By Anna Gustafson
Though Latinos and Latinas represent more than 13 percent of the country’s population, a number expected to grow to 29 percent by 2050, City University of New York Law professor Jenny Rivera said they continue to be targets for such acts of discrimination as hate crimes or negative profiling by police.
Whether in the workplace or in federal legislation, Latinos and Latinas are marginalized, Rivera said, and she wants to change that with a new center at the CUNY School of Law in Flushing.
Rivera and several of her CUNY colleagues launched the Center on Latino and Latina Rights and Equality, otherwise known as CLORE, at the end of October. The center, Rivera explained, is an academic institution that combines community service and educational activities to improve the quality of legal care provided to Latinos and Latinas.
Addressing issues for the Latino community is especially important in Queens, where Latinos make up more than 26 percent of the population, according to the 2000 U.S. Census.Issues CLORE will address span the gamut from language and women’s rights to employment discrimination and immigration.
“The issues critical to the Latino community are the economy and immigration rights,” said Rivera, the center’s director. “The issues are equal access to the justice system and equality under the law.”
The center, which will seek input from everyone from lawyers to community advocates, will host events, sponsor forums and create courses that explore issues affecting the Latino community. In November, the center will host events focusing on healthâˆ’related topics.
At 11 a.m. this Friday, a CUNY professor, Nicholas Freudenberg, will discuss the role of communityâˆ’based organizations in improving health outcomes in Latino communities and set a national Latino health agenda.
The center will also sponsor a panel next Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. that will highlight health issues in Latino communities and how lawyers can shape food policies that benefit Latinos.
During the Nov. 13 panel, Rivera said she will show a screening of “Bodega Down Bronx,” a documentary created by high school students and the Center for Urban Pedagogy that explores how the corner grocery stores shape eating habits and dietary choices.
“One of the things we will be talking about is the city’s green carts initiative, which brought food carts with fresh produce to certain sections of [the] boroughs where communities may not have had access to fresh produce,” Rivera said. “We will discuss the legal issues that make things like that possible.”
The center is especially needed now, according to Cesar A. Perales, president and general counsel of Latino Justiceâ„PRLDEF, formerly the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund in New York.
“Too many of us in the law see the civil rights struggle as something in the past,” Perales said in a prepared statement. “The fact is the Latino community is facing its own set of civil rights issues that need the attention of a center such as this one now.”
For more information, visit www.law.cuny.eduâ„clinicsâ„JusticeInitiativesâ„clore.html.