A Kansas City report reveals disparaging gaps between minorities and whites in education and jobs and one group is speaking out about how it will affect the city.
Raul Martinez, a single father, started at the Guadalupe Center as a custodian. Now he's the lead cook for the Guadalupe schools and senior facilities.
He spoke to KCTV5 with the help of his interpreter, Mercedes Mora.
"Now that I know a little about culinary arts. I'll probably just improve in that area," Mora translated for Martinez.
Martinez and his family are among Kansas City's growing minority population.
By the year 2040, 42 percent of Kansas City will be people of color, according to a recent equity report from MARC, the Mid-America Regional Council.
But the report also says Kansas City's economic future is at risk because of the under-investment in communities of color.
"If we continue to have those growing numbers and we just leave things as they are without making an effort to change that educational path for people of color, we really see where you can have yourself a major problem," said Gloria Ortiz-Fisher with the Westside Housing Authority.
MARC, in conjunction with Kansas City's Chamber of Commerce, addressed racial gaps in Kansas City and nine surrounding counties. In the region, one out of four Blacks and Latinos live below poverty. And minority youth are disconnected from aging white seniors.
"What kind of nurse do you want working on you? What kind of doctor do you want operating on you," Ortiz-Fisher said of questions many consider.
Dr. Manuel Pastor, guest speaker at Tuesday's luncheon and director of environment and regional equity at the University of Southern California, said business leaders must invest in minority youth. It's not only good for children but he says for the economy as well.
"But often people think of it as someone else's problem, the issue is not if you've got a whole generation of youth growing up in those conditions," Pastor said.
Martinez, who said he only finished the 6th grade, hopes his daughter's path is much easier.
"…because she sees what I do, her dream is to become a chef," he said.
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