The unintended consequences of the black-white divide in the United States is the fruition of Simon Bolivar’s vision of a United States of Latin America. A new generation of Latinos who are technologically savvy and proud of their parent’s national heritage is creating a new path toward the political unification of Latinos in the country.
On college campuses, the rise of transnational-Latino fraternities and sororities is a relatively new phenomenon. In the 1950s, Puerto Ricans would organize social clubs based on the towns they were from in the island, such as a Santurce social club and so on. In contrast, the modern fraternal organizations are only indicative of the networks being formed and the need to become transnational because of this new political and social necessity in the United States.
Why would someone like Chicago Rep. Luis Gutierrez, born in Puerto Rico with U.S. citizenship as a birth right, become a national leader on immigration reform? Directly and indirectly he realizes that immigration issues shape and impact the perception and political opinions toward the Latino community as a whole. It’s not likely, for instance, that the average U.S. white or black person make any distinctions between Latino nationalities, unless they have spent some time abroad.
The conversation of Latino racial diversity is taking place both within and outside the transnational-Latino community. Professional sports are becoming a showcase of this diversity, when you have the likes of New York Giant’s Victor Cruz, an Afro-Puerto Rican, dancing salsa in the Super Bowl after scoring a touchdown in deference to his Puerto Rican heritage. At that moment, salsa became as “American as apple pie.”
The true underlying sentiment, however, that Latinos are taking jobs from African Americans is a serious political issue in economic times when there are less and less jobs.
Torii Hunter, an African-American baseball player with the Los Angeles Dodgers, made a comment about black ballplayers from Latin America not really being “black.” Mr. Hunter later apologized, saying, “What troubles me most was the word ‘impostors’ appearing in reference to Latin American players not being black players.”
Rev. Al Sharpton is politically astute enough to take very public positions on issues directly impacting Latinos. Sharpton participated in the demonstrations in Arizona against the anti-Mexican law, SB 1070, directed at illegal aliens. Similarly, New York Rep. Jose Serrano also made public statements about Trayvon Martin, an African-American teenager who was killed in a confrontation with an overzealous neighborhood watchman. The Latino show of solidarity is a critical message that must be sent, especially since the watchman is partly Latino of Peruvian descent.
Within the Latino community, the trend toward social media is becoming more powerful with the overnight growth of websites such as Being Latino, which caters to a transnational-Latino audience in English. Buying decisions such as vacation locations, technology purchases, home purchasing and family outings with the little ones are also areas that will change. Go to Disney World and the “Being Latino Mousketeers” are everywhere!
Christopher Rodriguez is a graduate of Wesleyan University and a father of three grown children, and the author of the “Latino Manifesto: A Critique of the Race Debate in the U.S. Latino Community.” He has appeared on many radio and television programs in the Washington Metropolitan area addressing the issue of race in the Latino community.