We Just Won One of the Most Important Civil Rights Victories of the 21st Century

This originally appeared on the National Hispanic Media Coalition blog.

We just won a historic victory, a critical step towards equality for Latinos in the digital age. Yet many American Latinos are unaware of this win and the tremendous potential it brings for us and our families to achieve full participation in the American dream: better educations, better jobs, more financial stability and more political power.

No, unfortunately, I am not talking about important and much needed reforms to education, immigration, criminal justice, and the other major issues before us today. But this victory has far reaching implications for the way we leverage our burgeoning political power in these kinds of fights in the months and years to come.

So what is this beautiful, mysterious victory? On Feb. 26, the Federal Communications Commission voted to adopt Net Neutrality rules. These rules prohibit Internet service providers like Time Warner Cable, Verizon and AT&T from blocking certain Internet content or creating Internet fast lanes for a few wealthy companies, and slow lanes for the rest of us.

In addition, the FCC’s decision creates a clear pathway for the agency to adopt programs that make home broadband Internet connections much more affordable for the 47 percent of American Latinos, and the 62 percent of Spanish-dominant American Latinos, that remain unconnected to this critical resource. The U.S. has some of the most expensive broadband Internet in the developed world — the high cost is a major barrier to getting many American Latinos online — and this decision could decisively alter that dynamic. This means that Internet users will be able to access the website of a small, Latino-owned business just as easily as Walmart’s website. And that websites of advocacy organizations like Presente.org, which uses online organizing tools to fight for such important issues as immigration reform, criminal justice and environmental protections, will not be blocked or relegated to a slow lane. It also means that Latino creators can produce and distribute content that authentically portrays American Latinos devoid of the stereotypical news and entertainment images we often see on traditional American media.

As with healthcare and the president’s executive action on immigration, Republicans in Congress are now working to destroy this historic victory that benefits every day people. Meanwhile, Internet service providers are spending millions of dollars for their lobbyists to distort the facts and entice Congressional action to overturn the FCC’s decision.

The National Hispanic Media Coalition, along with over 100 other civil rights and racial justice organizations, is fighting to preserve Net Neutrality, and I invite you to join us by calling your members of Congress and telling them that you support the FCC’s decision.

From finding a doctor to finding your elected official, Net Neutrality is the key to opening doors. The FCC’s Net Neutrality decision ensures that those doors will remain open for Latinos and all Internet users.