A summary of reflections from the 2020-2021 annual member survey on social justice and other issues affecting the nation.
2020 was perhaps one of the most memorable years of our lifetimes. Although the Covid-19 pandemic took center stage for most of the year, it is also important to note all of the changes related to social justice and activism. The weeks following the tragic death of George Floyd created a massive surge in activism related to racism and the future of gender equality in our nation. We also witnessed one of the most historic and contentious elections in our nation’s history. Because these events had such a profound impact on society, we felt it was important to ask our members how they felt about these issues and our country’s future as part of the 2020-2021 Alumni Society member survey.
An overwhelming majority of our members felt that positive strides had been made related to social justice which generated much-needed awareness and activity. Several members noted the admirable examples set by corporations such as Nike, which publicly took a stand in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and committed $40 million over the next four years to support Black communities in the U.S. Many were pleased by the awareness generated by the peaceful protests and social media and the visibility it created related to challenges Latino/x and women of color confront daily. Others were hopeful that these events could lead policymakers to “make fundamental changes to improve education, healthcare, and voting rights.” There were also comments related to the challenges with discrimination amongst Latinos, particularly regarding “the poor and uneducated” and the need to be more empathetic and inclusive.
Long Way to Go
Although significant strides in awareness and action had been achieved, most members felt that we still have a very long way to go towards justice and equality. In fact, over 90% of members surveyed firmly believed that there needs to be more done on a local, national, and federal level to address social justice. One member commented that “the numbers speak for themselves,” noting that people of color on executive teams, corporate directors, and investors remain significantly underrepresented. Another noted that “while many people are aware of issues, there is a lot of systematic racism that goes on without people noticing.”
There were also several responses recognizing the gaps in social justice that Latinos/x continue to face. Many commented on how slow this movement is materializing in our communities and the need for Latino/x leaders to be more vocal and have more substantial, more unifying messaging. Others expressed frustration with the current social policies in place, noting that “no public mobilization is sustaining changes to policing, limited advances in criminal justice, no progress on affirmative action.” And some felt that the current social justice movements were too “radicalized” noting, that they “repeated the same message, placing excessive emphasis on race, where it should not be a factor at all.”
Optimism for the Future
The final months of 2020 also had us focused on our national elections. One could argue that it was one of the most controversial elections in history because it took place during the pandemic, which placed a great emphasis on mail-in voting and safety at the ballot box. Regardless of these challenges, we had a record turn out with two-thirds of the eligible population casting a ballot. Ultimately, Joe Biden was successfully elected as our 46th President, ushering in a new political era to the White House and the nation. Given the importance of these events, we were also able to obtain feedback from several Alumni Society members about the election, and the overall direction our country is headed in.
About 47% of our members believed that our country was headed in the right direction compared to 15% who felt we were not. About 18% thought that the country would remain the same. Of those feeling optimistic about the future, many noted the election of Joe Biden as a reason, one stating, “There is hope now,” and another claiming, “We have a new leader who will actually be accountable.” Adding to this comment, several members expressed displeasure with the former Trump administration. One survey respondent noted, “Better now, but the damage done has been tremendous.”
Of those who felt that things would remain the same, the general sentiment was more cautious. One respondent expressing this sentiment wrote, “There are so many institutional and currently manipulated obstacles. I am concerned that expectations cannot be met in the near future…”
In summary, I believe these heartfelt responses from The Alumni Society’s members help demonstrate the passion and commitment they have to social and civic issues. One of the main reasons is that members enjoy engaging with one another and why they are so passionate about our events and gatherings. These shared passions, opinions, and diverse experiences and the platforms and channels to facilitate this make The Alumni society unique.
– Sergio Fernández, Advisory Board Member, The Alumni Society
Written in April 2021 for The Alumni Society. Members are encouraged to take the 2021-2022 Annual Member Survey here.