Diversity is no longer an operative word for knowledgeable and informed HispanicLatinos conversing and thinking seriously about the future. Unity is by far more suitable for the times. It speaks to the strategic importance of a population that has gained critical geographic and demographic mass. A microcosm of the kind of collaboration that geography and demography will extract naturally from HispanicLatinos is the daily operations of the country’s Spanish-language television networks. Every day of the year, HispanicLatino professionals from all corners of the HispanicLatino world produce programming developed and managed by staffs whose primary language of interest might be Spanish derived from different countries of origin but whose language in the control room is likely English.
Aided by a new demography and a resilient geography while Spanish-language television and radio networks expand in more markets while English media distribute both positive and negative messages that bolster its identity, a HispanicLatino population that is allegedly a loose conglomeration of groups competing against each other is unlikely to succumb to expansive division over the long term.
While only an example, the English-Spanish paradigm evident in television production will continue to extend to many more sectors of the economy, calling, of course, on HispanicLatinos to maintain, improve or acquire both Spanish and English to an effective level.
Nothing explains the current economic standing of the HispanicLatino community more than their misuse or abuse of the Spanish language or their lack of knowledge of English beyond the need to minimally exist. Real and unimagined personal insecurity gnaws within an English-dominant or Spanish-dominant HispanicLatino when he or she is placed in social situations that require effective communication in the opposite language. These moments of insecurity feed other feelings of inadequacy that douse the creative spirit and stunt the growth and potential of good and talented human beings.
The challenge of language is a bar more HispanicLatinos need to clear. Individuals who might not be able to express themselves in both languages effectively will fall short of their productive potential. It is painful indeed when a HispanicLatino cannot communicate in either language – as it is when younger Anglos can speak Spanish more effectively than their HispanicLatino counterparts. I speak from personal experience.
A HispanicLatino deficient in either language in the age of the new demography is incomplete for times that call for workers with greater, not fewer, personal and professional abilities and tools. Perhaps Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s appointment to the Supreme Court is a case in point. It is hard to imagine any HispanicLatino in the country – whatever their personal backgrounds and however different the intensity of their cultural histories – not being elated at the news of the selection of an exemplary Puerto Rican jurist as the first HispanicLatino appointment to the highest court that interprets the Constitution for the whole country. And, indeed, the new associate justice is adamantly bilingual – and a complete professional.
HispanicLatinos can and should view such important developments through their own cultural prisms that do not require them to forget their native lands in order to be full Americans. Active memories of the past nourish the beginnings of another, different kind of life in the present. If HispanicLatinos do forget who they are, they shortchange themselves. Denial of self dilutes personal growth. A new philosophy of community and self-acknowledgement of unity through language can guide HispanicLatinos to create a new age.
HispanicLatinos are a gift to America as much as they are gifts to each other. But they cannot be so diverse as to make their lives adverse.
Feel free to forward these blogs adapted from previous writings, with additional thoughts published invariably in between.