Power Tortillas And Other Things You Should Know About UnidosUS

Last week, the National Council of La Raza’s (NCLR) annual conference was in town and during their gala, it was announced that they changed their name to UnidosUS.

Tons of people got their panties in a twist over this, some didn’t care and others don’t even know what the NCLR or UnidosUS is. If you’re in that third category, here are 5 things you must know about this organization and most importantly, how you can play a role in their work.

UNO! UnidosUS, is the largest Latino advocacy organization working to protect civil rights at a local and federal levels. They’re turning 50 next year so maybe the name change is a midlife crisis!

DOS! UnidosUS was founded in La Phoenikera in 1968. Before being the National Council of La Raza, it was the Southwest Council of La Raza and they were actually responsible for the fact that today you can check a box that says “Hispanic” in the U.S. Census. They also played a role in the fact that federal housing loan information is available in Spanish and they currently advocate to prevent the defunding of Planned Parenthood, which serves a very high percentage of Latinas.

TRES! No, they’re not going through a midlife crisis. Luis Avila, a UnidosUS board member from La Phoenikera says they changed their name because Latinx identities are super diverse and complex (no shit!) and many people don’t feel represented by the term “La Raza.” Can you imagine a Boricua or a Tico saying “I’m doing this for la raza!”

CUATRO! As its old name states, the organization is actually a council of 300 affiliates around the country that work to improve the lives of Latinxs by offering critical services or advocating for Latinx issues. UnidosUS helps the affiliates improve their programming and be better advocates. To be an affiliate, organizations must meet 2 out of 3 of the following criteria (and provide a contribution based on their annual budget):

  • Fifty percent or more of the people they serve must be Latinx.
  • Have a board made up of 50 percent or more Latinx members.
  • Be led by a Latinx person.

CINCO! The best way to engage with the work of UnidosUS is to find one of their affiliates and get involved with their local efforts. Here are the affiliate organizations in La Phoenikera:

  • Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce – You know what these guys do.
  • Chicanos Por La Causa – Offers every type of program you can think of, from education to housing, from health to economic development.
  • Community Housing Resources of Arizona – Provides education and financial resources to home-buyers and owners.
  • Friendly House – Has programs ranging from education to workforce development, immigration and drug prevention plus a few more.
  • Hispanic Women’s Corporation – Organizes the Annual Hispanic Women’s Corference as well as other leadership programs and provides student scholarships for future brujas.
  • Promise Arizona – Works to build immigrant and Latinx political power.
  • Valle del Sol – Have you heard of the Hispanic Leadership Institute? Yup, that’s them. They also offer programs around access to health care.

SEIS! (‘Cuz we’re extra)… Health research showed that Latinas were lacking folic acid in their diet, which could potentially cause birth defects. UnidosUS pushed for a national policy that makes masa-makers enrich their product with this vitamin. Now for real…Tacos are life!