Tag: La Raza

The Future’s Uncertain

I recently waxed ecstatic about California, the state I live in. I do indeed love living here, but I never claimed that it was perfect.

For example, a recent report shows that when it comes to Latinos, my state has some issues. And those issues are reciprocal, in that as Latinos go, so goes California.

You see, the study has found that among all racial and ethnic groups in California, Hispanics have the lowest well-being score. What, exactly, does that mean?

Well, rather than just look at a group’s median income or rate of cancer or percentage of sunny dispositions or collective weight or any of the other statistics that offer us interesting but isolated insights into a demographic’s existence, these researchers created an overall well-being score.

The number is based on a group’s overall health, educational level, earnings, and other factors, all put together. Think of it as a GPA rather than an individual grade.

Well, measured on a 10-point scale, Latinos had a well-being score of 4.09. That’s bad.

thumbsdown
I mean, would you want to date someone who was barely a 4 out of 10? Now imagine an entire group struggling under that number.

For the sake of comparison, Asian Americans had the highest score at 7.39. Whites and blacks were in between but noticeably better than Hispanics.

Digging a little deeper, the researchers found that native-born Latinos fared better than immigrants did. But by any measure, California’s Hispanics are far from thriving.

That’s terrible news, of course. But it goes beyond dark days just for la raza.

Hispanics are poised to become the state’s largest ethnic group, and more than half of California’s children are Latino. It doesn’t take much of an imagination to see that the study’s results could be ominous for the state’s future. With such a large percentage of the population struggling, the whole state will be dragged down.

The study’s authors conclude that California needs to improve the well-being of Latinos if the state hopes to thrive.

Well… yeah.

But there is some good news. While Latinos have the lowest well-being score, they’ve made great strides since 2000, and they’re moving up more quickly than any other group.

So at least we have forward momentum on our side. With hope, that will be enough to keep Cali golden.

 


The Unbearable Whiteness

You may be surprised to know that Latinos can change their race at will. Oh sure, for most people, race is a fixed attribute that was determined at the moment of conception. But Hispanics, unlike mere normal humans, can just go snap, and presto we’ve changed our race.

It’s kind of like Mystique, except we’re not naked all the time.

mystique

The proof of this superpower is in a recent New York Times article, which stated that between the 2000 and 2010 censuses, 2.5 million Americans who said they were Hispanic and “some other race” changed their minds and declared themselves to be Hispanic and white.

This was the largest shift in racial classification among Americans, and it provides, according to the Times, “new evidence consistent with the theory that Hispanics may assimilate as white Americans, like the Italians or Irish, who were not universally considered to be white.”

The data, supplied by the Pew Research Center, is “particularly significant” because “the shift toward white identification withstood a decade of debate over immigration and the country’s exploding Hispanic population, which might have been expected to inculcate or reinforce a sense of Hispanic identity, or draw attention to divisions that remain between Hispanics and non-Hispanic white Americans.”

Basically, it implies that many Latinos are saying, “Enough with the la raza talk. Consider me white.”

Now, some commentators have called shenanigans on this whole story. Indeed, it is quite a leap to glance at some raw numbers and make the sociopolitical conclusion that America may not be “destined to become a so-called minority-majority nation, where whites represent a minority of the nation’s population.” That’s because those predictions “assume that Hispanics aren’t white, but if Hispanics ultimately identify as white Americans, then whites will remain the majority for the foreseeable future.”

Let’s assume for the sake of argument, however, that the numbers reveal something profound about American culture and its future. Namely, that Latinos face “pressure — and the growing opportunity — to blend into society and to identify with the majority.”

Of course, this is a familiar phenomenon. Since this country’s founding, white people have held the vast majority of the political, economic, and cultural power. As such, it makes sense that Americans today “go on unthinkingly treating whiteness as the ideal and social baseline of American life.”

Indeed, there are very real advantages to being white — even if you’re not traditionally white. For example, Hispanics who see themselves as white tend to have higher levels of education and income, and they are less likely to have experienced discrimination.

Now, as we all know, Latinos can be of any race. There are your traditional brown-skinned Hispanics, black Brazilians, blue-eyed blond Argentineans, and just about every hue and texture in between.

As such, it’s no surprise that Hispanics have forged “a cross-cutting identity that can feel like a racial category (shorthanded as ‘brown’) that is sometimes set beside the other major blocs of America’s racial color grid.”

With our place on this mystical grid so amorphous, Latinos are often free to move outside the boundaries, which other ethnicities have trouble doing. Of course, this “fluidity may suggest a lot of things, including a pattern of Hispanic assimilation into whiteness.” And, according to the Times, “white identification may be an indicator of assimilation,” which is a potentially alarming statement.

After all, doesn’t that imply that real Americans are white?

I’ll have more on this in a subsequent post, but I will leave you to ponder that inflammatory question for now.

 


Special

Remember that commencement speaker in Massachusetts? He told graduating students, “None of you is special. You are not special. You are not exceptional.”

The internet was ablaze with comments, most of them positively gleeful. Many people believe that the speaker revealed harsh truths and deflated the younger generation’s supersized egos.

Of course, a lot of the adults who cheered the speech are unhappy with how their own lives turned out, which is why they got off on a guy sticking it to a captive audience of teenagers. In any case, the graduates who most needed to hear such a message (i.e., the arrogant, haughty ones) are the kids most likely to dismiss it. When he was done, they flipped open their cell phones and said, “Some bitter old man tried to step on our day. Whatever, loser.”

To continue reading this post, please click here.

 


Who Can Tell?

Recently, I wrote a post that received more, shall we say…passionate comments than usual. The article was about the Kansas politician who cracked the truly hilarious, knee-slapping joke about gunning down undocumented people like vermin.

In any case, among the hundreds of comments were people who said I was right, people who said I was wrong, and people who said I was a race-baiting hatemonger bent on destroying America.

And of course, there were the predictable, and rather sad comments of “Why can’t we all just love one another?” I assume that such individuals were issuing a plea for racial harmony that has eluded humankind for millennia. Well, it’s either that or they were using “love” as a euphemism while trying to organize an intercontinental orgy, and they stumbled into the wrong forum.

But of all the comments, one in particular caught my eye. The comment was, “My in-laws came from Mexico, and now just a generation later, they are fully assimilated and blend in. Except for being a little darker, you would never know where they were from.”

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Kiss and Make Up

I’ve written before about the Republican Party’s image problem with Hispanics. For the most part, conservatives are content to appear as unappetizing as possible to Latino voters. It’s almost as if the GOP is saying, “We’re not really a bunch of redneck nativists who despise your culture, but you’ll just have to take our word on that. Now, who’s up for some stereotyping and deportations?

Perhaps many Republicans are afraid of offending their hardcore base, which is, let’s face it, not the most open-minded group. Or maybe conservatives were heartened by their “shellacking” of the Democrats in the midterms. Or possibly they’re feeling no pressure because U.S. Census figures indicate that red states are growing much faster than blue ones.

But wait — upon closer inspection, maybe that last one isn’t so uplifting to conservatives after all. As Fox News Latino points out, “the irony is that many of these growth centers … are the beneficiaries of population growth due in large part of immigration and brisk Latino birthrates.” In other words, one reason that the red states are bursting is because Hispanics are moving in. As such, these states have “a strong Republican Party presence, and an increasingly unsympathetic Latino electorate to counter that party’s influence.”

So if anything, conservatives should be bending over backwards to attract Latino support. At least a few Republicans know this.

Among them is our old friend Newt Gingrich (!), who recently admitted the truth about immigration reform when he said, “We are not going to deport 11 million people. There has to be some zone between deportation and amnesty.”

Gingrich’s surprising statement got the Washington Post’s attention. The newspaper opined that “making nice with Hispanics has become an incipient Republican cottage industry” and expressed “hope it grows enough to shut down the hateful rhetoric and demonizing of Latinos by too many Republicans in recent years.”

Well, let’s not get carried away. As the Post makes clear, nativists “have cowed the Republican Party with a message of rejection and hate that most Latinos take personally.”

And here is where the GOP fails to understand a basic truth: Slamming immigrants doesn’t just offend undocumented people. It also pisses off Latino citizens, many of whom are naturalized immigrants, have family members who recently arrived here, or just don’t like to see people who look like them get blamed for everything.

Indeed, as the National Council of La Raza states, the recent elections brought to power “some of the most extreme members of the House who are going to be the calling card of the Republican Party to Latinos.” This doesn’t really help conservatives, who “need to rebuild their relationships with Latinos.”

Still, it’s not all bad news for the GOP when it comes to Hispanics. There is one group of Latinos who are positively giddy about a significant part of the Republican platform. Unfortunately, these Hispanics are not citizens, or even residents.

It seems that the GOP insistence on making guns readily available is a big hit with Mexican drug cartels. Yes, although the right to carry a firearm is supposed to deter crime, the truth is that “Mexico’s most violent drug cartels are exploiting U.S. guns laws to acquire massive quantities of assault rifles and other firearms for use in their war.”

Ouch — somehow I doubt this fact will help win over Latinos in 2012.


In Jeopardy

I recently wrote about the study in “Freakonomics” that showed white contestants on game shows were more likely to discriminate against Latinos than against blacks. The more I’ve thought about this study, the more that it begins to make sense to me.

You see, over the past decade or so, I’ve tried out for several game shows – not because I have any desire to appear excitable on television, but because I’d like the cash. It helps that I have an affinity for trivia. Really, you would want me on your team on quiz night at the bar, because I know a lot of useless shit.

Now, when it comes to the tryouts, I’ve always passed the written or online test (by the way, the “Jeopardy” one is a bitch). But the follow-up, the in-person interviews have gone about as well as a blind date between Condoleezza Rice and Michael Moore. Not once have I been called back to appear on the numerous shows on which, according to the test results at least, I would theoretically kick ass.

When I first started trying out, I figured that my rejections were because a long-haired guy in his twenties was too odd for primetime. Even after my look became more, shall we say, conservative, however, I failed to make the cut. So I presumed that I was just too stoic or reserved for tv.

But now I have proof. I’ve seen guys mellower than me on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” I’ve watched as contestants have floundered over gimme questions like “Who is the only U.S. president to earn a PhD?” (Woodrow Wilson, but you knew that already).

I mean, some people have come across as truly thick-headed:

Yes, I’ve had it. The next time I try out for a show, I’m informing the interviewer that this one goes out to La Raza.

That should work.


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