Pop Culture

Geraldo on Hispanics’ new era of prosperity

In his new book “The Great Progression: How Hispanics Will Lead America to a New Era of Prosperity,”award-winning journalist Geraldo Rivera details the evolving role of Hispanics in shapingevery facet of American culture. Read an excerpt on how the Hispanic community has socially, economically and politically impacted our future.

Introduction
For the first time in modern world history a powerful nation is changing complexion right before the eyes of its citizens. In real time it is possible to watch America become more culturally diverse, its face physically darker. The United States has vastly more Latinos than it did just a relatively few years ago, and their numbers are increasing at an explosive rate, on average almost four thousand per day.

This book is about what that dramatic trend means for the country.

Aided by the vast oceans that separate the United States from the planet’s densest population centers, and by America’s early instincts toward isolation, for most of the twentieth century our nation managed to exclude most Asians, Africans, and Latinos. With passionate vigilance and a largely race-based immigration policy, the country remained overwhelmingly white and Anglo for the first two and a half centuries of its existence.

The relaxation of that restrictive policy in the 1960s civil rights era resulted in a tsunami of Latino migration, which, when coupled with an explosive domestic birth rate, inflated the U.S. Hispanic population to a size almost ten times bigger than it was just fifty years ago, in both absolute and relative terms. In 1950, there were 5 million Latinos. Today, there are more than 46 million. And the recent downturn in illegal immigration due to the lack of good construction jobs in our faltering economy will only marginally slow the pace. During that half-century, Asian and African-American populations also increased, but by not nearly as impressive a rate as that of Hispanics.

A library of scary books and an almost infinite galaxy of anti-immigration opinion pieces warn of how the inexorably increasing numbers of Latinos in the United States are or will soon be overwhelming the existing social order and making America a fundamentally different nation from the one contemplated by the fifty-six signatories of the Declaration of Independence, who were all white Anglos (and only one of whom, Charles Carroll of Maryland, was even Catholic, a then still exotic religion in the thirteen original colonies).

By fundamentally different, I mean a nation other than the industrious, God-fearing, ethical, family-valued, disciplined, self-governing and moral New World colossus the Founding Fathers contemplated.  Those fears are widespread, and whether you think them justified or overblown, it is undeniable that the phenomenal Latino population surge in the United States since those revolutionary days is stunning and irreversible.

The percentage of Latinos in the United States population stands at 15.4 percent, which in April 2009 amounted to about 46.7 million people, if not yet strong, getting stronger politically, culturally and economically. Despite the dramatic decrease, even reversal, in recent immigration caused by the collapsing U.S. economy, by the time you read this that 46.7 million figure will already be an understatement of a rapidly expanding demographic, which grew more than 3 percent in the single year between July 2006 and July 2007, and more than doubled just since 1990. Hispanics for the first time outnumber non-Hispanic whites in Dallas, Texas. They are 37 percent of the population of Houston and over 28 percent of the population of Chicago, Illinois.

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    Headshot of Ritchie Valens

    Latin Stars

    From Enrique and Ricky to Shakira and J.Lo , here’s a look at pop music’s spicy and sexy Latin invasion.

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    Where it all began -

    Ritchie Valens was regarded as the father of the Spanish rock 'n' roll movement. His song "La Bamba" was one of the first Latin rock songs to become a hit. On February 3, 1959 (also known as "The Day the Music Died"), Valens was killed in a plane crash in Iowa, along with musicians Buddy Holly and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson.

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    Menudo, a Latino boy band that was formed in the 1970s, was the starting point for former members like Ricky Martin and Robi Draco Rosa. The band underwent several changes over the decades, and was revived with five new members in November 2007. Menudo's 1987 members included (left to right): Ralphie Rodriguez, Ricky Martin, Ruben Gomez, Sergio Gonzales, Ramone Acevedo and Charlie Masso.

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    A slain singer -

    Selena Perez Quintanilla, known simply as Selena, was a Grammy-winning Mexican-American singer. Called the "The Queen of Tejano Music," she was murdered at the age of 23 on March 31, 1995, by the president of her fan club. In 1997, Jennifer Lopez played Selena in a film about the singer's life.

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    Cuban-American singer and songwriter Gloria Estefan is one of the most successful crossover Latin music performers to date. The "Queen of Latin Pop" has won five Grammy Awards, and she and her group, Miami Sound Machine, recorded hits like "Conga," "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You" and "1-2-3." Her most recent-offering, 2007's Spanish-language album "90 Millas," was a chart-topper that year.

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  • Carlos Santana

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    Guitar hero -

    Carlos Augusto Alves Santana is a Grammy Award-winning Mexican rock musician and guitarist. His band, Santana -- which blended salsa, rock, blues and jazz -- was popular in the 1960s and 1970s, although the group enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in the late 1990s. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine named Santana No. 15 on its list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

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    Such a gentleman -

    The quintessential Latin gentleman, Julio Iglesias was the most popular Latin singer of the 1970s and 1980s, and has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide. The romantic crooner even recorded in Spanish, English, French and Italian. In his pre-performer days, Iglesias did a stint as a goalkeeper for soccer team Real Madrid, and he also studied law at Cambridge University. He is the father of musician Enrique Iglesias.

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    Jennifer Lopez, also known as "J. Lo," is an actress, singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, fashion designer and television producer. Of Puerto Rican descent, J. Lo is one of the most influential Hispanic entertainers in America. She has released seven albums since 1999, and has starred in acclaimed films such as "Selena," "Out of Sight" and "Angel Eyes." After high-profile romances with Ojani Noa, Cris Judd, Sean Combs and Ben Affleck, Lopez is now married to singer Marc Anthony.

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    RBD is a Mexican teen pop group made up of three boys and three girls who started off as the cast of a prime-time telenovela, "Rebelde." The Latin Grammy-nominated grop has recorded in Spanish, English and Portuguese, and have toured extensively.

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    Part Ecuadorian and part Irish, Christina Aguilera achieved success in the teen pop revival of the late 1990s. She released three English studio albums and one Latin pop record, despite the fact that she doesn't speak Spanish. Known for her powerful vocal ability, Aguilera has won five Grammy Awards amongst 18 nominations.

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    Timeless Thalia -

    Thalia (born Ariadna Thalia Sodi Miranda) is a Latin Grammy-winning Mexican singer, and is also one of Mexico's most famous telenovela actresses. She was never able to successfully cross over into the U.S. market with Engligh-language versions of her music, however. She is married to music industry bigwig (and Mariah Carey's ex) Tommy Mottola, which has kept her in the celebrity spotlight.

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    'Livin' la Vida Loca' -

    Puerto Rican pop singer Ricky Martin started off as a member of Latin boy band Menudo, and went for a solo career in 1991. The Grammy Award- and Latin Grammy Award-winning entertainer also pursued an acting career, appearing in the American soap opera "General Hospital," and also working as a stage actor. His first English-language pop album (released in 1999) spawned singles like "Livin' la Vida Loca" and "She's All I Ever Had," launching Martin to international superstardom.

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    Hot salsa! -

    Grammy Award winner Marc Anthony, the biggest-selling salsa artist of all time, achieved mainstream crossover success in 1999 with Billboard hit "I Need to Know." He is married to Jennifer Lopez, who like him, is an American of Puerto Rican descent. The multi-talented artist also acted in films, including the 1995 cult classic "Hackers" and Martin Scorsese's 1999 film "Bringing Out the Dead."

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    Shakira shakes it -

    Colombian pop singer Shakira is also a songwriter, instrumentalist, record producer, dancer and philanthropist. In 2001, she broke into the English-speaking world with the release of "Laundry Service." She has won two Grammy Awards, seven Latin Grammy Awards, and is also a Golden Globe-nominated artist. She is known for her rock-influenced sound, poetic lyrics and her signature belly-dance moves.

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    One of the biggest-selling Spanish musicians of all time, Enrique Iglesias is the son of singer Julio Iglesias. His first album, "Enrique Iglesias" (1995), has to date sold more than six million copies worldwide. He won the 1996 Grammy for Best Latin Performer, and subsequently released both Spanish- and English-language albums to widespread acclaim.

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Similarly, when the Census Bureau announced in March 2009 that New York City had reached a record 8,363,710 people, the bureau revealed that 28 percent were Hispanic, 2,341,839, up 27,000 between July 2007 and July 2008, and most of them native-born. The Latino populations of New York City (2.3 million) and Los Angeles (1.86 million) both outnumber the entire population of Barcelona, Spain, which has just 1.6 million residents. As Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, a professor of globalization and education at New York University, said when the population of the United States hit the breathtaking 300 million mark on October 17, 2006, that 300 millionth American was probably born in Los Angeles and was probably the daughter of Mexicans. “Probably, her name is Maria .... She is the future of America. She is a child of an immigrant. She is a U.S. citizen like you and me.”

In political terms, what makes that historic 15.4 percent statistic even more impressive is that it is comprised mostly of native-born Hispanics, citizens born in the U.S.A., not immigrants either legal or illegal. That is the most potentially profound political development since the silent majority.

As Rosario Dawson reminded us during the Inaugural Gala, as an ethnic group, Latinos are already second in size behind only non-Hispanic American whites. And the percentage of Hispanics is growing by twice their rate and almost that much faster than American blacks whom they supplanted as the nation’s largest minority, far ahead of the date predicted by the social scientists of the 1960s.

The states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington all have at least a half million Hispanic residents.

If current trends hold, 25 percent of the U.S. population will be Hispanic by 2040, and by the end of the twenty-first century, the United States will be a majority-Hispanic country. Put another way, there are people alive today who will be around to watch America take its place as the world’s largest Hispanic country by population. Perhaps more surprisingly, it is already number two behind just Mexico and already ahead of Spain. There was a March 2009 article reprinted in the Latino Business Review that referred to America’s burgeoning Latino population as Nuevo Hispania.“With more than 46 million people, Nuevo Hispania is the 27th-largest nation on Earth, and the fourth largest in the Western Hemisphere,” the article by NBC reporters Timothy Sun and Alex Johnson said. “Even as the rest of the economy contracts in global recession, Nuevo Hispania remains a thriving, even booming, market that’s expected to grow by 48 percent in the next four years.”

I wouldn’t encourage that “Nuevo Hispania” bit. It sounds way too nationalistic. There are already too many hard-core conservative critics who allege that our hidden goal is to separate the Spanish-dominant areas of the nation from the rest of the country. I would rather emphasize our inclusion as part of the American whole.

Lest you think the prospect of a majority-Hispanic America off-putting, the good news is that Latinos, by the most important measures, are pretty much the same as “traditional” Americans. As I said my first book on this topic, HisPanic — which, let me helpfully point out, is now available in paperback — most of us speak English, (almost certainly after the first generation). We love our children, our wives, families and friends, our country, our teams, pets, our prides and our prejudices. We certainly have our bad manzanas (apples), but in broad strokes, most work hard, go to church, serve in the military (a hundred thousand strong), and now vote, just like most Americans, maybe soon more than most. Almost three in four Latinos surveyed following the 2008 presidential election said they were more interested this time than in the 2004 election, and that their new found interest in the political scene would continue. The sleeping giant is awake.

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    Image: Newly sworn-in U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor is congratulated by Chief Justice Roberts in Washington

    The life of Sonia Sotomayor

    From a childhood in the Bronx to her confirmation as a Supreme Court justice.

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    Newly sworn-in U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor (L) is congratulated by Chief Justice John Roberts (R) after taking the Judicial Oath as her brother Juan Luis Sotomayor looks on in the East Conference Room in Washington on August 8, 2009. Sotomayor is the first Hispanic and the third woman to serve in the history of the 220-year-old Supreme Court.

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    Supreme Court justice nominee Sonia Sotomayor takes her seat as she arrives for the hearing on her nomination as a Supreme Court justice on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on July 13, 2009. Confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Aug. 6, she is the first Hispanic and the third woman ever to serve on the highest court in the land.

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    Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor's mother, Celina Sotomayor (C), brother Juan Luis Sotomayor (R), and stepfather Omar Lopez (L) await the start of confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee July 13, 2009 in Washington, DC.

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    Sotomayor meets with Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., on Capitol Hill on July 9.

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    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev, wears a button on his lapel that said "Sonia" at a news conference with Hispanic leaders to promote Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor on June 4.

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    Sotomayor laughs after she was offered a pillow and a bag of ice by Sen. David Vitter, R-La., before their meeting on Capitol Hill on June 8. Sotomayor fractured her right ankle after stumbling on her way to be seated aboard her flight from New York to D.C.

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    Obama described Sotomayor as "an inspiring woman" with both the intellect and compassion to interpret the Constitution during her introduction at the White House on May 26, 2009.

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    Celina Sotomayor, mother of the Supreme Court nominee, cries during the announcement by President Obama on May 26.

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    President Obama walks alongside Sotomayor and Vice President Joe Biden on May 26 prior to introducing her at the White House.

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    Judge Sotomayor poses with her mother Celina Sotomayor in this undated photograph. When she was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Obama, the judge said of her mother, who was in attendance, "I am all I am because of her, and I am only half the woman she is."

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    Sotomayor receives an honorary degree in May, 2007, from Northeastern University School of Law in Boston.

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    Sotomayor delivers the 2003 commencement address at Pace University in White Plains, N.Y.

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    Sotomayor visits students at her alma mater, Cardinal Spellman High School, in the Bronx borough of New York.

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    Sotomayor was appointed to the federal bench in 1992. This photo was taken Oct. 14, 1998, as she posed by her office window in New York overlooking the old Federal Courthouse on Foley Square.

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    Sotomayor spends time with her niece Kylie Sotomayor in upstate New York. The judge's younger brother, Juan, is a doctor in Syracuse.

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    After graduating from Princeton in 1976, Sotomayor went to Yale Law School. With her law degree in hand in 1979, Sotomayor joined the Manhattan district attorney's office and the board of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund. She spent five years as a prosecutor before joining the New York law firm of Pavia & Harcourt, where she worked eight years before her appointment to the federal bench.

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    Sotomayor, seen here in her yearbook page, graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1976.

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    Sotomayor attended Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx before heading to Princeton University.

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    Sotomayor, here in a photo from around 1960, was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes and started taking insulin shots at the age of 8.

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    Born June 25, 1954, Sotomayor was raised in the Bronx by Celina and Juan Luis Sotomayor, who moved to New York from Puerto Rico. Her father died when Sonia was 9 years old.

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And from the point of view of the nation, that is a good thing, because the widely held work ethic among Latinos and the driving ambition so many hold to move their families up the social and economic food chain will help propel America to further greatness and prosperity. Latinos are the secret weapon of the country’s economy.

Granted, it might seem counter-intuitive that Latinos, of all people, should be identified as the current force to help right America’s economic ship of state. For many generations tracking back to the Middle Ages, Hispanics have been identified as virtually synonymous with grifters, gigolos, romancers, rapists, strike breakers, duelists, thieves or, in the New World worst of all, immigrants, especially illegal immigrants, takers from American society, not player-participants.

It is a bad rap made possible partially by the stereotype born of shared antagonistic history. In literature and movies our cultural ancestor Spain’s Catholic King Philip II is always portrayed as greasy, dark, tricky and wackily religious. And to many Anglo-Americans, U.S. Hispanics inherited and imported those traits into the United States. Since at least the 1588 defeat of Phillip II’s Spanish Armada by the navy of Elizabeth, Queen of England, and exacerbated by competition between the Spanish and English empires for world dominion, Hispanics have had a swarthy, amoral aspect attributed by the prevailing culture to our national/ethnic/racial roots, something vaguely sinister, voluptuous and lazy. Think belly-scratching siestas or Captain Hook, mustache-twirling predator.

Like Japanese-Americans during World War II, we have been the victims of a smear job of historic proportions. The deeply negative effect of the reckless anti-Hispanic immigrant propaganda campaign, especially during the early stages of the 2007-2008 presidential election cycle, can not be overstated from the point of view of most Hispanics in America, regardless of their party affiliation, economic heritage or racial self-image. There is almost no one — rich, poor, black, white, brown, peasant, jíbaro, caballero or caudillo — who is not still more or less offended by the harsh tone of the debate over Hispanic immigration.

The hard-right social conservatives shrieked about the Mexican swarm and made profoundly negative icons of young Latinos climbing the wall near Juárez or wading across the Rio Grande near Laredo, rafting ashore in south Florida, hiking across the Arizona desert at Nogales or beating the U.S. Customs and Immigration line at Tijuana. Meantime, real-world Hispanic American citizen voters looked around and realized how insulting the conversation had become.

In November 2008, Latinos made the Republican Party pay, and the price was steep: control of Congress and the White House. In record numbers Hispanics voted and in the end made a major, if not the decisive difference in the elections. By several sober analyses, including my own, there but for almost 12 million Hispanic voters John McCain would be president. But “I told you so” is not what this is about. The surge of Latino voters happened and, in a larger societal sense, is happening, and this book is about what that means.

My late, great ex-father-in-law Kurt Vonnegut once told me that when you talk to people, their primary concern is what your topic has to do with them. He also told me they were interested in how they could get your job, but that’s another story. Let me hasten to say that every conscientious American should root for the success of U.S. Hispanics, because they will be doing a hefty portion of our stressed nation’s economic heavy lifting going forward.

Like every group of immigrant newcomers that has come before, Latinos are filling vital and expanding roles in the U.S. economy. There is an entire class of strivers whose shops and bodegas do the commerce of the barrio, and that entrepreneurial spirit is matched by an intense and widespread work ethic among the legions who occupy the nation’s lower tiers of employment. “Latinos enter the labor force relatively early and do so robustly; Hispanic men in particular have the highest labor force participation rate of any subgroup (80.5%),” says the NCLR, quoting the U.S. Labor Department. That means more Latinos work, percentage-wise, than any other ethnic group.

I’ve been saying for most of my public life that in much of the United States there is scarcely a lawn mowed, a fruit picked or a baby cared for, but by a Hispanic. Citizen or not, millions toil in jobs that mainstream white and black cultures have moved away from, like fruit picking, poultry processing and meatpacking. “Those are Mexican jobs,” is an increasingly popular refrain in urban America. While many consider those dirty jobs as Gunga Din-class labor and see them as demeaning drudgery, Latinos, particularly the newer arrivals, have seized the opportunities that exist at or near the bottom of our still relatively affluent society, so down-low it is only minimally affected even in these times of widespread economic travail, turmoil and stress. You can still find plenty of jobs cleaning toilets, scrubbing pots, plucking chickens and cutting off cow heads in August in Iowa.

None of the furloughed Big Three autoworkers nor the financial wizards exiled by Citigroup or Merrill nor most of the newly unemployed white-collar middle-class are going to take those grinding, chain gang-like jobs picking blueberries in Michigan, avocados in California, doing minimum-wage, cold-weather, semiskilled construction jobs in Jersey (good luck if they can even find them) or sewing cheap shirts in South Florida.  Put a different way, if mainstream workers feel the need to compete for those jobs at the very bottom, the nation really is up the creek without a paddle.

And those young, hardworking Hispanic hard go-getters play a role beyond today. Because we have been inundated by unending, seldom varying cable news and talk radio reports and commentaries concerning the strain and drain Hispanics put on the economy, it is another perhaps counterintuitive fact that these largely entry-level workers are the secret weapon in the battle to keep the U.S. elderly solvent.

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    2015 Billboard Music Awards - Arrivals

    Jennifer Lopez's rise to fame

    From Fly Girl to international celebrity, Jennifer Lopez’s rise to fame — and her search for love — has made her a global phenomenon.

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    Jennifer Lopez arrives at the 73rd annual Golden Globe Awards on Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.

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    Busy Jennifer Lopez spends her time off from judging the final season of "American Idol" starring in the police drama "Shades of Blue."

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    Jennifer Lopez poses in the press room during the 2015 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 22, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. JLO hosted the event.

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    (L-R) Singers Jennifer Lopez, Claudia Leitte and Pitbull perform during the Opening Ceremony of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil at Arena de Sao Paulo on June 12, 2014 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

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    Actress Jennifer Lopez arrives at the premiere of Lionsgate's "What To Expect When You're Expecting" held at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on May 14, 2012 in Hollywood, California.

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    Actresses Jennifer Lopez (L) and Cameron Diaz present at the 84th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California, February 26, 2012.

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    Jennifer Lopez and Casper Smart arrive at their hotel on January 31, 2012 in New York City.

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    Back together again? -

    Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony attend the 2012 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour to promote their show,' ¡Q'Viva! The Chosen' on Jan. 14, 2012, in Pasadena, Calif. The show takes the former couple across Latin America in search of the best dancers, singers, musicians and street performers.

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    Lopez smiles toward photographers while filming the reality show 'Q'Viva! The Chosen' 'in Lima, Peru, on Dec. 3, 2011.

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    The glamorous judge -

    Lopez joined "American Idol" in its 10th season, sitting alongside fellow new judge Steven Tyler, left, and returning panelist Randy Jackson. J.Lo quickly established herself as a nice judge, but unlike some who came before her, she gives the contestants constructive criticism they can use. She returned for season 11.

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    Lopez performs at the 39th Annual American Music Awards in Los Angeles on Nov. 20, 2011.

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    Lopez poses backstage with her award for latin music favorite artist at the 39th Annual American Music Awards in Los Angeles on Nov. 20, 2011.

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    Lopez and her husband Marc Anthony attend the Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony for British entertainment entrepreneur Simon Fuller in Hollywood, Calif., on May 23, 2011.

    The couple announced on July 15, 2011, that they were divorcing after seven years of marriage. "This was a very difficult decision," the couple said in a statement. "It is a painful time for all involved and we appreciate the respect of our privacy at this time."

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    Lopez and Anthony arrive at a screening of her movie "The Back-up Plan" in Miami on April 14, 2010.

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    Rocky romance -

    Lopez costars with Alex O'Loughlin in "The Backup Plan," a 2010 comedy about a woman who becomes romantically involved after becoming pregnant by artificial insemination.

    CBS Films / CBS Films
  • Image: Jennifer Lopez

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    Lopez is a vision in white as she arrives for the 82nd Academy Awards on March 7, 2010.

    AP / AP
  • Image: Jennifer Lopez introduces Green Day at the 52nd annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles

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    Grammy glamour -

    Lopez wore a metallic ensemble as she introduced the band Green Day at the 52nd annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Jan. 31, 2010.

    Reuters / Reuters
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    Dazzling -

    Lopez performs during Times Square's New Year’s Eve celebration in New York on Dec. 31, 2009. J. Lo's revealing diamond-encrusted catsuit was the talk of the town.

    AP / AP
  • Image: 2009 American Music Awards - Audience And Show

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    New hit -

    Lopez performs the song 'Louboutins' onstage at the 2009 American Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Nov. 22, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. After climbing a stairway of dancers and jumping off, Lopez tripped but made a quick recovery.

    Getty Images Contributor / Getty Images Contributor
  • Actress Jennifer Lopez arrives for the w

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    "This is it" premiere -

    Lopez arrives for the world premiere of the Michael Jackson’s “This is it” at the Nokia Theatre at LA Live on October 27, 2009 in Los Angeles.

    AFP - Getty Images / AFP - Getty Images
  • Image: Singer Anthony and actress Lopez speaks to reporters before meeting with Pelosi in Washington

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    Capitol hill visit -

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Lopez's husband Marc Anthony, Rep. Nydia Valazquez and Lopez face reporters before a meeting to discuss education in the Latino community and college affordability legislation on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 16, 2009.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • US actress and pop singer Jennifer Lopez

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    Domo arigato -

    Lopez poses for photographers at an event by Japanese fashion company Samantha Thavasa in the young fashion district of Shibuya in Tokyo on March 29, 2009.

    AFP/Getty Images / AFP/Getty Images
  • Marc Anthony Performs Valentine's Day Show At Madison Square Garden

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    Family affair -

    Anthony and Lopez hold their twins, Emme and Max, on stage before Anthony performs at a Valentine's Day show at New York's Madison Square Garden on Feb. 14, 2009.

    WireImage / WireImage
  • The 66th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Arrivals

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    Golden girl -

    Lopez arrives at the 66th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Jan. 11, 2009 in Beverly Hills, California.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony

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    Fashion forward -

    Lopez and Anthony arrive at the Fashion Group's 25th Annual Night of Stars in New York.on Oct. 23, 2008.

    AP / AP
  • Jennifer Lopez Launches Her Deseo For Men Fragrance

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    Oooo-oooo, that smell -

    Lopez attends the launch of her fragrance Deseo For Men at Macy's at Herald Square on Sept. 29, 2008, in New York.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • IMAGE: Jennifer Lopez

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    Triple threat -

    Lopez begins the the bicycling portion of the 2008 Nautica Malibu Triathlon in Malibu, Calif., on Sunday, Sept. 14, 2008. She raised $127,000 for the Children's Hospital of L.A. thanks to her athletic achievement -- just seven months after giving birth.

    AP / AP
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    Bundles of joy -

    Lopez and Anthony arrive with their children Max and Emme in Zaventem, Belgium, on June 18, 2008, for a concert Anthony was giving in Antwerp. The twins were born on Feb. 22.

    AFP - Getty Images / AFP - Getty Images
  • Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez arrive at "Movies Rock" at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood

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    Bump in the relationship -

    Anthony and Lopez arrive for the taping of "Movies Rock" at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Calif., on Dec. 2, 2007. The two-hour special celebrated music's most iconic moments in film. And the celebrity couple was celebrating the fact that they were soon to be parents of twins.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • US singer Jennifer Lopez performs during

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    World superstar -

    Lopez performs at Luz stadium in Lisbon in July 2007 to present the New 7 Wonders of the World.

    AFP - Getty Images / AFP - Getty Images
  • Germany - 57th Berlinale International Film Festival - Jennifer Lopez Receives The "Artists for Amnesty" Award.  Lopez received the Artists for Amnesty International award "in recognition of her work as producer and star of Bordertown, a film exposing the

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    Actress & activist -

    Lopez shows her gratitude for receiving the Artists for Amnesty award during the 57th Berlinale International Film Festival. It was for her work producing and starring in the future film "Bordertown."

    Corbis / Corbis
  • Mark Anthony, Jennifer Lopez

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    A perfect match -

    After several failed relationships and marriages, Jennifer finally married her Mr. Right -- Marc Anthony. The two tied the knot in a quiet home ceremony on June 5, 2004.

    AP / AP
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    Cover girl -

    There's no denying that Lopez is a Latin beauty. She's been featured in People's "50 Most Beautiful" issue in 2006 and the "100 Most Influential Hispanics" issue in February 2007. Despite what people might think of her acting, Lopez is one of the highest-paid actresses in Hollywood and the highest-paid Latin actress in Hollywood history.

    People en Espanol / People en Espanol
  • Jennifer Lopez Signs "Como Ama Una Mujer" At F.Y.E

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    Fan appreciation -

    In March 2007, Lopez says thank-you to her fans with a New York City signing of her new Spanish language CD, "Como Ama Una Mujer."

    Getty Images / Getty Images
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    Jane vs. Jennifer -

    The two divas -- played by Jane Fonda and Jennifer Lopez -- battle it out in Robert Luketic's 2005 romantic comedy "Monster-in-Law."

    New Line Cinema / New Line Cinema
  • Jennifer Lopez and Fat Joe Shoot "Hold You Down"

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    City girl -

    The Bronx, N.Y., native shows she still has her New York edge and fashion in this fierce fur ensemble.

    WireImage / WireImage
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    The heat is on -

    Lopez heats up the screen with Richard Gere in the 2004 film "Shall We Dance?"

    Miramax Films / Miramax Films
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    Sweet smell of success -

    Lopez ventures into the perfume industry with her debut scent Glow by J.Lo which broke numerous sales records. She's vaulted from backup dancer to global entrepreneur.

    Glow by JLO / Glow by JLO
  • AFFLECK LOPEZ

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    The rise of "Bennifer" -

    Who could forget the highly publicized relationship between Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez? Dubbed "Bennifer" by the media, the two caused quite a stir when Affleck gave her a six-carat pink diamond ring worth a reported $1.2 million. The marriage, however, never happened.

    AP / AP
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    Casting against type -

    Lopez's film career continued to soar with the romantic comedy "Maid in Manhattan." The film was released in 2002 and co-stars British cutie Ralph Fiennes. Lopez plays Marisa Ventura, a single mother who works as a maid at a five-star New York City hotel.

    Columbia Pictures / Columbia Pictures
  • 2001 MTV Video Music Awards

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    Husband No. 2 -

    Lopez and fiance Cris Judd show their love at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards. They met on the set of her music video, where he was a backup dancer, married on Sept. 29, 2001, and divorced in August 2002.

    Corbis / Corbis
  • Jennifer Lopez in New York

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    Muy caliente! -

    Lopez heats up the Plaza with a belly-baring performance on the TODAY show's concert series on July 13, 2001, in New York City.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • JENNIFER LOPEZ

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    She's got the look -

    In 2001, the singer launched her clothing line, J.LO by Jennifer Lopez.

    AP / AP
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    Critical acclaim -

    Lopez went dark and edgy in the 2000 film, "The Cell," starring Vince Vaughn and Vincent D'Onofrio.

    New Line Cinema / New Line Cinema
  • SEAN "PUFFY" COMBS AND JENNIFER LOPEZ BACKSTAGE AT GRAMMYS

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    Becoming a superstar -

    Lopez strikes a pose in the infamous Versace dress with her boyfriend, Sean "Puffy" Combs, at the 42nd Grammys. Their relationship lasted for two and a half years.

    Reuters / Reuters
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    J.Lo the singer -

    Lopez made her singing debut with her first album "On the 6," released on June 1, 1999. It featured the popular songs "If You Had My Love" and "Waiting for Tonight."

    Sony / Sony
  • "Selena" Movie Premiere

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    Starter husband -

    Lopez met her first husband, Ojani Noa, when he worked as a waiter in Miami. They married on February 22, 1997, and divorced in March 1998. Several years after the divorce, she hired Noa as the manager of her Pasadena restaurant, Madre's, but he was fired only months later.

    Zuma Press via Corbis / Zuma Press via Corbis
  • Jennifer Lopez Fall  2005 - Runway

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    Ms. Fashionista -

    In February 2005, Lopez showed the fall line of J.LO by Jennifer Lopez during Olympus Fashion Week in New York City's Bryant Park.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
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    A star is born -

    Early in her acting career, Lopez played Texas-born Tejano singer Selena.

    Warner Bros via Everett Collecti / Warner Bros via Everett Collecti
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    I believe I can Fly -

    Lopez is shown with her hand on Keenen Ivory Wayans' shoulder in a 1992 promo shot for "In Living Color." Lopez gained her first regular high-profile job as a "Fly Girl" dancer on the television comedy program.

    Everett Collection / Everett Collection

As American society gets older, economists are united in their fear that the Social Security trust fund will be bankrupted by the explosive number of boomer retirees in proportion to the dwindling number, relatively speaking, of their children, those still producing and contributing to the system. But the grim prognosis does not adequately figure in the exceptional Latino population explosion that is filling the depleted ranks of the U.S. working class.

The median age of the white U.S. population is well over forty years old. For Hispanic Americans it is 27.6. In other words, the U.S. Hispanic population is on average more than twelve years younger than whites. You do the math when it comes to who will be working and paying into the Social Security trust fund.

Now, the nation, with President Obama at the wheel, is driving through a tough patch, maybe one of the toughest ever. Among Latinos, aside from worrying about their economic future, there is also concern that the tremendous gains made in integrating into larger American society will be eroded, that anti-immigrant sentiment is being further stoked by financial uncertainty; that an already difficult situation is being aggravated by hard times. This book attempts to explain why it is in America’s best interests to cheer on and encourage the legitimate aspirations of the group destined unalterably to play a gigantic role in our nation’s future. Like the Irish, Asian, African, German, Italian, Greek, Northern and Eastern Europeans, we are proud, eager, able travelers on our country’s Great Progression.

Excerpted from "The Great Progression: How Hispanics Will Lead America to a New Era of Prosperity,"by Geraldo Rivera. Copyright (c) 2009, reprinted with permission from Penguin Group.

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