As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, this time of year, it’s natural to reflect and share the impact my heritage as a first-generation Cuban American has had on the leadership perspectives throughout this organization and within this industry.
As Chairman of the NAHREP Board of Governors, a shared goal is to help move the needle forward for Latino homeownership, but Latinos are already lighting the way. And for over a decade, they’ve represented over 50% of first-time homeownership in this country. Hispanic American families represent far more achievement for this country, which also goes back to our deep cultural roots.
The true measure of success
I’ve shared a lot of my family stories. Many people already know that both my parents were Cuban immigrants who escaped a fascist regime, and took advantage of the American Gift, so they could provide a better life for my generation and beyond. I talk a lot about my father, how he arrived here, and the values he instilled in me as my personal hero. But I’ve also recently shared the story of how my mother came to live here. And it’s an important story too.
My grandfather was a successful businessman in Cuba before Castro’s reign. To enable my mother to escape the communist regime after his wealth was seized, my grandfather leveraged what he had left to buy tobacco and sugar so he could barter for a ticket to send her on a cruise to Spain, a cruise from which she never returned. Instead, she was able to find freedom, spending 3 years in Spain before getting sponsored by a family in Atlanta and landing in America.
Beyond the business successes and achievements, my grandfather saw in his lifetime, securing freedom for his daughter was an incredible move. But in our culture, it isn’t all that uncommon for families to sacrifice and achieve big things in order to provide a better life for our loved ones.
Our past informs our future
Our greatest success comes when we help the people we love. Many of us come from a background where there’s a reason to be laser-focused on American principles of freedom and controlling your own destiny. Hispanic families are more likely to support their parents and older family members, have been investing in more real estate outside of their primary residence, and have experienced more job growth than any other demographic. And statistically, they are doing more with less in this economy, having the youngest median age than any other demographic, while also having the highest entrepreneurial growth.
I call it the Latino Advantage. It’s who we are in our roots that ensure we do whatever it takes to provide for our family, keep them united, and make sure they prosper. We rely on the kindness of others and make a plan to build something from what we’ve been given. It’s not about stepping on others to get to the top. It’s about recognizing that we will do whatever it takes to provide for our family and support opportunities beyond our own because family comes first.