Saturday, September 14, 2002

Latina urges bridge building

'Be agents of change,' she tells women

By Shauna Scott Rhone,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Women in the workplace have more power than they realize, says Sandra Guzman, keynote speaker Friday at the Black Career Women's National Diversity Forum downtown.

        “We are sometimes active participants in keeping barriers up and limiting us to be our personal and professional best,” said the Puerto Rican-born former editor-in-chief of Latina magazine and author of The Latina Bible (Three Rivers Press, $14), a book on the culture of the Latin-American woman.

        She challenged the forum's 400 attendees to celebrate the diversity of cultures in America and learn more about Latino culture.

        “Thirty percent of Latinos in this country have English as their first language,” she said. “Some people automatically think because there are Latinos, everything has to be in Spanish. Our parents didn't want us to be discriminated against so we learned English.”

        Mentioning the Cincinnati boycott, Ms. Guzman said Americans have the reputation of talking a lot, “but not about the issues that matter. We don't talk about race and culture. Cincinnati has the power to show the rest of the country how to bring about racial solutions.”

        Ms. Guzman challenged the predominantly female audience to be “bridge builders. Take the opportunity to educate each other” about other cultures. She also called on women “to be agents of change. Look at your own prejudices and internal oppression” and work to make a difference in their homes and community.

        “Watch a Spanish novella on television,” she said. “Listen to, dance to Latin music. Cook and embrace the wide variety of Latin food.

        “We date back to the 15th century, way before Jennifer Lopez and Ricky Martin.”

        The two-day forum concluded Friday at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.


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