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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.



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  • Maldonado
    January 31, 2008 at 12:40 am

    LL, you are WAY off on all your points.
    Richardson didn’t resonate well because he looked lousy in a suit. He looked like the Mexican Boris Yeltsin. A brooks Brothers suit couldn’t have got him elected.
    In addition, he’s too dark. And people were finding out his dad was Nicaraguan. People will accept a Mexican mother, but not a
    “Nica” dad. They wanted Richardson to be a European white man, which he is not. And cant “pass” (you know what I mean) for one either.
    Also, IMO you give WAY too much weight to “Latino” youth. The numbers, although accurate, simply aren’t enough. If they can vote at the mall, then fine, but until then white, LATINO, black, Asian (etc.) youth aren’t going to get anyone elected.
    Young people will have their day.
    “America” already has a minority – blacks. MEXICANS DONT FIT (nationally that is). Where will they put the blacks? Do you think Anderson Cooper et al is going to have two Mexican-Americans, two blacks and two women and just the one Khazar? Oh ya, white males will really tune in to that show.
    They’ll put a “Latina” in there but she better be hot and having a Khazar husband certainly wont hurt her chances.
    Next point:
    LL: “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…”
    What radio station were you listening to? “Paisa” radio?
    They dont care about our heroes. We have to do what’s humane for them, but most dont give a rats ass about us. But that’s OK. Because inevitably their children turn out like us. LoL 😉
    Chavez represented millions of working men and women. Not just farmworkers and not just Mexican Americans.
    If you could not think of anyone other than Cisneros and Gonzales then that’s on you. I’ll admit our history is trumped by Anglo history in the school system(s), even in the southwest but that’s what happens when Anglos invade your land and steal everything at gunpoint for themselves.
    Those interested enough can certainly learn about our leaders, past and present. And they do not need google to do it. They can go to the library and get whats called a BOOK!
    Did I hit the wrong bookmark? I feel like I’m at Latino-self-censored -Blog.
    LL, no seas chismosa.
    I do not know about what Henry Gonzales did. But Cisneros’s violation was that he told a lie, not the actual indiscretion itself. Big deal. It didn’t stop him from running Univision.
    Funny how you couldn’t think of Gregorio Cortez or Art Torres or anyone else. Maybe your waiting for the messiah. Like white politicians with impeccable pasts and reputations (TOM DELAY).
    We have the leaders, you just have to stop being embarrassed of them.
    We have to stop raising our children to be ashamed of what they are. And we have to stop telling them they are something that they are not.
    We need to end this colonized attitude. We need to quit pretending that we are included or even wanted in this system.
    We need to do our own thing -make our own loop – and say ya basta to this illusion of inclusion.

  • JimPanzee
    January 31, 2008 at 6:42 am

    This may be the obvious answer but, for a couple hundred years there was really only one kind of black person in this country, and that was a slave or descended from one (or both). The leaders that rose up from that community spoke for all of them and he was one of them.
    The latino situation is substantially different. For one thing, most that are here are here with some element of choice. And of course, the larger difference is that there are so many nationalities. Chavez didn’t just work for “the farm workers” he worked for Mexican farm workers. The odds of any leader popping up are in favor of that leader being Mexican…since there are far more Mexican/Mexican descendants than any other group. Is that person going to be able to speak to and for Dominicans, Guatemalans, Salvadorenos? Would they want him/her to?
    It’s not that its impossible, it’s just harder.
    And keep in mind, the blacks were freed by law in the 1860s. It took a century before the began moving toward freedom in fact. In that 100 years there were only a handful of black leaders that rose to national prominence: Dubois, Douglas, and the ones listed above.
    While there have been Mexicans in this country since (before) its inception, there hasn’t been the urban critical mass levels that move politicians until very recently (except in places like Chicago and LA…where there have been very effective regional leaders like Chavez).

  • Frank
    January 31, 2008 at 7:58 am

    Come on folks, who cares what race/ethnicity a politician is? What counts is what they stand for. This is all very divisive and racist IMO.
    By the way, it wasn’t only white-anglos that migrated here, it was also the white-Spaniards (the Mestizo-Mexican’s ancestors). They were just as guilty of any sins against the natives as the anglos were. Throughout history all over this planet wars have been fought and lands exchanged hands. Stop whining about the past and move into the present. Americans who are living in the past are just keeping us divided as a nation.

  • laura
    January 31, 2008 at 9:13 am

    What does age have to do with it ?
    Latino/as have extremely effective leaders: look at the millions who came out on May 1 in 2006. Who organized May 1 ?
    Latino’as will find their voice nationally too.
    Once they stop looking to depraved people like Alberto Gonzales as representatives. Once they stop looking to powerful Republicans or Democrats to give them a little sliver of power.
    If Barack Obama – or Hillary Clinton – or John McCain – becomes president, nothing good will happen for Latina/os until a strong movement leaves the politicians no other choice but to stop the scapegoating of undocumented people. To stop the violations of Latino/as human rights and civil rights.
    Just like the Black Civil Rights movement.

  • Frank
    January 31, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    laura, the Democrats and McCain are bending over backwards to pander to Latino’s, so what are you talking about? We don’t need a scapegoat to enforce our immigration laws. They are what they are and every country has them.
    What violation of civil and human rights are occuring with Latinos? Are you kidding me?
    What does the Civil Rights Movement of Black citizens of the past have to do with any of this?

    January 31, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    Every legal citizen of this nation has a right and a resposibility to make changes in our government through the power of our vote. The front runners in this election will stand very far back from the immigration issue due to voters that believe in the enforcement of all immigration laws. Nothing will ever happen like the botched up 1986 blanket amnesty that created the current wave of mass illegal immigration which has divided us into pro/con illegal alien groups. The Black Civil Rights movement was conducted by legal U.S. citizens and those that supported them, like myself. Support for illegal aliens that have broken the law with just their presence here is not exactly the same as citizens demanding equal rights. If you are unable to differentiate between the two, then your goals are ethnically driven and very un-American.

  • Lucian
    February 1, 2008 at 10:47 am

    Simple, immigration reform needs to change the law and simply make all who enter this country, who sign the paper work, into legal citizens.
    Get rid of the border and all false border ideas, because borders are functionally, economically and practically as impossible as the idea of the fence.
    Instead of pretending like we have borders and immigration laws, we should just get rid of all the bad laws which prevent immigration.
    The only border should be the natural border around the American continent itself. If someone gets to Canada or Mexico, they should be given a chance for dual citizenship provided they pass an english test.
    The only problem with illegal immigration is the fact that it’s illegal. Decriminalize immigration and the problem solves itself.

  • Frank
    February 1, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    Sure thing, I am sure that all countries will go along with your “no sovereigtny, no borders” idea. Afterall, it would only be fair that no country have borders then. Have you given any thought to the cultural and religious clashes there would be if everyone were allowed to move to any country they wanted too? How about we let in all the Islamic freaks too? You’re a nutcase.

  • Frank
    February 1, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    You’re also a nutcase if you think that Latin America or Canada would go along with this. Hispanics are adamant about preserving their cultures in their own countries and with a high influx of Anglo’s and others into their countries, that would all change. Yeah, they’d love that!

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