Ringo Chiu/ZUMA Wire/Alamy Live News
En español | America is made great by the fact that we are a diverse multiracial, multicultural country built by people that come from all across the globe. We should value that diversity.
I very much identify as a Latina. My four grandparents were born and raised in Mexico, but my experience growing up here as a third-generation Latina is very different from theirs. That’s important because identity, as it evolves over time, is really a defining characteristic of who we are as a community.
My culture, language and heritage are all contributors to my success. But, on the other hand, I was born and raised here, and I’m an American in the full sense of the word.
This is a country that has tremendous potential and has provided opportunity for generations. It is clearly the place where people can succeed in ways they are unable to elsewhere. Yet, we're not entirely true to the promise of America. There isn't equal opportunity for all communities, and we need to remove the barriers that inhibit their success. That is the America that we all dream of, but it requires intentionality. It doesn't happen by itself.
It became clear to me, about two decades ago, that many issues inhibit the Latino community’s ability to progress or optimize their potential, and education is the gateway. So I decided, at this stage of my career, to dedicate myself 100 percent to education and accepted a position to lead the College Futures Foundation, which focuses on college access and success for low-income, underrepresented students of color in California. Right now, one out of every two California youths is Latino. They will be the workforce of tomorrow, and we need to make sure they’re well educated.
The focus on illegal immigration — while we care about our undocumented community — is a factual misrepresentation of who we are and what our issues are.
We need to start to change the narrative so that people understand that Latinos have the highest labor force participation rate of any community in the country and the fastest rate of growth of small-business entrepreneurship in the country. We are here to contribute, to provide for our families and to create businesses that fuel the economy.
During the 30 years I spent in media, working and leading La Opinión, I was proud we reported stories of individuals who are doing great things and about our community in a way that was more holistic, realistic and accurate in a way that doesn't get covered in mainstream media.
I wish we had greater representation in English-language media. We need decision makers who really understand the Latino reality and are able to translate that through the content they distribute. I believe we are obligated to continue to find ways in which we can elevate our voice and present a more accurate representation.
That’s why I invested in BeSe, an English video and digital media startup, created by actress Zoe Saldana and launched this year, focused on the millennial generation. It's precisely the kind of storytelling that we need to begin to change our narrative.
—As told to Verónica Villafañe
Following in the footsteps of her grandfather, who founded the formidable newspaper La Opinión, Monica Lozano made her own mark in journalism. As an editor, she was among the first to cover topics such as AIDS, infant deaths and the need to improve care for expectant mothers. As chairman of the board of US Hispanic Media Inc. and CEO of ImpreMedia, she revolutionized the landscape for bilingual readers, betting big on readership in local and digital communities. A passionate advocate of education, she has served on the California State Board of Education and the University of Southern California board of trustees. She is also president and CEO of the College Futures Foundation.