As I was walking toward the A train to go to work, my mind was forming new ideas and thinking about topics for September’s issue of CNY Latino, I thought of my first write up which was “Rediscovering one’s culture” and one of the points I brought up was learning who our leaders are. When that happened, I had an AHA moment. I decided that it would be a fairly good idea to start a series. Latino Leaders of NYC series, where I interview leaders of our community. This series will be every other month. This month shall be the first. The person I interviewed was the first Latino leader I was introduced to when I was just 15 years old, he recommended a book that would become my favorite book and the one that effectively changed my life, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Ever since then I became a glutton for wisdom and knowledge, that book is the reason why I am the way I am, so indirectly he helped change my life, without further ado I present the first of the Latino Leaders of NYC. Now this is just a preview of the interview, by next month I should have a blog dedicated to the series where, if interested, you can read and listen to the interview in its entirety.
Q: For those that may not know you, tell us who you are?
A: My name is Julio Pabón, and I am long time Bronx resident came here when I was four years old from Puerto Rico and I have been living here in South Bronx all my life.
Q: You founded this company called Latino Sports, why? And how did it happen?
A: Latino Sports is a sports promotions, news portal, for Latinos and non-Latinos to know more about our culture and sports, there are many Latinos in baseball and people only know the stars. You hear of Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, David Ortiz, how about the other Latino superstars that are there that are not the mega superstars and nobody knows about them, I think any Latino that has made it to a professional team, whether they are a big star or a benchwarmer (come banco), the fact that they are there it took discipline, commitment, and sacrifice and to me they need to be publicize so I publicize them, because there are a lot of other young people that perhaps can also see, “if this guy made it, then maybe I can make it” not just in baseball but maybe making it in becoming a dentist or a doctor or whatever they want to have in life, it is there for encouragement. Latino Sports basically started in 1989, while I was in Puerto Rico I was at a bar watching the Baseball Writers Association announce their MVP award, when they announced that it was Robin Yout and not Ruben Sierra everyone went into a craze. I thought maybe I should give him an award. When I said that everybody that was there happened to be a reporter, so I was on the radio telling them about my idea about giving Ruben Sierra an award. It would be rather egotistical of me to present Ruben Sierra with an award on behalf of me, so I decided to present him with an award on behalf of Latino Sports, ever since then we have given an award for 25 years and then it had eventually snowballed into a credible and respected news organization.
Q: Why do think that there is a lack of Latinos in sport journalism or anchors in the main channels as opposed to Fox Latino or ESPN Latino?
A: A lot has to do with the fact that they still do not understand our community, they still see us as immigrants, they fail to see that the fastest growing community, the largest ethnic community growing is Latinos. America, I think deals in shock, when something happens they react, and that is when they start paying attention. They are still dealing with the issues of African-Americans, they look at African- Americans as the still minority of choice, even though it is not the fastest or the largest minority of choice. You see more African-Americans in sport journalism and anchors and you still do not see more Latinos even though our population calls for it. It is because they do not understand our community, our community is still not given the respect it deserves and they still see us as immigrants, which is a major problem. Which is why Latino sports exist to reflect the growing Latino presence in sports.
Q: What are the main issues that are present in the South Bronx?
A: Health, in New York State there are 62 counties, the Bronx is number 62 when it comes to health. We have one of the highest asthma rate, high blood pressure rates, people still with AIDS, child mortality rates, child obesity it goes on and on. It is very concerning because health has a lot to do with poverty, if you are poor and you are not eating well that is going to affect you in school because are so hyper if all you eat and drink is sugar you cannot concentrate. Education is very important, the way to break out of poverty is education and I am a product of it. What got me out of poverty was the fact that there are programs in which a guy like me gets to go to college, and they would actually pay me to be able to stay in college. Another problem is that the fact that we are spending over a $100,000 to keep someone in Riker’s Island when it only takes only a several thousand to keep them in a college I think that there is something wrong with that picture. I think we need to focus on education, especially in the South Bronx.