Nothing defines an individual more than a different identity being thrust upon him or her. It is more important than just one moment, and it in the long run might be pivotal for the country. It might convert a leaderless community into one of action — for America’s good..
The massive attention given to the Supreme Court decision on Arizona represents only a part of our passage into the new time we are privileged to witness, although many of us will have to adjust our vision to it, as if entering a room suddenly lit. The intense speculation over the HispanicLatino vote in the presidential race is but another component of the point of no return. Things HispanicLatino have become and will forever be, with growing strength, a part of the national consciousness. The Dream Act. The penetration of the HispanicLatino image into mainstream advertising. The changing demography. Unending elections and perennial electoral calculations. All are real departure points rooted in change but now intensified by the necessity of HispanicLatinos to prove their citizenship by showing their papers until the last remaining part of Arizona is declared unconstitutional.
The years 2011 and 2012 will go down in history, to when a nation looks back and marks the time the country officially entered the next chapter of its life. Oh, other events were deemed great in this period. U.S. troops took down the great terrorist, Osama Bin Laden. Death took Steve Jobs, an icon of the new epoch. A general election took $2 billion – $2 billion! – to resolve as a result of a Court truly off base that celebrates corporations instead of individuals.
But during the long swath of history yet before the nation – when it will either catch itself and stop its drift or settle for modest importance among the nations of the world — the HispanicLatino moment will intensify.
The swelling importance of the HispanicLatino community – at last reflected by the networks of national communications – is externally directed, that is to say, it is being defined in ways that most HispanicLatinos never intended. Some HispanicLatinos are only now coming to realize that they are looked upon as one, massive presence by too many Americans. However simplistic and uninformed, this view could become the most powerful force yet to define our history, for it unintentionally motivates HispanicLatinos to identify themselves as more HispanicLatino than would be otherwise the case.
HispanicLatinos during six decades have returned to where they started when they began their modern population boom. In 1960 and 1964, when they are thought to have represented only 4 percent of the population, they almost surely voted in excess of 70 percent for John Kennedy and then Lyndon Johnson. In 2012, their support for President Obama might push up against if not exceed 70 percent when they consist more than 16 percent of the population. However diverse HispanicLatinos might be, they are more in number and more politically cohesive than most people appreciate. Viewing them as a separate experience is nonsensical – although while cast within the American context the HispanicLatino story will be different, influenced by events in Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, Indiana and Texas, with more states and localities ready — unknowingly — to cause more cultural awareness among HispanicLatinos than they ever wished for themselves. How fraught with paradox is history!
This writer thinks and writes in English but his reality, long intruded upon by the different culture around him, now is fored by others to see himself and the world differently, perhaps as it really is.
Whatever one wants to label this moment, it represents a hopeful time in which HispanicLatinos – fairly unified politically – might be amenable to leadership that can accelerate the economic and social and political progress they must make in order to help save America, in real time, from the stark fiscal challenges just around the corner. Arizona, surprisingly, might help in that regard. Arizona’s is a racial law whose negativity ironically might sow promise. Coupled with geography, demography and cultural iconography, whose combined impact we should convert into a positive force for good, Arizona might be a starting point of a new Phoenix.
The implications are all-important. America is the world’s most essential country. It is not inherently special. It is not intrinsically exceptional. But It is vitally critical, and would be more so if it is able to help maintain itself so that it can lead the world to face its next great challenge. The earth’s climate is at stake and the very life of humankind is in question.
So grand a vision overwhelms people, including many HispanicLatinos whose dreams were kept small and whose views of the world often extended but a few blocks down the street.
For people who are being asked to show their papers at any moment, they have to show the world something else, the most important being that they are perhaps ready to be led.