It was a simple ribbon-cutting ceremony in a tiny basement in one of the modest converted houses in our Downtown Las Vegas neighborhood, utterly unassuming. But what I witnessed at the grand opening party of the Rivera Law Firm on August 29 was truly overwhelming.
I feel my depiction of the scene won’t do it justice, as before I arrived in Las Vegas this environment was impossible for me to envision. You are in a neighborhood of ramblers that have been converted into office space, mainly law firms because of the proximity to municipal and judicial buildings. Many of these home-offices house several law practices, many of which are comprised of a sole person. And while basements are a foreign concept in this part of the country, you walk downstairs into a basement containing a wet bar that is a vestige of a bygone era of the local political scene. And that particular evening, that basement contained the “best in class” of Las Vegas young professional Latinos.
As I was leaving DC, my concept of Las Vegas was hardly different from the common prejudices, which scant need elaboration. I came from a city of posturing with profession, pedigree and intellect, lots of name-dropping and show-off knowledge. I did not expect to be intellectually challenged in coming to Las Vegas. In fact, I thought to some degree I was landing in Lilliput.
Yet to my pleasant surprise, by landing in the Latino community, my intellect, knowledge and reasoning have been challenged more here than since time immemorial. The structures that have defined and constrained my entire life do not exist here, but the opportunities do. I have been presented with what I’ve been calling the cream of the crop of native Las Vegas Latinos, the ones who have made good on the sweat and sacrifice of their parents’ hard-won immigration. As these folks have been the first through the wall in the professional world, their humility, gratitude and emphasis on the collective is quite something to behold.
For some reason, it never ceases to surprise me when professional adults genuinely have each other’s best interests at heart. In a zero-sum climate of creative destruction and progress via competition, collaboration and mutual support seem like quaint and antiquated concepts. In our postmodern age, where it is cool to be dismissive, and unbridled enthusiasm is idiotic and at best naive, to be enveloped in the palpable appreciation and encouragement of the top class of young Las Vegas Latinos anointing one of their own and helping propel her toward greatness felt heartwarming in a way that is nearly extinct.
On that late August evening in a stuffy basement in a nondescript house in Downtown Las Vegas, you could see the manifestation of what have long been dismissed as silly idealistic sayings: that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and that all boats rise with the tide. And for me, merely to be on a raft beside them has presented what any seasoned adult can appreciate as the rarest of privileges: idealism.