2009 Forbes 400 – Where are the Latinos & African Americans?

I’ve been thinking about the state of Latinos in America a lot after watching CNN and also the response on the websphere. I might get flamed for saying this but I don’t think that CNN did a horrible job with it. Yes, they feature enough success stories although they did show several briefly including Soledad O’Brien, U.S. Senator Mel Martinez, Chef Lorena Garcia, Edward James Olmos, the Puerto Rican female engineer from Disney, the list goes on…

The reaction on the net I noticed was extremely against the series. In fact, one prominent Latino on twitter, created a spot for all Latinos to come post their very own Latino Success Stories, a lot of people were turned off or did not watch it all. I feel rather torn. Yes, it was depressing to watch. Yes, I was brought to tears by the child imprisoned because she was here illegally. Yes, the racist, ignorant comments killed me. One guy said illegal immigrants took jobs away from Blacks, while another woman said Latin masses would be fine if they were in Latin. Where is that place called Latin, my friends?

At the same time, CNN did not distort the facts: There are Latinos doing well and education is a key factor in that and then there are MANY Latinos across the board, from many places, who are not doing so well. Dropping out, teenage pregnancy, gangs, unemployment, dealing with issues like immigration, racism, lack of language skills, huge family responsibilities that are a direct result of our Old World culture clash. I mean these are huge realities and complex issues amongst Latinos in the US.

To ignore them or to paint a rosy picture of Latinos in the US would be a huge disservice to the marginalized, invisible individuals who have no power to make their voices or their plight heard. It’s only through programs like this that these issues are brought to the forefront and into mainstream society and became part of the discourse that hopefully leads to an awareness and then a solution.

If we are so successful why is it that Chef Lorena Garcia can’t get a primetime food show on American TV because of accent or that Daisy Fuentes, who does have one, is slated at 9am on a Saturday, which is no-man’s land for TV shows?

How come our only major success stories, with the exception of Sonia Sotomayor, are all either actors, musicians, or athletes? Where are our scientists, our leaders and thinkers, our movers and shakers, our billionaires? If you can name some and most people I polled can’t… How come they aren’t household names?

You want a dose of reality:

Race/History/Evolutiion Notes took the 2009 Forbes 400 and broke it down by ethnic origins

Here are the results:

His current estimate of the ethnic breakdown:

Northwestern European 52.75%
Jewish 35.25%
Italian 3.5%
East Asian 2%
Middle Eastern 1.5%
Eastern European 1.5%
Greek 1.5%
Indian 1.25%
Hispanic 0.5%
Black 0.25%

That’s not a typo:

Hispanic (2/400)
277 John Arrillaga 1,400 72 Palo Alto real estate [Basque ancestry] (considers himself American)
395 Arte Moreno 970 63 Phoenix lboards [Mexican descent, born in Arizona]

Black (1/400)
141 Oprah Winfrey 2,300 55 Chicago television
His full list is staggering. Go take a look at it and then come back and tell me who is it that is so successful right now…


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