Last Tuesday, Adams met with the Coalition of Latin American Consults in New York (CLAC-NY), a group that represents 18 nations from the Caribbean, Central and South America. Sitting next to Carlos Castillo, president of the association, Adams signed an agreement to collaborate on business, cultural and economic matters with CLAC-NY.
“We will use our skill set to build a better connection with your countries,” he said.
CLAC-NY represents more than 3.5 million Latin Americans who live in New York. Nearly 500,000 live in Brooklyn, said Castillo, who is also the consul general of the Dominican Republic.
“With this agreement, the borough of Brooklyn becomes a partner and a friend of the Latin American community,” Castillo said. “We will jointly fight disinformation and channel resources together to help our communities.”
The borough president noted that 47 percent of Brooklynites speak a language other than English at home. For many households, the children assist their immigrant parents navigate government, forms, and other important matters.
Years ago, immigrants used to have settlement houses that helped them transition to American life, Adams said. Today, that responsibility falls on community organizations and consulate offices.
Highlighting the borough’s diversity, Adams spoke about the importance of cultural identity.
“It’s the hyphen that makes us special: African-American, Peruvian-American, Japanese-American,” he said. “It is the idea of all of our countries coming together to create a symbiotic relationship and energy that makes this country great.”
Adams said especially with the current presidential administration in Washington, he doesn’t want CLAC-NY’s constituency to think they don’t have a place in the American dream.
“Our ability to interact with each other cannot take a step backwards because people on the national level just don’t get it,” he said. “We get it here in Brooklyn.”
Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna, the first woman of Dominican descent elected to office in New York, said every culture contributes to the “rich diversity” of New York City.
“Brooklyn is a great melting pot of different cultures,” she said. “Today, we’re strengthening our bonds with the aim of spreading our culture to connect future generations to their roots in this borough.
“We have to understand that your diplomacy internationally means nothing to the New Yorker here if they have no connection with you,” Reyna added. “Our office will build that bridge to work hand-in-hand with each of your offices, making certain that what we want to bring to our Latino brothers and sisters are not left on the table.”