All posts by Alvaro Romero-Perez

The Latino Vote Doesn’t Exist

When I say that I don’t mean to diminish any Latino or Hispanic, I just meant they are not what Americans think of them… by Americans I meant ‘American politicians”.

In this country there are three classes of Latinos: the illegal ones, the ones that have found it very difficult to get integrated to this society and the ones that have been assimilated. Which ones of these three are they talking about when they talk about the Latino Vote?

Let’s see. Giuliani idea of winning the Latino vote was flooding Florida with advertising in Spanish, Ted Kennedy was singing in Spanish, George Bush brought some Mexican singers to his campaign in LA mumbled some words in Spanish “como esta amigou?” I think (by the way Vicente Fernandez the singer at that event need the singing crash course… three hours would do) and his nephew (Jeff’s son) gave an speech in Spanish.

All that reminds me of the old times (or maybe actual times) when the Mexican politician brought thousands of people to their political rallies with the promise of  giving them lunch (a torta, a soda and an orange)… over time it became a tradition and a symbol  of political campaigning in Mexico. Those were the famous “acarreados”  or the “carried ones” and many of them voted for that politician because they felt they have to pay that way for the lunch that they received.

When it comes to romancing the Latino vote in America seems like they have read the same book than their Mexican counterparts. They show to those events surrounded by a bunch of mariachis and bark couple words in Spanish and then talk about immigration and farm labor … but all those things are of importance only for the illegal immigrants, and they don’t vote.

 

The are some other issues that are important like the low education levels in the Spanish population, deserting school, teen pregnancy, early marriage, woman abuse, religious intolerance, etc. those are the things the politician should be talking about when campaigning the Latino populated areas, but they don’t because they are afraid of offending sensitivities. This group of people doesn’t care really. They display his apathy by not voting or voting for whomever brings more mariachis or calls tem “amigous”… most of them have no interest in participating in the American politics.

The third group is crowded with educated people, business people, students, activists, celebrities, and Mexican descendants from the time when Texas belonged to Mexico or newer generations. This people have made their mind base on their own analysis of the American politics, the economy, their values and they vote either Republican or Democrat… Look at Bill Richardson… a democrat with an American agenda or Mel Martinez… a Republican with an American agenda too.

Reverend Jeremiah Wright… a Place in History?

I’ll start saying that I like Reverend Jeremiah Wright. I just mean that he seems to be a nice person and probably a very good pastor for those who might need his spiritual advice or support. Same as millions of Americans, I don’t know much about him but the couple of YouTube video clips that everybody has seen (most probably courtesy of Hillary Clinton) and his two appearances on TV… and that is what I want to talk about.  For some reason I thought of the Nicaraguan poet Ernesto cardinal yesterday while I was watching the reverend’s speech. I thought of Ernesto’s poem “Cuidate Claudia”

Be careful, Claudia,
when you’re with me,
because the slightest gesture,
any word, a sigh
Claudia,
a minor oversight,
perhaps one day
will be examine by scholars
And this dance Claudia
might be remembered for centuries
Claudia… I’m telling you.


I wonder if Jeremiah Wright is conscious of the place that he was taking in history.  Seems to me that thirty years ago the tickets he bought were for upper balcony seats, and at the end of the show he found himself sitting in the first row wondering how did this happen?  Or maybe just like a basket ball player finds himself with the ball in his hands a second before the game is over… what do I do now?Same as thousand of people across the country, I followed yesterday’s (Sunday, April 27, 2008) speech with curios attention. Not just about what he would say on his relationship with Barack Obama, but wondering, what does this man have to say to the world?  Why he didn’t say anything before? What makes him deserve national attention all of the sudden? There are dozens or maybe hundreds of pastors just like Reverend Jeremiah Wright in the United States, and I know for certain that they are no different from one another. I have had my share of black gospel on TV and I have dropped in from time to time to a black church just to see what is going on… so I can say with certainty that they don’t differ from one another by much… just some differences in the show, the people on stage, the choir, the band and the gesticulation are different, but the spirit is the same. So the question is what makes Reverend Jeremiah Wright different? Some people had become famous for free, not having to do anything.  An example would be Paris Hilton who’s only merit was to be born into the Hilton family or Nicole Richie who’s only merit was to be friends with Paris.  Well, Jeremiah Wright was the pastor of the church where Barack Obama went from time to time. Now we know that Barack Obama didn’t listen to the pastor because he said that “if he had listened he would have distanced himself from the church”.  So, he went to that church but he didn’t listen to the sermons, just like most Sunday churchgoers… but the reverend is now a celebrity.TheNAACP awarded the reverend because he is the “hottest brother”. Isn’t that the most lame reason ever heard of?  If Barack Obama never attended that church, would the reverend still be awarded?     Like most people, I wasn’t taken by surprise by the sardonic sarcasm he used in his effort to look smart, his defiant position, his allegory, his poor use of somebody else’s studies (Do you speak American? by Robert MacNeil and William Cran), and surprisingly, his simplistic view of the African American culture and religious tradition.Hewasn’t asking people to take him at face value, but to take him “as is”. He didn’t show to the world anything that we didn’t know … or maybe something, he showed to us that he hasn’t earned the position he is taking right now… if I am wrong, he will use this position to propel himself to a place in history… if I am right, tomorrow nobody is going to remember him… not even his name.