by Dr. Gratzia Villarroel, Associate Professor of Political Science St. Norbert College and Envision board member
*In this article we use the gender-neutral Latinx next to the term Hispanic to acknowledge the growing use of this term by younger, US-born, bilingual, or predominantly English-speaking Hispanics, who are also likely to be more progressive and college-educated. Latinx has received criticisms from all sides of the political spectrum and is still only used by a small percentage of the Hispanic population. The more common names are either Hispanic which typically includes Spaniards as it is based on the use of the Spanish language and Latino which typically refers to people from Latin America.
In 2019 at Paul Demuth’s suggestions, I had the opportunity to participate in Garry Golden’s Foresight Analysis Workshop sponsored by the Bay Area Community Council (today Envision Greater Green Bay). The workshop was instrumental in redefining how I viewed the experience of the Latinx/Hispanic population in Northeast Wisconsin. While I already knew that the population was growing and that education was important, after completing the workshop, I realized just how important educational attainment is not just for Latinx/Hispanics but for Northeast Wisconsin and the nation.
In this article, I discuss the growing Latinx Hispanic experience nationally and in Northeast Wisconsin by identifying current and future trends in the overall experiences of this population. The broader purpose of this study was to identify problems and opportunities that might mitigate continued and exacerbated inequalities. The more specific purpose was to acquire the tools needed to train the Board of Directors of Casa ALBA Melanie, the Hispanic Resource Center of the Greater Green Bay Area so that together we could define our alternative futures for the organization, develop steps to walk towards the preferred future, and acquire the ability to continuously reassess in the process. Key elements in Foresight Analysis include defining the domain, engaging in horizon scanning, STEEP analysis, identifying signals and change drivers, and developing future scenarios by looking at data elements as signals (innovations or disruptions that impact an issue).
My findings at the time have only been strengthened by what I have seen develop in the last two years, especially living through the COVID-19 pandemic.
- In order to be effective in addressing the needs of the Latinx/Hispanic population, it is important to recognize the diversity within this population as different groups will require different strategies. However, given that the Latinx/Hispanic is primarily composed of Mexican-Americans (62%) and Puerto Ricans (9.6%) it is important to recognize that the needs of these two sectors need to be addressed in order to be effective.
- Although it is a common understanding that the Latinx/Hispanic population is growing, it is the rate of growth that is more important than the growth itself. Any changes have to be made sooner than expected.
- The changing societal factors of the Latin population (place of birth, language, age clusters, etc.), play an important role in what types of changes will be necessary.
- The last two years have demonstrated that current employment sectors of Latinx/Hispanics make them particularly vulnerable to all the negative impacts of global pandemics and automation.
- Without educational attainment not only will it be very difficult for a majority of Latinx/Hispanics to improve their quality of life, but foresight signals indicate that they will actually be worse off if everything stays the same.
- Given the rate of growth of the Latinx/Hispanic population, the vulnerable nature of this population requires the commitment of multiple organizations (both non-Latinx/Hispanic and Latinx Hispanic) in Northeast Wisconsin.
- The resilience and work ethic and positive nature of the Latinx/Hispanics bodes well for our community. As our communities become majority/minority communities, the success of Latinx/Hispanics is tied to the success of Northeast Wisconsin.
(For the full text of the “A Growing Energy In Northeast Wisconsin: Latinx/Hispanic Youth On The Horizon,” click here.)