Today's news gets right to heart of an uncomfortable topic: Hispanic children, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, are now the largest group of children in poverty in the U.S. - not by percentage, but by pure numbers. Some 6.1 million Hispanic children are in poverty, compared to 5 million white children and 4.4 million black children. Hispanics, according to the Washington Post, have been hit harder by the recession than any other group.
What's uncomfortable about this - aside from the obvious and harsh fact that millions of innocent children, of all races, are suffering in some way due to their families' economic status - is that it forces us once again to examine our own feelings about race and immigration.
If you are non-Hispanic, what do you think of this imbalanced effect of a dreary economy? It is an acceptable byproduct of legions of Hispanic immigrants trying to build a life in the land of opportunity at a decidedly inopportune time? Or should we - individually and as communities - use this as a catalyst to seek ways to help Hispanic families that are struggling, not only economically but culturally, socially and emotionally?
Poverty tends to beget a host of other problems, starting with self esteem and often continuing with family cohesion, substance abuse, domestic abuse and overall health. Compounding matters, state and local budget cuts are eroding the programs - vocational, educational, family support and even recreational - that many immigrants rely on.
By volunteering with Hispanics in your community you could help steer a family toward the light at the end of the tunnel or perhaps just give a child a needed moment of laughter, security or attention that might be missing in his or her household right now.