Rise Above

Latinos should quit playing race game to further political power

By Andrew Alvidrez
Published on LatinoLA: October 28, 2002

Rise Above

The status of Hispanics in California politics is an issue which causes much concern. It is a scary thought to think a group of people who so dominate in terms of population and employment contributions lacks reasonable representation within both parties. Some, like Dr. Victor M. Rodriguez of Cal State Long Beach claim ("The Line Is Shorter Over Here" at one party's strength over another, although no real effort is made by either party in addressing the real problems facing the Latino Community.

If we are to follow Dr. Rodriguez' thesis. The Latino community as a whole is going to stay where it is. He espouses the tired mantra of victimization rather than supporting the creation of opportunities from within. The Hispanic community possesses far too many examples of entrepreneurship to fall for the "we are just too poor, and uneducated to succeed" line of reason. Too many examples, (Dr. Rodriguez' and Linda Sanchez' own parents) prove that through hard work and dedication to education anyone can succeed.

Unfortunately, Dr. Rodriguez seems to have a hidden agenda. He comments on one of the Latino candidates was not only offensive but intellectually dishonest. His description of a candidates residence and choice of spouse as an indicator of their dedication to "the people" do a great disservice to all who wish to rise above their social/economic situation. Isn't prejudice and bigotry what the civil rights movement was supposed to fight? Are we to judge individuals by what race their spouse is or who their neighbors are? Is someone less Hispanic if they choose to look at people for what they are rather than who their ancestors were? Isn't this exactly what we should not be using as a measure? And for the life of me, I cannot understand how he can push a candidate (Linda Sanchez) who would live in the same manner as the one he lambasts.

Linda Sanchez is married to an Anglo and lives in a Lakewood, demographically similar to La Mirada. She cynically changed back to her maiden name to run for office. She has a dismal record of service. Graduating in the early 90's, working for a law office for two years, for her sisters campaign for three and two years as a union employee. Where is her hard work in LA County? She voted only once here. Where is her name recognition? She touts her sister at every event.

When are we as a community... as a people, going to quit using this race game to further the political power of the few? It seems some argue for the power politics of race or possibly the power politics of victimhood. Should not the efforts of Hispanic leaders be focused on demanding that all our children read at grade level, that we hold schools and parents accountable for their children's learning? By doing so, they are supporting the system that has failed our children. Race is no excuse for failure.

Just so you do not misunderstand me. My father and mother are both immigrants from Latin American Countries. My father was born in Ahualulco, Mexico and immigrated to the US at the age of 10 in 1940. His father was a minister and they were the definition of poverty. He served this country during the Korean War (though he did not have to), naturalized, went to college and graduated from UCLA with a degree in Civil Engineering. He was a life-long Democrat, fought for bilingual education and when he retired from LA County went on the teach at a local High school. He remembered well the pains of discrimination, being hit for speaking Spanish in a Texas school house, but he always taught us to not judge people by their skin color. My mother is from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Immigrated at 19 and retired as a school principal. They sacrificed much to provide for us.

Race-baiting comments do them, our community and our country a great disservice.

About Andrew Alvidrez:
Andrew Alvidrez was born in Los Angeles and raised in Pico Rivera, CA. He attended local schools, served in the Armed Forces and is presently a school administrator.

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