Strength In Numbers

To gain real economic and social power, you'll need to compete in a world that is drastically changing in size and diversity. here's how.

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The Rev. Al Sharpton found his calling at age four, when he preached his first sermon. Ordained as a minister at age 10, Sharpton has been preaching the gospel of civil rights ever since. More than an activist, he has championed the causes of those victimized by racial profiling, mob justice, and police brutality. In the 1990s, he twice ran for the U.S. Senate, garnering 14% and then 26% of the vote. Head of the National Action Network, a civil rights organization based in New York City, he was instrumental in bringing the Amadou Diallo tragedy to national attention.

George Herrera, President And Ceo, U.S. Hispanic Chamber Of Commerce On The “Browning” Of America
What you’re seeing right now is a transformation of American society that is going
to have an amazing impact on the way that corporate America deals with our communities — not just from a consumer standpoint, but also from a business standpoint. The changing demographics in this country are going to result in the minority community comprising at least 50% of the population in a very short time. The Hispanic community and the African American community need to come together to be able to develop a comprehensive and cohesive national agenda that will result in creating true economic empowerment.

Our leaders must lead the charge in bridging the gap between the African and Latin American communities. They must go to their constituencies and explain to them that the Anglo community — the powers that control the resources in this country — views us all as minorities, not as Hispanics and African Americans. When you sit back and look, you’ll see the economic and social ills that plague our communities: economically, it’s access to capital; access to wealth-accumulation capital; and procurement and business opportunities; socially, it’s access to education and access to health services. Once we come to the realization that our ills are the same, we can sit down and develop a cohesive agenda.

Most of these corporations do business with minorities not because they want to but because they feel that they’re forced to. If the African American and Hispanic communities came together as consumers alone, that’s $800 billion in purchasing power. If we said that we would stand shoulder-to-shoulder, united, that would change the dialogue with corporate America overnight. We need to develop strategic alliances and collaborations with these corporations, resulting in us being a part of the process of bringing corporate America’s products and services to the marketplace.

We must also build political alliances with each other on a community level. For instance, in New York and Los Angeles next year, we’re going to have a tremendous opportunity to elect a minority mayor, in my opinion. In New York alone, that’s nearly 5 million votes. We need one candidate who will represent our communities. We cannot continue to be divided. You must understand the direct correlation political empowerment has to true economic empowerment. And that political strength won’t be given to us. We must take it away.

George Herrera was

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