Getting out of the ‘minority’ box


Grand Rapids Business Journal is reporting on the changes planned by the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, based on expanding membership and the number of business members attaining successful expansions and business growth as large business entities, not just startups and small businesses.

It’s good news for the West Michigan business community as vendors, clients, goods and services expand. Those products and services do not come wrapped in some type of minority packaging; they become part of the general flow of regional business, all predicated on the same colorblind business principles.

As the U.S. Supreme Court vehemently argued the merits of Affirmative Action in regard to educational institutions and general society last week, such growth in the business community offers contrast and welcome reprieve. So, too, does Varnum labor and employment attorney Luis Avila, who begins the New Year as the Hispanic Chamber board president.

Avila told the Business Journal, “The biggest goal is to make sure we take the next step as an organization, not only in quality of value that we’re providing; we want to move beyond being a diversity organization where all we are is a write-off on somebody’s diversity and inclusion budget to being a business necessity.”

The Business Journal applauds Avila’s straightforward observation and his added remark: “(People should) want to do business with the (Hispanic) Chamber of Commerce because it makes business sense, not ‘We want to do business with the Hispanic Chamber because they’re Hispanic and we get to say we did something that’s diverse.”

The Business Journal underscores such principles.

Consider, too, population demographics indicating the growth of minority populations now becoming the majority. Perhaps it offers pause to those business owners or consumers still stuck in the bleakness of a world absent diversity. As the “white” population becomes the minority, the tables are surely turned — not just in the business community but in the general community.

Given the devastating divisions and defamations of the American political landscape, and of society at large, the growth and direction of the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber offers some hope for a future free of boxes — especially those boxes requiring statement of ethnicity.

Recent events prove this is a society not yet able to get past such boxes (perhaps that’s a point for Supreme Court justices to ponder, negating arguments that Affirmative Action is no longer necessary), but the business community can.

As Avila noted, membership in the Hispanic chamber is open to all, not only Hispanic businesses or small businesses. As he also noted, the Hispanic chamber serves “sophisticated businesses.” 

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