At Year’s End, the Enduring HispanicLatino Story

So the year ends and so does this blog on a regular three-times-per-week basis.  In the year that begins tomorrow, change and events will continue to rock our world.  Sadly, television too soon will break into our lives with news of another mass shooting.  The possibility that Israel will launch its already-planned attack on Iran’s nuclear installations becomes probability as each day passes.  By the end of the spring, the fragile economy might have been harassed back into recession by obdurate House Republicans whose political near-sightedness obscures the electoral razor atop their noses.  Still, despite the immediacy of these events, the most transcendental if not outright existential story for the country remains how HispanicLatinos develop socially, economically and politically.  And so from time to time a thought or two on the subject will appear in this same space.

The beginnings of the HispanicLatino storyline appear old already.  The drumbeat of demographic change has become monotony.  Yet the story is just beginning.  The objective of this blog, which began in the late summer of 2011, intended to advance foundational thought and reflection beyond the routine talking point of a Hispanic/Latino population remaking the country.  HispanicLatinos, after all, will prove more important than the next mass shooting or the combined competitive evolution in the near future of the Brazilian, Chinese, Indian and Mexican economies.  HispanicLatinos must succeed for America to survive.

The HispanicLatino phenomenon, though, is not easily captured.  It seems an apparition in slow-motion, though it is not.  Millions of HispanicLatinos are making millions of individual decisions in their lives daily – from diet to debt – that in the long run will be more important than whether the European Union survives.  The composite meaning of those decisions escapes the attention it deserves for many reasons, not the least of which is the slow, drawn-out understanding by HispanicLatinos of their importance to the country.  The failure of the majority of HispanicLatinos to not understand the historic proportion of their existence relative to the rest of the population threatens the country.  It is, in fact, a matter of national security.

Continue reading

Lincoln and the Questions of Our Lives

Are we fitted into the times we are born into?  So asks Abraham Lincoln in the new film that should be required viewing for all – more so for modern-day Republicans than anyone else.  The Lincoln in Lincoln is the dream of any Democrat or Republican.  A nation so divided as ours is today, riven by intense ideological rivalries and regional, sectional differences, could use an individual who commands the respect of all to ask the eternal question we ask of ourselves with often vague success, How and where do we fit?  Lincoln did not ask the more important question that has dogged humankind since it attained the power to reason, What does it all mean?  No, he asked the one that we should be able to answer, for we do have the power to control our lives.  Incumbent in Lincoln’s question is the degree to which each citizen and resident of the United States understands his or her responsibilities.

Continue reading

Petraeus: A Reflection of Our Lack of Prudence and Restraint

Waiting for the circus to unfold this morning as General David Petraeus testifies before closed congressional committees ostensibly looking into the terroristic attack on the American mission in Benghazi, my mind races back years when I got into a drag-out fight in the newsroom I used to help manage.  Two of our reporters, egged on by a clueless line editor originally from out of state with little knowledge of Texas, wanted to do a story on one of the state’s most promising sons.  Our story would have taken him down Petraeus-like – a huge loss for a state that can produce the likes of an indicted John Connally, a discredited George W. Bush, a shameless Phil Gramm and the redoubtable Rick Perry.  Texas also can produce a Lyndon Johnson or an Ann Richards, so it does have the ability to generate the exceptional star, which this man was.

Continue reading

Feels Like It Is Going Obama’s Way

On the weekend before the election, it feels it is going President Obama’s way.  My own sense of how it ends, made earlier this week, is only an educated guess.  The inside-the-Beltway crowd insists the election is a close contest.  The savants in the newspapers and on television assert that the election is a near standoff between an aroused Tea party financed by this century’s version of robber barons and the presumably more sophisticated Obama ground game.  That is a simple narrative that might prove imprecise.  After all, the Tea party derived its sweep in the 2010 midterm elections from a smaller and therefore different electorate.

In 2010, about 91 million people voted – 38 million less than the 129 million who voted in 2008 when Obama won by almost 10 million votes.  It seems it would take less effort among Obama supporters to generate as many Tea party voters.  So the worry about lagging enthusiasm among Obama’s supporters that the pundits fuss over probably is not as appropriate as they surmise.  Obama would have to lose close to 100 percent of his winning 2008 margin and suffer other desertions from his ranks to lose the election – ranks that have grown naturally, too.  It could happen, of course.

Continue reading

Spell my name correctly, willya?

What is the deal with accents?  Some news organizations and networks noticeably have begun to accent the names of individuals, places and things that carry a Spanish spelling.  Some don’t.  ESPN is almost meticulous about it.  PBS not so much.  The New York Times does it; other newspapers – of all news organizations that should – do not.  How Spanish names and words began to lose their accents has itself been lost in time.  Most of the loss, of course, has to do with the disrespect for the language fueled by anti-Spanish sentiment leading up to and after the U.S.-Mexican and U.S.-Spanish wars.  As important was the market of the time.

Now, amid the new demography of the country, seeing a Spanish name in print or on a television screen with an accent stands out as much as seeing the same name the very next day without one.

Continue reading

Not about Sulzberger’s Times, so much as Our Times

Arthur Ochs Sulzberger was a name that almost any journalist who does not work for Fox News would recognize.  Most HispanicLatinos never heard of him.  The former publisher of The New York Times died Saturday.  As soon as family members announced his death, they started receiving the usual praise that accompanies most men at the time of their deaths.  By almost any measure of those who knew him, Sulzberger merited the honors that made their way to his family.  This posting is not about Sulzberger.  It is more about the importance of the period in journalism in which he lived his life and that his family’s newspaper nurtured.  It would be interesting in a few years from now to see what is written about Rupert Murdoch, another influential publisher and Sulzberger’s contemporary.

Continue reading

Manzano So Much More than Navarrette

Where and how does one begin to make sense of what Ruben Navarrette wrote for CNN about Leo Manzano and, by extension, Hispanics/Latinos, be they recent immigrants or descendants from founders of some of the oldest cities in the nation?  To start off, the column Navarrette wrote lambasting the young Olympic runner for raising a Mexican and a U.S. flag to celebrate his silver medal in the 1500-meter race was not about Manzano.  It was about Navarrette.  The object of Navarrette’s anger was not Manzano’s alleged act of disloyalty but something about Navarrette that is not yet settled within his own self.

Navarrette admits as much in the column, which in a way is the most important he has ever written:  “Most Mexican-Americans I know would need a whole team of therapists to sort out their views on culture, national identity, ethnic pride and their relationship with Mother Mexico,” the 55-year-old Navarrette wrote.  And that is the problem.  The problem is not Manzano, who knows who he is and knows what he thinks and who is not going to back down from someone like Navarrette who has not figured himself out at his age and remains incomplete – like many Mexican-Americans and other HispanicLatinos.

Continue reading

What the Queen of England Can Teach Facebook

Facebook stock is now down 45 percent from what its first buyers paid for it.  So if someone bought $10,000 worth of stock it is now worth $5,500.  Yikes. If you start adding zeros to those numbers it becomes real money. I almost dared not open my mouth when in a conversation months ago someone was wondering how to get his hands on some Facebook stock once it became public.  But I could not refrain, though I said merely that he ought to think about it before investing.

Continue reading

Same Sex Marriage Does Not Trump Arizona

Many years ago one of the most influential books ever written shaped my own political identity and my view of the world. Ostensibly about the presidential campaign of 1960, Theodore White’s Pultizer Prize-winning The Making of the President told the story of how John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson survived one of the narrowest presidential victories in the nation’s history.  But more than simply converting a political story into a highly interesting narrative, White wrote revealingly about how political markets are hardly more than consumer markets.  In his eyes, fifty states and the District of Columbia – each one different from the other – comprised 51 political markets with many more submarkets of voters, hundreds in fact.  They still do, if not more so.

Continue reading

HispanicLatino: More Human Drama than New Market

Markets is a word easily thrown about, especially in the changing landscape of television.  One definition of market is the old trying to catch up to the new – and to the news, perhaps.  In the roiled television industry, ‘market’ could also be defined as networks discovering they stood in the way of history.  Certainly, television has scrambled to catch up with the social media, and it has begun finally to move away from an old demography on which it has been stuck that each day applies less and less to the only definition of markets that ultimately matters – a way to make money.

Continue reading