for livestock, Ivermectin gained a reputation of being able  to treat human illnesses involving parasites and then as a cure for COVID-19.[3] The Center for Disease Control and Prevention cautioned against using the drug as people are reporting severe illness after taking it. This instance is one of many where Latinx and Hispanic communities are fed false information that can lead to serious harm.

The harm that’s done extends past taking dangerous deworming medicine. It is also in the vaccination rates of the Latinx and Hispanic communities. While Latinx people represent 17% of the total vaccinated population[4], surveys show that amongst unvaccinated Latinx individuals, 51% are not planning on getting the vaccine. Unsurprisingly, that percentage rises to 67% in Spanish-speaking households. (Votolatino, 2021) The hesitancy of Hispanic households from taking the vaccine shows how effective the disinformation is and the urgency to promote factual information about COVID-19.

Disinformation is distinct from misinformation as disinformation is intended to be harmful. In a nation where a significant percentage of the population speaks Spanish, it is important that both disinformation and misinformation are limited. COVID-19 has already taken a toll on our communities and science shows that vaccines are incredibly effective in reducing further harm. If vaccine disinformation spreads, our community will continue to suffer. Government agencies and credible news sources should put in more effort to reach out to Hispanic and Latinx communities to ensure that factual information is spread.

[1] “NEW Study: Facebook Is Primary Driver of Covid-19 Misinformation in the LATINX Community, Fueling Vaccine Hesitancy.” Voto Latino, 2021, votolatino.org/media/press-releases/vaccine-hesitancy/.

[2] Sesin, Carmen. “Spanish-Language Covid Disinformation Is Aimed AT Latinos as DELTA SURGES.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 8 Sept. 2021, www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/spanish-language-covid-disinformation-aimed-latinos-delta-surges-rcna1809.

[3] Collins, Ben, and Brandy Zadrozny. “Ivermectin Demand Drives Some to pro-Trump Telemedicine Website.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 27 Aug. 2021, www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/ivermectin-demand-drives-trump-telemedicine-website-rcna1791.

[4] Nambi Ndugga  “Latest Data On COVID-19 Vaccinations by Race/Ethnicity.” KFF, 18 Aug. 2021, www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/latest-data-on-covid-19-vaccinations-race-ethnicity/.

 

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Imposter Syndrome

By Alba Villarreal

Imposter syndrome is one of the most misunderstood, yet universally experienced phenomena in the Latinx community. It is defined as intense feelings of self-doubt and not belonging, both which can severely affect mental health. Like the name implies, people who experience this in their everyday lives feel like imposters. Navigating as an “imposter,” they are constantly afraid that one day they will be exposed as being a fraud. According to a study by the Behavioral Science Research Institute, nearly 70% of professionals have experienced imposter syndrome. [1]

While it is not an official diagnosis, imposter syndrome is very real in the psyches of Latinx individuals who struggle to find their place in majority white academic and professional settings. As the Latinx community grows and enters the workforce and higher education, many find themselves lost and unsure of their abilities. Women, especially, are more common to struggle with 54% reporting it, making Latinx women and other women of color the most susceptible to imposter syndrome.[2]

One of the most common spaces that imposter syndrome is experienced is in academic settings, where large numbers of Latinx students struggle constantly. Without proper support, these feelings of self-doubt can grow and create such stress on a student that it leads to poor grades and risks their academic future. Many predominantly white colleges and universities are not equipped with addressing students through this hardship and thus lose many students every year. This can explain the lower college graduation rates in Latinx communities.

Even post-graduation, Latinx individuals go on to struggle with imposter syndrome in professional settings. Navigating a new career in a predominantly white space can be difficult for Latinx folks and for many, it strains productivity and mental health.

Without proper resources and the disproportionate access to education for Latinx communities, people will continue to struggle with imposter syndrome. Mental health resources such as therapy can improve conditions that create such feelings of doubt. However, diversifying our professional and academic spaces will significantly reduce the prevalence of imposter syndrome.

[1] -, Shirley Gomez, et al. “Coping with Imposter Syndrome, and Surviving to Tell the Story.” BeLatina, 25 Aug. 2020, belatina.com/latinos-impostor-syndrome/.

[2] Muller-Heyndyk, Rachel. “Female and Younger Leaders More Susceptible to Imposter Syndrome.” HR Magazine, 2019, www.hrmagazine.co.uk/content/news/female-and-younger-leaders-more-susceptible-to-imposter-syndrome.

NOTE: The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the author only. It is not to be assumed that the opinions are those of GALEO or the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund. For the official position on any issue for GALEO, please contact Jerry Gonzalez, CEO of GALEO at jerry@galeo.org

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A Possible Path to Citizenship

By Alba Villarreal

On August 24th, 2021, the House of Representatives passed a 3.5 trillion dollar budget resolution that could greatly affect the lives of millions of Americans. House Democrats set aside billions of dollars to improve the quality of life for working-class families by proposing Medicare expansion, paid family leave, and child care. Immigration reform, however, is also a possibility with the passing of this budget plan. 

With over 10 million undocumented immigrants today, it is immigration reform that is one of the most controversial yet necessary tasks that lawmakers have to deal with. Democratic lawmakers hope to provide solutions for undocumented individuals by proposing some time of immigration reform that creates a clear and more efficient path to citizenship. Providing legal status to the undocumented individuals would require lawmakers to adjust current immigration law, which has been pretty stagnant. Since the implementation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, also known as DACA, immigration law has not provided solutions to those who arrived in adulthood. DACA is on the line due to the recent Supreme Court ruling.

Immigration reform is not only popular amongst activist circles, but also extremely popular amongst voters. The ACLU published a new poll that shows favorable support for immigration reform such as “The Dream Act” and another alternative. 

According to the poll, there is strong support from the public of both of these proposals. For the Dream Act of 2021, which allows undocumented people who came to the country as children and have grown up here to have a pathway to citizenship and protection from deportation, the total percentage in support is 72%, much greater than total percentage of those who oppose (19%). The second question proposes a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, immigrants who work in essential industries, and temporary protected status holders facing violence or natural disasters in their home countries. This second question also sees strong support with 63% in favor, while the total percentage in opposition is 36%. 

With increased support and the passing of the budget resolution, many are optimistic for positive reform. Many hope that any reforms passed are in the best interest of the undocumented community and help them live a more prosperous life in the United States.

NOTE: The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the author only. It is not to be assumed that the opinions are those of GALEO or the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund. For the official position on any issue for GALEO, please contact Jerry Gonzalez, CEO of GALEO at jerry@galeo.org

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Press Release: JERRY GONZALEZ HONORED AS AN INFLUENTIAL LATINO IN GEORGIA

 

 

September 1, 2021

GALEO

Erik Medina

Communications Manager

emedina@galeo.org

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

GEORGIA’S 50 MOST INFLUENTIAL LATINOS RECOGNIZED AND HONORED TODAY

JERRY GONZALEZ INCLUDED IN THE HONORS AS AN INFLUENTIAL LATINO IN GEORGIA

 ATLANTA, GA – On Wednesday, September 1st, 2021, the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce celebrated “The 50 Most influential Latinos” in Georgia who have created an impact on our state of Georgia in 2021.​​ Jerry Gonzalez, the CEO of GALEO and GALEO Impact Fund, was honored for his work and advocacy of the Latinx-Hispanic community and electorate during this year.

Other recipients of the award include Brenda Lopez (Former Board Member of GALEO, Board Member of GALEO Impact Fund), Christopher Perlera (Former Board Member of GALEO Impact Fund),  Deborah Gonzalez (Former Board Member of GALEO), Glianny Fagundo ( Board Member of GALEO Impact Fund), Sofia Marie Bork (GIL Graduate), Maria Vinces Peck (GIL Graduate), Hector Gutierrez (Board Member of GALEO Impact Fund and GIL Graduate), Génesis Castro (GIL Graduate, former intern and canvasser), Jason R. Anvitarte (Former Board Member of GALEO), David Araya (GIL Graduate and Founder of Hope), Angela Hurtado (GIL Graduate and Founder of Hope), Jason Esteves ( Board Member of GALEO and GALEO Impact Fund), Adela Yelton (Board Member of GALEO), John King (keynote speaker at GALEO events and programs), Juan Mejia (Realtor for GALEO and GALEO Impact Fund), Zulma Lopez (keynote speaker at GALEO events and programs), Shirley Ann Smith (Board Member of GALEO Impact Fund) and Yehimi Cambrón (keynote speaker at GALEO events and programs).

“I am very honored to receive this recognition by the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. It is inspiring to see how many other Latinx-Hispanics were honored and the work we are all doing to make sure that the voices of our communities are heard. The fact that so many of the recipients are part of the GALEO and the GALEO Impact Fund family fills me with pride and motivates our organization to keep up the good work,” expressed Jerry González, CEO of GALEO and GALEO Impact Fund after receiving said recognition.

The awards ceremony can be viewed here.

GALEO is a non-profit organization based in Atlanta, Georgia, founded in 2003. GALEO strives for a better Georgia where the Latinx community is engaged civically. GALEO contributions increase civic participation of the Latinx community and develop prominent Latino leaders throughout Georgia.

www.galeo.org – 888.54GALEO

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GALEO CEO Jerry Gonzalez’s Testimony on Redistricting

August 30th, 2021

My name is Jerry Gonzalez, Chief Executive Officer of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (aka GALEO), the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund and the GALEO Impact Fund.  Our organizations are focused on promoting civic engagement and leadership development of the Latinx community in Georgia.  Our promise to our community is to build a better Georgia where our communities are respected and honored for our significant contributions to our state.

GALEO was started in 2003 by then State Senator Sam Zamarripa, State Representative Pedro Marin along with myself as its founding Executive Director.  Our idea was to create a catalyst of engagement of the Latino/Hispanic community in our state to ensure our voices were heard, respected and courted for policy matters that impact our communities directly.

GALEO focused our work to ensure our community is engaged and involved in policy decisions and are active participants in our democracy.  We assist eligible citizens to register to vote, often overcoming language access barriers.  We encourage Latinx voters to turn out to vote in all elections.  Our organization has assisted newly naturalized citizens to register to vote at naturalization ceremonies where we have successfully assisted over 40,000 new Americans with the voter registration process.  We have assisted Legal Permanent Residents with their citizenship applications in order for them to become U.S. citizens and participate further in our communities, including exercising their right to vote.  We have assisted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) apply for their work permits in the years past.  We have encouraged participation of all Latinos in two Census enumerations in both 2010 and 2020.  We have advocated this Legislature in favor of pro-immigrant policy solutions and also advocated against anti-immigrant initiatives.  We even testified during the last redistricting cycle in 2011 against the legislative maps because of intentional dilution of Latino community’s ability to elect candidates of choice, especially in Gainesville where the city was carved up into several districts to avoid minority majority population thresholds.  We have advocated for a federal solution to our broken immigration system and we are supportive of current efforts to ensure some immigration reform relief through the current Congressional Budget reconciliation process.

Under our leadership development efforts, we have graduated over 687 people from our annual and statewide GALEO Institute for Leadership, with our current co-hort of over 25 participants scheduled to graduate in November 2021.  We have partnered with Georgia State University to provide our leadership skills development to Latinx scholars for several years now.  We have conducted several annual Latino Leaders Summit where Latinx community members continue to come together to learn about our policy priorities and how to engage with policy makers, enhance their professional and community organizing skills.  Furthermore, we have also conducted Latino Leadership Series in both English and Spanish in Savannah, Columbus and we are going to Dalton for our next one.  Due to the ongoing pandemic, we do hold many activities via zoom and also stream them on facebook live for greater access to our communities.

Since 2003, the Latino electorate and the Latinx community have clearly grown into the fabric of Georgia and are an integral part of our present and a significant factor for our state’s future.  To begin with, the Latino electorate has grown from just 10,000 Latino voters in 2003 when we were founded, to well over 385,000 voters in our most recent 2020 elections, representing over 4% of Georgia’s electorate.  In the report we recently published, we documented that the Latino electorate grew by over 141,000 voters since the 2016 election alone, demonstrating a 58% growth rate.  The report is significant because we partner with NALEO Educational Fund to conduct a surname match of the electorate, which otherwise would miss over 35% of the total Latinx electorate.  More information is available in the report.  All of you should have received a letter from me on the release of the report and a link to the report was provided for your reference, as well as details about your current Latino voter constituency.  The majority of the Georgia Latino electorate is under the age of 40 and has registered to vote as early as 2020. Also, most of the electorate is female, and Latinas outpaced their male counterparts in voter participation.

The top Metro Atlanta counties also account for a large share of the Latino electorate, and the top ten counties account for 62.3% of the entire Georgia Latino electorate and account for 64.7% of the Latino voter turnout in the 2020 election.

In the top five congressional districts, the Latino vote had a prominent force compared to previous years. Most of the Latino voter density resides in the Metro Atlanta Congressional districts. Latino voters in Congressional Districts #6 and #11 had the highest Latino voter participation rates in the state with 62.4% and 57.9%, respectively. The Georgia Legislative Districts also indicated growth in the total number of Latino registered voters, with the top five districts almost doubling the amount of voter registration and voters of 2016.

On a national level, the Latino vote increased by 6 million voters since the 2016 election cycle, approaching a record number of 18.7 million voters in 2020. Reportedly, one in 10 voters was Latino in 2020. Additionally, younger Latinos ages 18 to 40, with about 2.4 million voters, were first-time and newly registered voters. The Latina vote was vital in many battleground states like Florida, Texas, Arizona, and Georgia.

The US Census Bureau released new population data showcasing the multiracial growth of the United States. In Georgia, there was a growth of 10.57% in the total population compared to the last Census published. Furthermore, the Hispanic community in Georgia grew by 31.6% and accounted for 26.3% of Georgia’s growth.

The Census data release demonstrates the continued growth and strength of the Latinx community in Georgia.  The Census is about power and money.  As the Georgia Legislature begins to draw lines for district maps, communities’ interests should be taken into account.  Legislative and local districts should be drawn to ensure that communities responsible for the growth get their fair share of both power and resources.  As the Georgia Legislature will soon convene for a redistricting special session, we hope you will respect the multi-racial change in our state and ensure appropriate maps are drawn to provide a more representative democracy that reflect Georgia’s growing diversity.

Our communities would also want for greater transparency of the redistricting process.  To date, the legislature has conducted several hearings across the state with significant input from community members demanding the same thing, greater transparency.  We need greater clarity on the process.  We would like to know the timeline of maps being drawn, the timeline of when maps are proposed to when and how community members can assess and possibly submit alternative maps directly to the Georgia Legislature.  Georgians need to have access to the maps and have an understanding of how and when the proposed maps will be presented.  Georgians should also have the ability to substantively comment and raise questions and concerns from legislators in the process.

Will everyday Georgians have access to the reapportionment legislative office or will it be for politicians only?  If so, what would the process be?

What will be the process and timeline for local redistricting efforts?  Will this be done during the special legislative session or during the regular scheduled legislative session in 2022?

These are some questions that deserve answers for Georgians to understand, which would enable Georgians to further engage in our redistricting processes.

Given this legislative’s body passage of the most recent voter suppression law, SB202, there are concerns that the redistricting efforts will also be a form of voter suppression against people of color in our state.  Redistricting maps should meet the core underlying principles and legal protections of the Voting Rights Act.  Our communities are rightly concerned about tactics to undermine communities of color’s ability to elect candidates of choice through packing, cracking and voter dilution.

We do also know from many years of data and analysis that race is a proxy for partisanship, especially in the Deep South.  Because of this, there are strong concerns regarding the declining white population and the increasing communities of color population will lead to intentional discrimination against voters of color through the redistricting process.  Coalition districts of Black, AAPI and Latinx communities should be considered in order to elect candidates of choice for our communities of color.  The values and interests across our communities of color indicate a strong alignment on many issues like education, access to healthcare, pandemic relief, immigration and voting rights issues.

Many Georgians have already expressed their interests for more transparency.

Y tambien muchos de nuestra comunidad les avisaron que era necesario de tener aceso para personas que no hablen ingles.  Y ustedes ignoraron esos demandes de la comunidad.

There has been no effort to make any of this process more accessible to those who do not speak English, even as our Georgia community continues to diversify.

So far, legislators have not provided any feedback or responses of the concerns and questions raised by constituencies across the state with the initial set of redistricting hearings.  There has been no information shared about the process nor timeline.

We all know both the electorate and the Census enumeration indicate a decline of white voters and an increase in voters of color.  Communities of color share similar values and interests and should have a right to elect candidates of their choosing.  This legislative process should respect and honor both the growth of the electorate and population with fair districts drawn to the benefits of the communities that are driving the growth for our state.

Thank you.

 

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