News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Hispanics are not a monolithic political bloc. Will mainstream backlash change that?

Contrary to popular belief, people labeled “Hispanic” are not a monolithic bloc. Americans with Spanish surnames come from 16 different Latin American countries and Spain – a group that is quite diverse in politics, economic status, English skills, and race. Imagine taking everyone with the last name "Johnson" and treating them as a unified political or racial group. The same holds true for people with Spanish surnames. They are far from a homogenous group. As Democratic pollster Andre Pineda wrote, "There simply is no one message or one medium that appeals to all Latinos."

However, the growing backlash against illegal immigration is creating an atmosphere of antagonism toward all Hispanics. English-only laws and other backlash legislation, along with the elimination of bi-lingual education and affirmative action programs, could mark the beginning of a widening gulf between Hispanics and the rest of the U.S. population. Even more troubling, news sources have reported a surge in the membership of hate groups like the KuKluxKlan. These supremacist organizations have been using anti-immigrant sentiments as a way to swell their ranks. And many of these hate groups are eager to exploit mainstream fears and provoke ethnic violence.

As a result, Hispanics, who are a diverse and politically splintered group, could band together for self protection. What’s more, the small minority of Hispanic separatists within many Latino community could exploit the fears to further their own agenda – a movement to redraw the borders of the United States. This potential conflict could pose the greatest challenge to U.S. sovereignty since the Civil War.

We must not fall prey to the messages of the hate mongers - on both sides of this volatile issue. For more information on Anglo and Hispanic extremist groups and the danger they pose, please visit my author’s website.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez