Some Latinos I’ve spoken with, welcome the Philadelphia Eagles Football Team’s «End Philly Gun Violence» campaign as another strategy to address the city’s almost daily shootings and murders. But as Latinos, particularly Puerto Ricans, many of whom I had a talk with about this initiative, have asked, «What’s in it for us as a minority community stuck between the formula of Philadelphia’s government funding and services based on White and Black residents of the city?» Modesta Morales, a dark-skinned Puerto Rican woman who she asked, «How is the Puerto Rican/Latino community going to benefit from this?» «How many Latino organizations and agencies are receiving this Eagles’ love? » Her questions remind me of the 1984 Wendy’s commercial, «Where’s the Beef?» Latinos are also concentrated in areas that have high incidents of gun violence and homicides in the city. Many other Latinos I’ve spoken to are suspect that once again, Latinos will be ignored. Evidence supporting this pessimism can be found in the fact that zero organizations serving the minority Latino population are listed as a resource on their listing of services. I would ask, «Where are Latinos figured in this Eagles strategy»?
City leaders and other stakeholders often use demographics and population to make economic and social decisions. With just one look around the areas serviced by the 24th & 25th police districts, it is easy to see the different personalities, cultures, and colors that make up these neighborhoods. One must be blind not to see the number of people who can be identified, according to certain characteristics, as Latinos that scream out, this is a Latino majority area. However, there are Latino organizations that were founded to address the unique needs of this growing population, whose numbers increased in the 2000 census. This Latino population increase prevented a decrease in political representation and federal government funding but was excluded from the resource list disseminated to the public.
Latinos in Philadelphia pay taxes, like everyone else. They also support the Philadelphia Eagles Football team, like everyone else, yet many Latinos are wondering if White and Black lives matter more than Latino lives, who are multi-colored and have a high percentage of shootings and homicides in their slice of Philadelphia.
When it comes to the issue of shootings and murders, Latinos may wonder aloud why they are constantly ignored, and most importantly, why are they treated differently. Sure, there are many Latinos that have progressed in Philadelphia, with the help of education and sponsorship of folks of other backgrounds, but many of these fortunate souls do not reside in those areas of Philadelphia where parents have to bury their children. Many are earning a decent salary with a pension and are accumulating the quarters necessary to receive a nice social security check. «But what about us?», Awilda Perez asks.
As a part of the «old guard» Puerto Rican advocacy movement for the Puerto Rican/Latino rights generation, I often hear from young Puerto Ricans that the City of Philadelphia lacks strong leaders that look out for them. Latinos weren’t considered for membership on City Council’s Committee on Criminal Justice until it was brought to their attention. The number of Latinos in decision-making government positions is few, the number of Latinos employed by the City of Philadelphia is shrinking as more of them retire. The number of Latinos elected to state and municipal offices is not representative of the population, and now the Philadelphia Eagles forget we exist, and our people are getting shot and murdered, like other groups in Philadelphia.
Can some courageous somebody; anybody, call the Philadelphia Eagles and have them contact Congreso de Latinos Unidos, Concilio, Esperanza, Asociación de Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM), Norris Square Civic Alliance, Latino Chamber of Commerce, Juntos, HACE, CEIBA, Aspira, and the National Homicide Justice Alliance to add them to the resource listing and if there is any funding involved include them.