The Importance of Latinx Representation and the Los Angeles Hispanic PR Association
By Bella Mendoza
In California, Latino/as make up roughly 40% of the population, with even a bigger number in Los Angeles. However, despite this, there is still a huge gap in terms of representation. Only 5% of physicians and 6% of licensed attorneys in California identify themselves as Latinos. This percentage translates to almost every professional industry. Most often, Latinos obtain labor intensive jobs such as construction, farm picking, and maintenance. There is a severe lack of Latinx representation in the United States, especially with the huge percentage they make up within our population. The only way to change this is to encourage individuals to apply their interests into their careers and ensure they have mentors that share their experience and upbringing. By doing this and having real life representation, Latinos can obtain more opportunities to have professional careers and create a network of people that can guide them in the right direction.
Throughout my time in my relatively new professional career and higher learning, I have learned about the importance of representation. This is not only important in our political sphere, entertainment, and schools, but also in all professional careers, ranging from the healthcare sector, tech industries, academic institutions, and business corporations. Growing up seeing people who look like you doing the jobs you have always dreamed of can be live changing. I was lucky enough to grow up surrounded by Latinx professionals who guided me in every path in life. However, not everyone can be as fortunate as I was. My mom moved to the United States when she was in elementary school, and had little to no guidance in her higher education and professional career, leaving her to figure out everything on her own. She now serves as a mentor to others, helping them navigate their professional careers. Hearing her stories of struggle in her industry has led me to seek mentors in my own industry.
I recently had the opportunity to join the Hispanic PR Association Los Angeles (HPRA-LA) to continue to encourage individuals to get into the PR industry and to follow their passion wherever it leads them. Late last year, I had the opportunity to attend the HPRA-LA Scholarship Breakfast where I was able to meet and hear from individuals that this association has helped and where it has led them in their career. I talked to a number of different people, ranging from those still in school to those who have their own offices and practices. It was enlightening to obtain their perspective of the industry and see the resemblance their background had with mine. This breakfast opened my eyes and helped me understand the lack of representation in the PR industry and the difficulties that may occur when one lacks mentorship. Along with creating more Latinx representation in the industry, HPRA-LA is dedicated to giving back to the Latinx community and inspiring those around them to seek out their passions and make a career out of them. I am excited for this opportunity and hope to gain valuable experiences from learning from others in the industry.