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

Monday, December 6, 2010

Latino Diversity is an Asset

Immigration hardliners in areas with large Latino populations (Tom Tancredo in Colorado, Sharon Angle in Nevada and Meg Whitman in California) were all handily defeated in the last election. The less-than-subtle xenophobia of these demagogues were a powerful motivator for a unified Latino turnout at the polls.

At the same time, if the Latino vote is perceived as monolithically Democratic, it will be easier for conservatives to marginalize (and demonize) us in areas where the Latino vote is not a plurality. Personally, I do not support the positions of Marco Rubio, Brian Sandoval and Susana Martinez. But in the long run, the election of these Republican Latinos may help bridge the dangerously growing gap between the Latino community and the mainstream population. (For example, support for Arizona’s SB 1070 is sharply divided along ethnic lines.)

Nativist demagogues prey of public fears of Latinos as a faceless, alien group that threatens Anglo primacy. Showing the true diversity of the disparate collection of people who make up the Latino communities across the entire United States helps dispel this noxious nativist myth. Just as in the United States as a whole, the diversity of the Latino community is an asset which can help us move together toward common goals such as immigration reform and raising the educational standards of our youth.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez