Indiana Assets & Opportunity Network
Increasing Asset Acquisition for Low-Wealth Hoosiers

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A Heritage of Prosperity

It seems like every month has a different designation to raise awareness: for example, September is recognized as Cholesterol Education Month, International Square Dancing Month, National Cheese Month, and National Head Lice Prevention Month, to name a few. However, one awareness "month" near and dear to my heart doesn't span the course of a traditional month, choosing instead to extend from September 15 through October 15: Latinx Heritage Month.

With the name "Logan Charlesworth," I'm typically mistaken for an older Caucasian male rather than recognized as a 20-something half-white, half-Latinx woman. Growing up in a multicultural home, my parents did everything in their power to blend each parents' heritage into every holiday, creating an entirely new and wholly unique tradition for my sister and I to pass down to future generations. Even when I was bullied by fellow classmates in a predominantly white school for "not being white enough," hearing racial slurs on a near-daily basis, or being questioned as to why I didn't look like my mom's side of family whenever they attended school events, I was proud of being part of the tight-knit Latinx community.

However, as I grow older and dig deeper into asset development, I've noted a disturbing trend: Latinx communities are often left behind in vital conversations about assets and opportunity. According to UnidosUS, Latinx people make up 17 percent of the US population, but only possess two percent of the nation's wealth. According to a 2016 Prosperity Now study, the median Latinx family's wealth amounted to $6,400. The median White family's wealth amounted to $140,500. Furthermore, in the Financial Drain report recently released by the Network and the Indiana Institute for Working Families, we now know that predatory lenders typically set up shop in neighborhoods that are predominantly Black and/or Latinx. 

To be frank, I'm outraged and hurt by all of this information. Latinx populations play a vital role in keeping our nation on track economically. According to a 2017 New American Economy studybusinesses with a majority Latinx ownership provided almost 2.7 million American jobs. Additionally, Latinx families contributed nearly $215 billion in tax revenue. Beyond economics and finances, we also add to the rich cultural fabric of this nation and state through language, music and art, food, and more.

Given these economic and cultural contributions to our communities, it's important -- and I would argue vital -- to have Latinx voices at the table when discussing and advancing asset development strategies. 

Together, we can close these inexcusable economic gaps and ensure the Latinx heritage is one of prosperity and inclusive growth.

Kathleen Taylor