The Afro-Latino Connection

The most recent census reported that of 38.8 million Hispanics in the United States, 1.7 million identify themselves as both Hispanic and African in origin. Many believe this number could be higher, closer to 3.9 million. Historically, attempts by Latinos and African Americans to forge economic, political, and social alliances have yielded lackluster results. "Afro-Latinos, many of whom feel comfortable in both communities, could be the key to a much needed business and political link between America's largest minority groups," reports Features Editor Alan Hughes in the BLACK ENTERPRISE February feature "The Afro-Latino Connection." Hughes reports the merits of bringing these groups together from a business standpoint are considerable. "If we were to combine the African American and Hispanic community, it means a purchasing power block of $1 trillion dollars," says George Herrera, former president and CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. "That kind of strength can basically make industry come to a standstill. Power within our communities lays in our discretionary purchasing with corporate America, to be able to change the corporate landscape, and change the dialogue of how corporate America deals with our communities." As Afro-Latinos embrace both sides of their heritage, they may provide the bridge to connect both communities.