A Southern California-based effort to develop a political agenda for Latinos launched the first of a nationwide series of town hall meetings Wednesday. Participants spent much of the two-hour event talking about the community's national identity and values rather than political positions and strategies, according to the Orange County Register
“Until there's an identity, it's difficult to move forward with issues," said Glenn Llopis, founder of the event's sponsor, 2012 Hispanic Voice. "There is no conclusion here. This is the beginning of the conversation."
While frustration was expressed about not being better understood and represented in the political arena, it was overshadowed by sentiment that the Latino community needs to become more engaged and politically effective, the Register reported.
"We must enable ourselves," Llopis said to the predominantly Latino audience of 100 gathered at an auditorium at the Orange County Register newspaper, which hosted the event.
"In general, Hispanics would rather play it safe and assimilate," Llopis added. "They believe that their participation within our community limits their own advancement. We need to be more of who we really are."
Luis Ortiz-Franco, a math professor at Chapman University in Orange County, disagreed, saying many strongly maintained and promoted their Latino roots.
The difference of opinion underscored another theme of the town hall: the dilemma of embracing the diversity of the Latino community while trying to develop a unified agenda.
"Politically, we're not respected,” said Jose Moreno of the 33-year-old community group Los Amigos, whose members accounted for about one-third of the audience. “But if we do the work, network, we'll continue to move forward."
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