Sunday, October 19, 2008

Latinos United (my response to the Jena protests)
The recent events in Jena, Louisiana have touched my heart in how the internet can be used as a positive tool for great change. As many as 60,000 African-Americans bussed themselves in from all over this great, free country and marched peacefully to protest an injustice to these 6 young men that were grossly over-punished for a crime that for many in Miami are left scratching their heads, it was just a school fight. "I've seen at least 20 in my lifetime and no one ever was arrested for it much lest given years of jail time for it. But in a small town like Jena where racial tensions have been at a boiling point for years, this was a logical result of the judicial system trying to make an example of a few to benefit many. Only problem is the "many" in this case were the white, American majority of this town vastly outnumbered the African-Americans. The problem was simple; the punishment of these boys did not match their crimes. Thanks to the efforts of civil rights leaders such as the reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson this problem was taken on full-force as an injustice that could not be ignored. Too many young African Americans are incarcerated in this country and when comparing apples to apples with their crimes, the statistics support that African Americans get longer sentences than a white citizen committing the same crime.
The protests were a huge statement to where the black civil rights movement has evolved, thus far. It was an extremely well organized, civilized and just affair, so much so that it seemed that America breathed a sigh of relief that no violence of any kind occurred. They were there to make a statement, that they cannot allow this injustice to be inflicted upon their people any longer, that this injustice of unfair handing down of the law and imprisoning of their young cannot continue, even in the most remote of small towns with their age-old cultures of prejudice, barely beginning to shrug off their silent policy of racism. They organized en-masse via the wonderful world of the internet. In these days of Nightline's to catch a Predator and yellow journalists touting the dangers of the internet to prevent our children from becoming victims, isn't it wonderful to see how it can be used as a tool to bring people together to make a change for the better and effect politics in this country.
After admiring this show of support for their brethren from schools, churches and communities across the country, I thought to myself where are my people's leaders' fighting to save Latinos or Hispanics from injustices suffered? Where is our Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson? Where is our champion for Latino rights and justice? Who do we have leading our fight for equal and just treatment in this home of the free? We are the fastest growing minority population in the United States and even larger in population than the Black community. Census counts us as 42.7 million strong versus 39.7 African Americans.

So what's our problem you ask? Well for one, we haven't been as grossly and obviously mistreated as black americans. Also, a lot of us fly under the radar whereby we can meld in the society because a lot of Latinos are light-skinned. With the right clothes and education, we don't really suffer the limitations they have. Another reason is, well we are not united. We don't consider ourselves united under one continent or country. We are Mexican, Caribbean, Central American, South American, Argentinean (because Argentineans don't even consider themselves South Americans) and even Spanish all divided by competition and quiet criticism of each other's faults inherent to each country still struggling for an American style of stability. We can't even agree on what to call ourselves, do we like to be called Hispanics or Latinos? The debate still goes on. At least the African-Americans were able to settle on one name, we still haven't gotten that down yet. So what injustices should we be fighting, you may ask? Well, being a son of a Cuban American family who were lucky enough to be given political asylum without issue, I would say the number one injustice in this country inflicted upon Latinos or Hispanics (take your pick) is that we are allowing our brethren to live as what I call "shadow people", working ridiculous hours, doing labor not even the African Americans are willing to take on anymore, getting robbed of overtime because employers know they are illegal, getting robbed at check cashing establishments because they can't open bank accounts, dying alone because they can't afford to pay for doctor visits or medicine, getting deported after years of working and scraping by only to start all over again to immigrate out of their impossible economies and corrupt governments.
The problem is now 12 million people large. About the only thing lawmakers can agree on is that something must be done what that something is so far has not been defined. Out of all of George Bush's mistakes, I would say his one good idea has been immigration reform. Albeit, I doubt his intentions were purely to help. I'm sure the new added tax revenue plus the $5,000 fee per head from these 12 million new legal residents will come in handy for his wars and healthy penchant for over-spending us into the largest debt the country has ever seen. These 12 million shadow people can actually help the country in the way of paying taxes, injecting the economy with revenue. Most agree that deportation of the 12 million is a logistical impossibility and while all of them are not Latin but a large portion of them are. How wonderful would it be if a group of united Latinos could rise up and help our government define what can be done to resolve one of the greatest problems of our generation? I propose this website and organization to be called and its head should be a moderate, intelligent and ethnically sensitive Latino with a strong motivation to unite our people, a modern day Cesar Chavez, a true American hero. For those who have never heard of Cesar; he was a civil rights, Latino, farm worker, and labor leader; a religious and spiritual figure; a community servant and social entrepreneur; a crusader for nonviolent social change; and an environmentalist and consumer advocate. A second-generation American, Cesar was born on March 31, 1927 and died in 1993. His legacy lives on in his foundation and his wife carries on his efforts to this day. We need a new figurehead to bring us all together with a common cause, inspiring us to forget our slight cultural differences and push us to focus on a single purpose.
Granted, there are many obstacles to overcome in order for these "Latinos" to unite and form a common front. The most obvious being that many have been raised in the colonial system or what I call "caste system" in which the ones that have will always have and the ones that don't will never have because that is their place. I, being of the generation X, believe in the internet and the power of now. It is the year 2007, vamos mi gente vamos a unirnos para mejorarnos todos! Maybe one day our country's can all unite to form the LU or Latino Union? Wouldn't that be something! There I said it! Now someone please start an orderly, civilized revolution!,1,4794853.story

Below are some websites of smaller organizations that have started this process. ( has already been taken but .com hasn't, so there's still time)

No comments: