Tag: Generation X

Not Exactly a Golden Age

So here’s a question: Are you among the half of Americans (49 percent, to be precise) who say racism is “a big problem” in society today?

I know I am.

And I also know that I would prefer to be among the 7 percent of Americans who say racism is “not a problem at all.” When referring to those people, I speak for the rest of us when I say, “I’ll have what they’re having,” because they clearly possess some serious alcohol.

Drunk-guy

The recent survey revealed that prejudice and bigotry remain societal ills, and “in every demographic group surveyed, there are increasing percentages of people who say racism is a big problem — and majorities say that racial tensions are on the rise.”

The percentage of Americans who feel this way is higher than it was 20 years ago, when 41 percent said racism was a big problem. As recently as 2011, that percentage was down to 28 percent, suggesting a rebound effect, or perhaps racial good feelings simply plateaued a few years back.

Of course, Americans may agree that racism is worse, but as the report states, they often “disagree profoundly on who the targets and victims are.”

Ethnic minorities have historically been the objects of racial prejudice. However, white Americans often feel that they are being discriminated against, a perplexing development that, according to the report, can be traced to “simmering rage fueled by the backlash of Obama’s election, the economic struggles of lower- and middle-income whites, and demographic shifts across the country.”

Because of this, the report says, “latent racism is becoming more open, because a lot of people are feeling threatened.”

Now to be clear, most white Americans do not feel that they are the targets of racial scorn. In fact, just 43 percent of white people say racism is a huge concern.

But 64 percent of my fellow Latinos say racism is a big problem, slightly less than the 66 percent of blacks who say the same thing.

Those numbers should tell you all you need to know about how race is perceived in America.

So is there hope for the future? Well, supposedly, the Millennials were going to eliminate racism once and for all because they’re all, you know, ethnically mixed and down with diversity and come from multiracial families, and are in general far hipper than Gen X or the Baby Boomers could ever dream of being.

Um…but another recent study showed that “despite the Millennial reputation for inclusiveness, young white Americans don’t have especially multicultural friend groups.” In fact, two-thirds (68 percent) of whites age 18-34 say, “they overwhelmingly associate with other whites.”

By the way, the same is true of just 37 percent of Millennial Hispanics and 36 percent of Millennial blacks.

So this might take a while.

 


Bike Helmets?

As you know, this site is devoted to all things Hispanic. But occasionally, I change gears and write about topics that are only tangentially related to Latino culture.

That’s the case with my latest article for the Huffington Post. Basically, it’s all about how Generation X (of which I am a member) has been screwed over so many times that we impervious to life’s injustices. Oh, and I also say something about bike helmets too.

bike-helmet-child

Anyway, here it is.

 


All Issues Mailed Flat

When I was a kid, I had a tower (and I mean that literally) of my favorite comic books. They leaned against the wall and were braced on either side by sturdy objects — milk crates or chairs or something like that. I seem to recall that the tower reached the ceiling, but I’m sure that’s not possible. It was most likely a few feet high and just seemed imposing to a six-year-old.

In any case, the tower is long gone, but I still have a few of those prized comics, issues of the X-Men and Conan the Barbarian and House of Secrets and the like. Like a lot of Gen Xers, I used comic books as a gateway drug to novels.

But even back in the day, when my love for comic books could not be quantified, I noticed something. It’s the same thing that Javier Hernandez, creator of the El Muerto comic book, noticed.

Hernandez says, “There is one thing I didn’t see in those books. I didn’t see me in there. I didn’t see us, Latinos.”

Nope, there were very few Hispanic characters or stories presented. However, a new generation of writers is looking to Latino culture for inspiration. It’s a full-fledged trend, illustrated by the fact that the Latino Comics Expo was held recently to spotlight Hispanic creators like Hernandez. His creation is a Hispanic hero based on a combination of Aztec mythology and Mexican folklore. I mean, how cool is that?

el muerto

Now, as we all know, comic books often feature thematic elements that appeal to teenagers and/or geeky middle-aged men. These include stories of heroes like the Jonah Hex and Spider-Man, who were outsiders to mainstream culture. It’s not much a stretch to say that Latinos have long appreciated the theme of being a misunderstood minority.

And now that metaphorical subtext is a little more concrete. Comic books from Hispanic authors range from traditional superhero formats to experimental stories to reality-based tales, such as the life of a Latino punk fan growing up in California.

Personally, I’m waiting for a Hispanic version of Wolverine. Now that would be something.


The Beaten Generation

Yes, I’m a proud member of Gen X, in all it’s cynical, world-weary, Nevermind glory.

nevermind

However, Gen X is being pushed off the stage by those pesky Millennials. And what do these interlopers look like (particularly the Hispanic ones)?

Well, Latinos age 18 to 34 are focusing on getting themselves educated. However, they are not so interested in setting up their own homes.

These insights come from a recent study that found Millennial Hispanics “are almost 20% more likely than non-Hispanic whites in the same age group to reside in a multigenerational household.” That means more young Latinos are stuck living with mom and dad. They’re also getting married later. About a third of “Hispanic young adults today are married — down 17% since 2008.”

But they are going to college. Almost half (49%) of Hispanics 18-24 are enrolled in college, and this is “a higher enrollment rate than non-Hispanic whites (47%).”

So if Gen X Hispanics must make way for Millennial Latinos, at least we know they will be well educated. Now if they could just get out of their parents’ basements.

 


Back in My Day

As I’ve mentioned before, I recently became a father. My wife and I were having one of those most natural of conversations, which was discussing what kind of person our son will grow up to be.

Somehow, we got into a “those kids today” rant about how cushy the Millennials have it. After all, my wife and I are Gen X, so we didn’t have the internet, iPods, and bike helmets. We didn’t have parents chauffeuring us around to special events geared just for our age group, nor did we have culturally enriching programs that told us how special we were. And of course, there was never the option of living with mom and dad indefinitely.

Yes, after talking about our childhoods, my wife and I were feeling pretty good about our toughness and resiliency. Look how cool we are!

gen_x_logo

Then we remembered our parents.

My mother grew up in a third-world Latin American country where she literally walked miles barefoot to school each day. Then she came to America, where she knew nobody and barely spoke the language. As for my wife’s father, he was a child during the Great Depression, and he went to sleep hungry most nights.

Yeah, that shut us up pretty damn quickly.

 


The Great American Melting Pot (?)

You will not catch me dissing “Schoolhouse Rock.”

Like all good Gen Xers, I grew up with the infectious tones of the Saturday morning series permeating my brain. Before I could stop it, “Schoolhouse Rock” told me how a bill becomes a law, informed me that zero is my hero, and explained how an interjection shows excitement or emotion (and starts a sentence right!).

Kids of the last twenty years have matured with a serious gap in their educational and cultural knowledge. Plummeting test scores and rampant student apathy will not end because of laws like No Child Left Behind. For that, we need the immediate return of “Schoolhouse Rock.”

However, despite its emphasis on objective facts and wholesome entertainment, the series thrust itself into controversy on occasion. Well, actually, on just one occasion, and even then only in retrospect.

I’m talking, of course, about the segment titled, “The Great American Melting Pot.” As we celebrate Independence Day, let’s take a look back at this dash of 1970s patriotism set to a soul groove.

One of the lesser known segments of “Schoolhouse Rock,” the segment features a pitch-perfect spokesinger extolling the virtues of immigration (no, really… she does), who then explains how America is a mixture of different races and ethnicities. The singer also belts out uplifting lyrics that praise liberty and the fact that any kid could be president.

Watching it now, however, one has to wonder about the accuracy – and even the appropriateness – of “The Great American Melting Pot.”

Is it a call to racial harmony and an appeal to the common roots that ninety-eight percent of Americans share (i.e., immigrant forefathers?) Or is it a trite, jingoistic anthem created in troubling times that is even less relevant now?

Of course, this isn’t about “Schoolhouse Rock.” The big question is whether the great American melting pot ever existed. And if so, were the perimeters of this ethnic kettle – in reality – confined to Europeans, the occasional Russian, and Jews who changed their last names?

The answer that one gives, and the passion that he or she conveys while giving it, says a lot. What really makes it interesting is that the question doesn’t lend itself to easy left-versus-right debates. Both liberals and conservatives can praise or lambast the melting-pot metaphor, based upon their perspective.

Some liberals love the melting pot for illustrating the quest for equality and the concept that every ethnic group, no matter how recently arrived or troubled, contributes to the American Dream. Or they hate it for its simplistic demand that people drop their customs and heritage to adopt “American ways,” which are inevitably defined by an inflexible majority culture.

Meanwhile, some conservatives grow misty-eyed at the melting pot for enforcing the old up-from-the-bootstraps idea and the supremacy of American society. Or they loath it because it implies that the government should acknowledge languages other than English and that people can’t just shout “Merry Christmas” at everyone.

So which is it? Can the melting pot be both innocent ideal and vile subversion? Is it both inspiring metaphor and insufferable indoctrination?

It shouldn’t be this difficult. We live in a post-racial society, after all… right? We’re supposed to run around yelling, “Hey everybody, it’s the achievement of Martin Luther King’s dream!” But clearly, even looking at thirty-year-old cartoons can prove vexing to that plan. We still struggle with the very idea of what it means to be American. One has to wonder if we will ever come to an answer.

In any case, regardless of your opinion of the segment, and the whole idea of an American melting pot, there is one thing that all Americans can agree upon:

“Conjunction Junction” flat-out rocks.


  • Barrio Imbroglio (An Abraxas Hernandez Mystery Book 1)
  • Calendar

    January 2018
    M T W T F S S
    « Dec    
    1234567
    891011121314
    15161718192021
    22232425262728
    293031  
  • Share this Blog

    Bookmark and Share
  • Copyright © 1996-2010 Hispanic Fanatic. All rights reserved.
    Theme by ACM | Powered by WordPress