Thanks to Esther Guzman, Program Manager of the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership, for submitting this post!
We have a fictional hero called el Chapulín Colorado who dresses up like Superman, but does not have super powers. His favorite phrase is, “Y ¿Ahora Quién Podra Defenderme?” to which he answers, “el Chapulín Colorado.” If you have had an opportunity to watch his program you’ll know that he does not depend on super powers to help people, but rather on his instincts, his street smartness and the respect he shows to those he helps.
In our current state of budget cuts, economic challenges and the increase in poverty around the nation, we must ask ourselves the same question with the difference that “el Chapulín” is not going to suddenly appear in the Lehigh Valley (or, for that matter, in Washington DC) to fight for our cause.
As a Latina woman living in the Lehigh Valley, I look at the list of agencies that have a direct impact on our lives (and the lives of our friends and families) and find that, although there are a lot of agencies doing great work in our community, Community Action has had the greatest impact. You may say, “Oh! Great!!! She works for Community Action and of course she will defend them.” Well… numbers prove that Community Action has had the greatest impact fighting poverty and empowering people (you can read more about that here or on our website). I am here to urge my fellow Latinos to write to the President and our representatives in the House and Senate and make your voice heard.
Now that the Obama administration is considering crippling budget cuts to all Community Action Programs we have to stop this “ay bendito” mentality (“oh, poor thing…is someone else’s problem”) and become advocates for Community Action and other agencies that are facing budget cuts. Maybe you have never written a letter to a member of Congress before, maybe you think that you lack the language skills, but let’s stop the excuses. It is as easy as going our Action Center.
Want to make a bigger statement? Write the letters in Spanish, even if they don’t understand them (although I am sure they do, with all the efforts made at the federal government level to hire bilingual staff); the letters will catch their attention.
One of my favorite poems written by the Puerto Rican poet and politician, Jose De Diego, urges us to take a stand on issues.
In Spanish he writes: “…..no has de balar como el cordero triste, sino rugir como la fiera ruge, ¡levántate!, ¡revuélvete! ¡Resiste! Haz como como el toro acorralado, ¡muge! O como el toro que no muge: ¡embiste!”
In English, that’s “…you must not bleat like sheep, but roar, as the beast roars. Resist! Do as the bull at bay: moos! Or like the bull that bellows: lunges!”
Let’s get our letter out there, let’s be the voice for the voiceless, let’s make sure that the Obama Administration knows that we care, that it is not about a few of us, but it is about all of us. Let’s make sure they know that Latinos have power, let’s make sure they understand that we helped this Administration to win the presidential election and that we also have the power to change the outcome of the next election. Let’s make sure they understand that we are NOT a silent minority. Let’s make sure we are respected.