There’s No Black-Brown Divide — Just Latino Envy


LatinaLista — For the last couple of weeks, one topic that has perpetuated the media and the blogosphere is the notion that there exists a Black-Brown divide on the national political front.
It’s pretty much accepted among the inteligente that it’s just a bunch of verbage to fill in the downtime during this campaign season, and might I dare say, plant an unsubtle thorn into the side of the Obama campaign.
Yet, from TIME to Newsweek to cable and radio talk shows, the discussion of this so-called “divide” has triggered way too much attention in the “white” media realm.

If there exists anything between Blacks and Latinos when it comes to national politics, it’s the fact that rather than be angry with our black hermanos — we’re envious that someone has arrived who is eloquent, inspiring and a person of color.

In this election, the assumption was that Latinos had pinned their hopes on Bill Richardson to “represent” us. His early departure from the race was supposed to have left us scrambling to find his replacement.
The only problem with that assumption was that Richardson, being older, didn’t resonate with that many young Latinos.
According to the Census Bureau, the median age in the Latino population is 27.4 years old. Compared to the population as a whole, that comes in at 36.4 years, Latinos are 9 years younger than whites. Not to mention that about a third of the Latino population itself is younger than 18.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson

It’s not surprising that a candidate perceived to be at least two generations apart from the majority age demographic within the population would not fare very well. It’s not that Richardson didn’t try. He was so hip, being on Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, etc., but there’s only so much a person over 50 can do to look and sound young.
And for a young demographic like Latinos, someone who comes close to looking like them while speaking in an inspiringly authoritative manner makes a bigger impression — on all Latinos.
The point was underscored for me while listening to a local Spanish-language radio show the other day. The guest on the show asked the host to name three national Black leaders, past or present. The host rattled off: Martin Luther King, Jr., Jesse Jackson and Malcolm X.
Then the guest asked the host to name three national Latino leaders, past or present. The host replied Cesar Chavez. The guest said that Chavez didn’t count because he represented only a small portion of the Latino population, the farm workers.
The guest asked the host to try again. The host couldn’t think of anyone.
I couldn’t either. Looking back at those Latinos who had promising political aspirations like Henry Cisneros or, yes, Alberto Gonzales, only to be derailed by their own lustful greed, has left the Latino population with a dearth of representation on the national scene.
Though there are a number of high-ranking Latino congressional representatives, no one has broken out of the pact to take a lead.
Why? It’s a question that the Latino community at-large must ask ourselves.
Even Richardson, who as governor of New Mexico and was a presidential candidate, couldn’t shake from being in the shadows of Clinton and Obama and Edwards too.
Just as it’s time to bring the undocumented out of the shadows, it’s time for the Latino community to come out of the shadows when it comes to taking a lead in political leadership.
We have the people. We just have to have the will.