We spoke with Leandro Ruiz-Fernandez, our grassroots engagement director, about his Hispanic heritage, the challenges facing the Hispanic community in the U.S., and how he sees Hispanics contributing to the country and pursuing their American Dream today. “We are becoming a major cultural and economic powerhouse,” he said.
Why are your proud to be Hispanic?
I am proud to be a Hispanic because it is my culture and identity. It is who I am, and I am happy with who I am.
In your opinion, what does it mean to be Hispanic?
Hispanics share a common background and struggle. Especially those that are here. We share a history of leaving everything behind to find a better life. But we are also a diverse people with different foods, dialects, music, and many more. But it is that common struggle, history, and language that binds us all together.
What are some of the biggest contributions Latinos have made that you are proud of?
The biggest contributions I am proud of are the ones made to the culture and economy of this great nation.
When I turn on the radio there’s a good chance I’ll hear Latino music. When I turn on my TV, I will see Latino actors. Latino culture has become an integral part of American culture. From music to food, we have helped contribute to the culture of this country.
And not just the culture but the economy, too. Latino companies are on the rise and Latinos are some of the most entrepreneurial people in the U.S. We have successfully assimilated into this country and made it our own.
Where do you see the Hispanic community making strides in the U.S. today?
We have made strides in the entertainment and business sectors of the U.S. Spanish words are becoming common lingo among regular Americans and Latino business are expanding across the nation. We are becoming a major cultural and economic powerhouse.
What, in your opinion, are the biggest challenges facing Hispanics in the U.S. today?
I think the biggest challenge Latinos are facing today is an identity crisis. It is something all immigrant communities eventually face. What are we?
When I was younger, I struggled to understand my own identity. I was born in Cuba, but I was raised American, so what was I? It felt like I did not fully fit in. I eventually came to terms with who I am, and I know other Latinos will as well.
How do you see the Hispanic community growing and contributing in the future? Where do you see it continuing to grow?
As mentioned, before we will continue to grow in the entertainment and business sectors. But I think we will also start to grow in politics. We are becoming a very large voting bloc.
This means we are getting more and more of our people elected to office. What is even more incredible is that Latinos are running and winning in areas where we are not a majority.
This is a good sign. It means we are being seen as true Americans, and that we can represent the interests of all Americans not just Latinos.
What’s your favorite part about working for LIBRE?
My favorite part about working with LIBRE is that I get to help the Latino community. I understand that it can be difficult for Latinos to assimilate into this country. It has a different culture and language. As an immigrant myself I also struggled with this. LIBRE is here to help Latinos reach their full potential and I am more than happy to be a part of that.