The Latino Community in Multnomah County: An Unsettling Profile

2014 CCC Profiles - Latino Report.jpg
2014 CCC Profiles - Latino Report.jpg

The Latino Community in Multnomah County: An Unsettling Profile

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Latinos have a long, rich history as residents of Multnomah county1 that dates back to the 1500s, with the first wave of our immigration beginning in the early 1800s. Our heritage in this region predates White settler society. We are a resilient community who has survived a legacy of discrimination, marginalization and exploitation to become a critical, driving economic force in Multnomah county and the state of Oregon. Our labor has long been the backbone of U.S. agricultural productivity and the service industry from which elites and industry in the state and region have greatly benefitted.

Today we number 80,138 people, and officially comprise 10.9% of the population of Multnomah county. The largest of our communities of color, we are an impressive, dynamic presence in the urban landscape that has evolved into a multi-ethnic, multi-generational community, yet we continue to face institutional barriers that prevent proportional representation in government, private sector and educational advancement. We seek more full inclusion as civically and economically contributing citizens and residents entitled to the fundamental right of a better future and opportunity to advance our community. Our community organizations are well respected, our community leaders sought-after as advisors to many policy makers, and our cultures widely affirmed for their vibrancy and vitality.

While our growth continues to flourish, our community continues to experience systemic barriers to advancement: for example, intolerable levels of poverty, low income, occupational segregation, inadequate education, low homeownership rates, and specific health access and insurance challenges which continue to hinder our wealth, education and occupational advancement. Couple this with institutions that serve us poorly, target us based on perceived legal status, and over-administer discipline and loss of freedoms (such as juvenile and adult corrections, immigration and child welfare), and we have the “perfect storm” that continues to perpetuate systems of inequality which prevent us from participating fully in society.

Our report, “The Latino Community in Multnomah County: An Unsettling Profile” uncovers an array of racial inequities across the systems of income, employment, education, juvenile justice, corrections, child welfare, philanthropic giving, housing, immigration, research practices (particularly population measurement), wealth, health, health insurance coverage, racial harassment, public service and voter registration. These systems maintain our second-class status and serve to limit our current well being and the prospects for a bright future for our children.