The United States is growing both older and more diverse. Diverse elders—defined by this coalition to include African Americans, Asian American and Pacific Islanders, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Southeast Asians, Hispanic populations, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender older adults—bring expertise, wisdom, experience, language, cultural and institutional knowledge, and countless other contributions to their own communities and to the nation as a whole. The more the talents of all communities are cultivated—regardless of age, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity—the stronger we are as a nation.
As a more diverse and burgeoning segment of society, older adults contribute to the economic, political and cultural landscape of our country. Diverse older adults are (or once were) entrepreneurs, teachers, farm workers, doctors, municipal workers, engineers, civil servants, factory workers, corporate and government leaders, nonprofit workers, attorneys, and manual laborers. These are the older persons who worked in our factories, picked our food, served in our military, and helped rebuild the American infrastructure. Today, many diverse older adults volunteer at their places of worship, tutoring the underprivileged, providing daycare services, and running food pantries. Some care for grandchildren who might otherwise end up in the foster care system. Others serve as the financial anchor of their family. Yet, despite these many contributions, mainstream society often views these elders negatively—as a burden and problem to be addressed, rather than as a resource to be honored and cultivated.
Regardless of perception, ethnicity, heritage, culture, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity, older adults want to live their later years with dignity through economic security, access to needed health services, decent housing, and freedom from ageism. Many want to remain active in society: participating in the creation and implementation of policy; volunteering in positions appropriate to their time and interests; and forming movements or associations that serve the country at large.
This excerpt is taken from Securing Our Future: Advancing Economic Security for Diverse Elders, by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development. Read the full report >>
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