How NCLR Helped Me #WashAwayLabels

By Danny Rico, NCLR Donor Advocate

Last month, the National Council of La Raza partnered with Tide® to #WashAwayLabels that are negatively impacting the Latino community and instead recognize the positive contributions Hispanics bring to the cultural melting pot in the United States.

As part of the campaign, Tide and NCLR produced a video asking Latinos from different nationalities to share their stories about labels or stereotypes, which were then washed away and replaced with a positive word that best described and celebrated their culture.

From all the labels shared, one in particular stood out for me—beaner.

I remember the first time I heard this word like it was just yesterday. I was just eight, our home had just been broken into for the third time that month, and my mom was looking for a new place for us to move. The leasing office assistant came back from speaking with the building manager and said, “No quiere beaners en su apartamento.”

The word began to sink in as I watched the rest of the video, wondering how others would respond if they found themselves in a situation where they were being labeled. And then the answers began to come in:

Over six million individuals responded by watching and engaging with the video, sharing their stories, and joining a community of supporters like NCLR who are committed to washing away labels.

For me, the video and responses gave me an opportunity to once again appreciate the work of NCLR, which has been working to wash away labels and ensure Latinos live safe, healthy, and fulfilling lives for almost 50 years. Such advocacy efforts today help ensure that millions of families like mine will never face housing discrimination again.

So as I reflect on my own story, it brings great joy to stand with NCLR today and join them as I wash away a label that has been staining my life for so long—beaner. To be able to write my own message and say: Los Mexicanos somos todos amigos.

To everyone who has helped us deliver this powerful message, thank you.

Click here to sign up for the latest information about the #WashAwayLabels campaign and how you can help Latinos thrive.

Celebrating the Life and Contributions of NCLR Amigo David Carlson

NCLR and the entire Latino community lost a friend, supporter, guardian, and mentor on the morning of September 23. David B. Carlson played a pivotal professional role as a Ford Foundation program officer in nurturing and supporting the nascent Southwest Council of La Raza and its seven original Affiliates in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Two decades later, we were delighted to welcome him back into the extended NCLR family in a personal capacity as the loving husband of Spanish Speaking Unity Council Executive Director and NCLR Board member Arabella Martinez. Arabella had returned to revitalize the venerable organization she had helped found, bringing it back from the brink of bankruptcy to the enormously successful and indispensable organization it remains today for the residents of the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland, CA.

David Carlson was always about being “both and,” never “either or.” He was both a student of history and a visionary of a future few others could see. He was both a careful steward of the public trust, insisting that his grantees were fully accountable for the foundation investments he oversaw, and a fierce defender of the Latino community’s right to determine its own course. He had both a gentle spirit and genial demeanor, and a steely commitment to social justice.

Five decades ago he foresaw a vision of a vibrant, dynamic community that today is the nation’s largest ethnic minority in what was then a relatively tiny Latino population with few stable institutions. He knew then that diversity is America’s greatest strength—a fundamental idea that regrettably is under assault from new, previously unforeseen quarters. He understood that it was not just possible, but essential for Latinos to be both proud of their heritage and deeply loyal and patriotic Americans. He also knew then that this community would need powerful and effective institutions to advance its interests. Thus, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, he successfully fought to both protect the Southwest Council and its Affiliates from ideological attacks during their critical formative years and insist that they work tirelessly to improve their performance.

It is not at all clear that NCLR or its flagship Affiliates, like the Unity Council, would even exist today but for the dedication of David Carlson; what is clear is that we, and the over 55 million Latinos we represent and serve, are all better off for having had the privilege of working with him. We offer our sincere condolences to his wife Arabella and their families on his passing, but we know they’re comforted by the knowledge that truly, his was a life well-lived.

A Citizenship Day Message from the NCLR Board Chair

Renata Soto is Chair of the NCLR Board of Directors and the Executive Director of NCLR Affiliate Conexión Américas. In 2007, Renata became a U.S. Citizen. This summer at the NCLR Annual Conference, she shared what it means to her to be an American and her journey as a young woman starting a new life in the U.S.:

WebAs the immigrant story goes, I began living in the hyphen: a bi-national existence—living here, visiting there—both physically and spiritually… a bi-cultural marriage, raising two bi-lingual children.

As time went by, no matter how much I loved my job and friends, and how engaged I became in the civic life of my adopted community, I was still from there and just a long-term resident here.

But this was my tipping point: After eight years in Nashville, my husband’s job took us to Knoxville in East Tennessee. We moved. And I felt uprooted. And it was then that I fully understood my deep connection and love for Nashville and its people. And for the first time I called a place— other than Costa Rica—home.

After three years in East Tennessee, I declared myself a Nashvillian and we made our way back to Music City. No hyphens this time. Instead: a comforting feeling of fluidity between my two worlds … not in the sense of a “quaint” multi-ethnic utopia. But more, an openness to fully claim and be all that I am: that I am from here and there; that I speak English during the day and dream in Spanish at night; that I cherish the homeland that gave me birth, and taught me to read and dance … as much as I cherish the adopted country that welcomed me, embraced me, and allowed me to reimagine and define a new self.

That’s the American story: one of new beginnings, of new possibilities, of new frontiers. Whether searching for freedom of religion, or freedom from slavery, or freedom from poverty, it is the story of a people searching, searching to become fully all who they are.

But as any human enterprise, America—the beautiful— is also imperfect and too many among us have yet to find and enjoy that promise. Like the 11 million undocumented immigrants who are integral members of our communities but are waiting to be recognized as such and no longer live an existence in the shadows as second-class citizens. This nation’s expansive laurels are not meant to be rested on. That’s why the collective work of Affiliates matters so much.

As insurmountable as the barriers and injustices we still have to take down appear, I’m inspired, and as I take the role of Board Chair of NCLR, I share with you my renewed understanding of and commitment to what, to me, it means to be an American, a Hispanic American: it’s a disposition, an attitude, a tenet, a duty to fight for and build a community where everyone belongs and everyone can become fully all who they are, empezando con nuestra propia comunidad.

Supporting Latinos by Investing at NCLR

By Ivelisse Fairchild, Vice President of Resource Development, NCLR

Ivelisse Fairchild 2015_smallEven after twenty years in the business, I still get up each morning raring to go to work. I am blessed to have a job that allows me to interact with individuals who want to make difference in the lives of others. How cool is that?

Like many development officers in my age group, I fell into the field because I saw the need to find investments in programs in the community I lived and worked in. In the early 90s, Washington Heights was known as the “crack capital of the world.” It had the highest murder rate in the City of New York the year I entered the field, and lacked the educational, health, economic, and social services that the large immigrant community there needed.

Local community groups tried to address these problems, but many did not have the capacity or the resources to do so. I wanted to find the resources to create opportunities for these new community residents like the ones my mom created for me when she emigrated from the Dominican Republic. I stayed in the field because I realized that I was good at telling our stories, raising money, and building collaborative partnerships with community groups and funders. My whole life my mom had ingrained in me the importance of creating meaningful relationships with people, and fundraising gave me the opportunity to do that while making lasting changes in the community I loved.

I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be. As a Latina, I am proud of the work NCLR does to create opportunities for Hispanics. I am glad that I can share our work with others and find ways for them to invest in our programs.

This is a great time to invest in the Latino community. Latinos are entrepreneurial—the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States—and are already an economic force to reckon with. When you partner with us, you are not just checking off a “social responsibility” box; you are engaging in a movement to make the lives of Latinos more productive, more uplifting, and more successful. We commit to a meaningful partnership as good stewards of your investment, and commit to transparency. When you invest in our work, you join the NCLR familia, whose work has great impact not only on individuals, but also on community-based organizations throughout the country.

When I am not raising funds for NCLR, you can find me teaching Spinning or curled up on my couch or by the pool reading the latest fiction or nonfiction book or writing. My dog, Gracie, is usually by my side and we are disturbed multiple times by my ringing cell phone, mostly from my kids calling to tell me how much they love me. Not really…they’re usually calling because they need money—fundraisers in the making!

Ivelisse Fairchild is Vice President of Resource Development at NCLR. Under her leadership, NCLR is helping maximize the impact of donor investments in the organization. Follow NCLRamigos on Twitter and Facebook to learn more about the impact of our donor community.