Keeping Diversity, Inclusion in America

Saturday, December 10, 2016, Vol. 9, No. 50

Since I moved to Memphis in 1993, there are several things I’ve learned about this great city. Known for its topnotch barbecue, the 901 is full of kindness, opportunity and, most important to me, diversity.

It is my job as executive director of Latino Memphis, the largest Latino-serving nonprofit in West Tennessee, to make sure the growing Hispanic community has the same opportunities and resources I had when I first moved here. Whether that’s providing educational and career advancement opportunities or assisting with basic needs, such as health care, education and safety, we are committed to advocating for Latino Memphians and continuing to build a vibrant city.

And, as I think about our city’s and country’s future, there’s one more thing that stands out to me – inclusivity. America, for many immigrants, is the land of opportunity, a place where dreams can be realized and families can raise their children without worry. So, when President-elect Donald Trump continued to speak out against immigrants and people of other faiths, I was taken aback. How could the president-elect promise to take away the very quality that helps make America what it is today?

And that is why the 2016 National Immigrant Integration Conference couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ll be joining more than 1,000 immigrant and refugee advocates from across the country in Nashville next week for the ninth annual National Immigrant Integration Conference. Hosted by our partner, the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, the conference will address some of the most pressing issues surrounding the immigrant community.

Speakers include U.S. Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez of Illinois, U.S. Rep.-elect Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Minnesota state Rep. Ilhan Omar, a former refugee and the first Somali-American elected to a U.S. state legislature.

This conference comes at a pivotal time in America’s history. We must continue driving the conversation around issues that affect immigrants’ abilities to contribute and participate fully in America, while preventing policies that target, belittle or intimidate others. Memphis is a city of diversity and inclusion, and we all have a responsibility to ensure we uphold those ideals in the face of challenges ahead.

Mauricio Calvo is the executive director of Latino Memphis.