“For English press one”
“Para Espanol, marque el numero dos”
“For Spanglish, marque the number tres”
Tia Carmen with ear to phone in “Baldo” comic strip by Cantu and Castellanos.
This is a reflection on the many types of people cobbled together under the label of “Hispanic” or “Latino” and the truth that it would behoove conservatives and the Republican hierarchy to understand why cookie cutter pandering won't help with that narrowly defined demographic. Much of the following has to do with people I have known or closely observed, and some of my own personal life is wrapped into this essay.
A woman, whose husband I worked with a few years ago and stay in contact with, was born into the upper class in El Salvador and has a last memory of El Salvador of their house being bombed and the family fleeing to the United States when she was about 11 years old.
The woman is now middle aged, has a lucrative income, is much more familiar with Pinot Noir than Pupusas, and is very Americanized. Her uneducated and ignorant yet high class El Salvadoran mother lives with her.
They have a maid from El Salvador who is from the bottom class. The mother runs roughshod arrogant over the maid, treating her like shit. The maid, used to being treated like shit in El Salvador takes it. Often, while "mom" is finding something more for the maid to do, the daughter will send the maid home for having done enough to clean the house.
The maid likes to graze while cleaning and found the daughter's stashed medical marijuana cookies (the rare, debilitating medical condition was eventually diagnosed a couple of years later, treated, and the medical marijuana discontinued), secretively eating 13 when two will do (maid didn't know what they were and thirteen were missing from the hidden stash) before she left. The next time the maid came back she talked about losing her brains on the way home from the last visit and had been to a curandero who blew smoke on her and gave her a magic Twiggy looking hat to keep her brains from flying out of her head. Until fairly recently, she wore that hat everywhere she went, maybe even even wearing it while she was sleeping.
The daughter, having had access to money and an education, is American. The maid's children, who will probably grow up in relative poverty and superstition, will also become Americanized to a great degree while being propagandized into class warfare (not a great leap due to parental origins) and have a "Latino" political consciousness drummed into their heads by an American educational system co-opted by "diversity". Note that people who are described as "Latino" (without regard to personal national origin) have the highest drop out rate as a group.
I am somehow reminded of the City of Bell scandal. The city is crammed full of people born in Latin America who are used to being fleeced and taken advantage of by politically corrupt governments, there is no other political system where they come from. Until outsiders intervened, the City council and city administrators siphoned off millions of dollars while perpetrating voter fraud and all the rest. It was primarily possible by baggage the city of immigrants brought with them.
Now consider that "the path to citizenship" leads directly to Democrat voter registration without having to know much if anything at all about American democracy, American history, America itself, or even the English language.
Meanwhile, there is a little girl with whom I have a role as a grandfather figure, we've been a big part of each others' lives since she was born eight years ago, she has no other grandfather figure. On her mother's side, her great grandmother's generation is the Spanglish generation. Spanish has not been spoken in their homes since the collective childhoods of that generation. That generation is derived from an early 20th century America and a Mexico that no longer exists – the tragically conflicted Mexico of Porfirio Diaz and Francisco Madero of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They were part of the not wholly Mexican, not wholly American people who came of age from the late 1920's to the late 1960's indirectly referred to by Octavio Paz in one of the first one to three chapters of his 1958 book “The Labyrinth of Solitude”, whom he observed while living in Los Angeles for a time. They (ancestral first born Americans) were not and are not the same as Mexicans then, and their descendants are not the same as they (ancestral first born Americans) were then nor are they (ancestral first born Americans) and their American descendants the same as Latin Americans who are coming over the border now.
The little girl's – father's - mother is from the Mexico of the 1980's economic disaster presided over by Lopez Portillo. The grandmother's English is heavily accented, the girl's American born father has an accent that may be described as first born in America, but I have not heard him say a single Spanish word, not even of those very few words sometimes retained for several generations. He is a “homie” who pissed away good will and monetary investment in him which would have assisted him in being a gainfully employed, productive member of society, I believe he will remain in prison until his daughter is about 16 or so. However, there is now a young man whose family is from the same American ancestral barrio as her (the little girl) mother's family, who is with her mother in a familial bond and functions as a supportive father figure in the home, which the girl needs. He has self respect, he works and he has a future which helps the girl have a future too.
In the meantime, the Mexican grand mother (for those who confuse race with nationality, from Mexico) moved in with the father's sister (the girl's aunt, who's a nice, squared away, gainfully employed person), then proceeded to move much of the extended Mexican family – four generations worth - into the aunt's two bedroom, rented house. There may have been three or more faces for every window, and the aunt who originally rented the house moved out to have her own life as well as personal privacy. I believe there is a social services role in that household.
There are “Latinos” who are different yet from the diverse types described above, such as a Mexican (from Mexico) I worked with almost 16 years ago. When I asked him about the election of Mexican President Fox, he replied that he didn't care in the slightest, he hates Mexico and all he cares about is the American flag. An American born said he is proud that his Mexican parents forced him to speak Spanish at home the whole time before he grew up and left and, rejecting the term “American”, describers himself as “Mexican”, even though he doesn't go to Mexico because Mexicans screw with him in Mexico in a variety of ways for being “pocho” (pejorative of sliding scale from merely Americanized to somehow being a willful traitor to Mexican heritage). His running buddy has trouble keeping up in Spanglish, but goes about “teaching” “gueritas” (cute white girls) “how to speak Spanish” while the other guy rolls his eyes. Another American born from Corpus Cristi (who also has no love for Mexico) informed me, in a raspy Texas redneck accent, that “we ain't got nothin' against y'all, but you need to be marrying into your own race” when I described a trip to Texas with a brown woman and we, especially her, got a load of stink eye from “Hispanics” for being a mixed couple when I expected the racial animus to come from white Texans, which was nil. A Marine born in Mexico told me that his American born daughters came home from school one day talking all that stuff about being Mexican. The US Marine father corrected them, reinforcing that they were Americans.
In the meantime, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are touted by white Republicans as being Hispanic. On the other hand, Mexican – centric, American born brown racists regard them as white enemies whose ancestry is from Cuba and Spain.
The above includes saints, sinners, productive people, freeloaders, clean living, druggies and alcoholics, broken families and tightly knit nuclear and extended families, single mothers, hard workers and foot draggers, negative fallout from the 60's and the Great Society and beating the odds, great ingenuousness and gross stupidity, the forward looking and those with crushing baggage, poverty stricken and financially secure, the educated and the illiterate, people from several different nations and 14th amendment citizens – which I have just now realized includes everyone of all races whose families have been here for generations in addition to the American born children of foreigners, and I have barely touched on the true diversity of the different peoples narrowly stereotyped as “Latino” or “Hispanic”.
Away from the notion, pounded into them over the last fifty years or so, that the Republican party is packed full of racists and, generally, “the white man is out to get you”, political convictions are all over the map, depending on personal socio-economic conditions, family background and personal values. There can be a lot of reactive punishment meted out to “vendidos” (racial and cultural “sell outs” as subjectively defined by brown racists) from those who have a brown racist ethnic-nationalist view and push it hard. And, those who have close relatives who are illegal will never vote the Republican ticket no matter what the Republican party does.
There is nothing to be gained by pandering and much to be garnered by appealing to “Hispanics” as American citizens. It begins with economic prosperity and national security that is manifested at the neighborhood and household level. As Tip O'Neal famously said and what Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are trying to exploit, “All politics is local”.
-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary