Friday, October 24, 2014

Guest Blogger: Alfredo Estrada “Here We Go Again”

Alfredo Estrada 2We’ve seen this movie before. Many of us at LATINO Magazine worked at HISPANIC, launched in 1988 during the so-called “Decade of the Hispanic.” It certainly wasn’t, and no one would make the same claim of the naughty ’90s and double-barreled ’00s. But here we go again…

Latinos (not Hispanics!) were the decisive factor in the last election, voting 71%  for President Obama and handing him victory in swing states like Florida, Colorado and Nevada. Even an adversary as staunch as Fox News CEO Roger Ailes declared that “the contributions made by Latinos are extraordinary.” It appeared that we finally “arrived,” and the coffers of corporate America and the federal government would soon fly open. But to paraphrase another catchphrase from the ’80s, “Where’s the menudo?”

As the next issue of LATINO goes to press, Obama has yet to name any Latinos to his cabinet after the departures of Hilda Solis and Ken Salazar. Elsewhere in the government, the percentage of Latinos remains dismally low, barely 8 percent, as compared to over 13 percent in the national workforce. And though we escaped the fiscal cliff, we’re falling into the sequestration snakepit—fiscal havoc has sharply curtailed government spending on Latino outreach and educational programs.

While there’s been some noise about immigration reform, all we’ve seen is a rehash of the same stale ideas like the need for “border security,” although there’s been no migration from Mexico to the U.S. in the last five years due to our flagging economy. The proposed “path to citizenship”  is more like an obstacle course that could take as long as 8 years (good luck with that, amigo!)  And while Romney urged us to self-deport, Obama is happy to lend a helping hand. By the end of this year, the president  will have deported 2,000,000 Latinos, nearly the same  number as in the U.S. from 1892 to 1997, according to the New York Times. Over 200,000 of those were the parents of children who are U.S. citizens. This has injured innocents, separated families, and derailed dreams. It appears that even if we have arrived, we better leave fast!

With political power comes purchasing power, so you might think that corporate America would be eager to engage Latinos. But this, too, has lagged behind. At no time in recent memory has corporate support for programs that benefit our community been as fragile. One example is the lack of support for Latino-owned media. Throughout the late ’80s and ’90s, both HISPANIC and its fierce competitor Hispanic Business published monthly. HISPANIC was sold to Televisa, which shuttered it last year. Hispanic Business no longer publishes a print edition. The result is a glaring lack of coverage from a Latino perspective of the issues that affect our community.

Who can we blame but ourselves? Many of us in the “cucaracha circuit” here in our nation’s capital seem more interested in lurid scandals like Senator Menendez’ weekends in the Dominican Republic than our representation in the administration or immigration reform. We should be unified in outrage, yet we’re competing for complacency. We should be bringing more people to the table, yet we’re fighting for the crumbs left behind. We should be making demands, yet we’re wasting time on the latest self-serving, politically correct initiative. We should be marching in the street, yet we’re  on the sidewalk, waiting in line for the next rubber chicken enchilada dinner.

Assuming we sit through it, how does the movie end? The one from the ’80s just went on and on, with innumerable remakes, like Halloween.  But crankiness is rarely constructive, and it’s more useful to view this as a test that we will either pass or fail.  If Latinos are truly to be a “community” rather than just Census figures, then we have to show leadership.  If we’re going to move forward,  then we have to fight for what we want.  And if we want our place at the table, then we have to take it. Because if we fail to take advantage of this opportunity, we’re unlikely to get another one for quite some time.  It’s up to us.

This challenge is the theme of the upcoming Spring 2013 issue of LATINO Magazine.  It will include the LATINO 100, our first annual listing of the companies providing the most opportunities for Latinos, as well as a look at some of the top Latino lobbyists in our nation’s capital, and an essay by Ruben Navarrette on Republican soul-searching in the wake of the election. Plus opinions and commentary by Rita Jaramillo, Mickey Ibarra, Sara Martinez Tucker, Rocky Egusquiza, Arturo Vargas, Wendy Cervantes and much more.

To order a free copy of the next issue of LATINO Magazine, please visit http://www.latinomagazine.com/feedback.htm or contact Evelyn Castillo at evelyn@latinometro.com.

Alfredo Estrada is the editor of LATINO Magazine, which focuses on issues, politics and culture and is available online at Latinomagazine.com. His latest book is Havana: Autobiography of a City (Palgrave, 2009). If you have any comments, please contact him at ajestrada@latinomagazine.com.

Comments

  1. Thanks for venting and pointing this out! I’ve been raging and rambling along similar lines for years as well, especially on the Decade of the Latino. I loved the rubber chicken enchilada comment- I elaborate a little more (usually with madrazos) and refer to the golf clapping polite pendejadas that so many are content in nodding with in agreement. Lapdogs love scraps.

    We should demand more of all things. Especially ourselves.

    While working with young Dreamers recently, a colleague took me aside and mentioned that they were coming off with a feeling of entitlement. Too pushy, demanding. I looked at him and said “you mean they sound American?” I also commented that any 2 or 3 of these young people had more huevos than anyone on the chapter of the Hispanic Chamber he belonged to.

    I enjoyed this post. Gracias. And thanks for the Cucaracha Circuit – Brilliantly put.

  2. LA META SUPREMA ES EL BIEN DEL PUEBLO: Very well put, Alfredo! Now if we can all pull together to create the foundation for a national Latino agenda to ensure equality in education and economic development—regardless of party affiliation or loyalties—our community would be in a position to leverage its collective power as the fastest growing U.S. consumers, employees, students, taxpayers, and voters to insure the continued success of the world’s premiere example of a true democracy. ¡Si se puede!

  3. Elizabeth S. Gonzales says:

    Buen dicho Alfredo!! We can only hope we have many many listeners. It’s definately our time.
    Un fuerte abrazo, Elizabeth

  4. Right on, Alfredo! I see many Latinos getting left out of the loop in the growing and important local food movement – why aren’t we part of this? It’s not because the white man is keeping us out. We’re just too busy fawning over fast food corporate brands. With diabetes on the rise in the Latino community, it’s more critical than ever for us to be be promoting a healthy and sustainable way of eating!

  5. Dalia Almanza-Smith says:

    Great, great blog Alfredo. And thanks for having the courage to speak up and point out our communities unwillingness to stand up for ourselves. I agree, I don’t think the stars will align like this for Latinos in quite some time. One thing I have learned for sure is that you have to strike while the iron is hot because circumstances surrounding an issues can change so quickly. Now is our time. We have to have the courage to speak out and leverage our power. If we don’t, you can bet NO ONE else will.