My mother is Latina, my father African American. I identify with both cultures, yet by most accounts my poor Spanish speaking abilities and looks have most simply identifying me as an African American. No matter what category anyone may try to place me in, I am unabashedly and undeniably a Person Of Color (POC).
There is this false notion that Blacks, Latinos and other minorities have disparate interests, objectives and agendas in striving for fairness and equality in America.
Of course each respective minority group has different cultural identities, but those differences no matter how significant do not detract from the true symbiosis that exists.
I recently sat in a restaurant in Polanco, perhaps Mexico City’s most affluent neighborhood, and it was striking how much the scene looked as if it could have been lifted directly from New York City’s Upper East Side. I do not think most Americans realize how many blond hair, Anglo looking Mexicans exist. What I find more interesting in such scenarios is the classism that still exists in Latin American countries with regards to skin color. My unofficial sociological study in places that I have been such as Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Panama and Guatemala have shown me that there is usually a significant discrepancy in the socio-economic levels of the darker skinned and native looking Latins. (For a more informative take on the subject I highly recommend reading Henry Louis Gates Jr. book “Black In Latin America” or his PBS related series on the subject.)
The point is that the vast majority of Latinos are considered, Brown, minorities or at the least POC to most Anglo-Americans. Aside from the wealthy, who live within exceptions to many rules, the diaspora of Latins living in the US do not have the same standing in the United States, because they are first and foremost minorities. The same is true for Asians and other non-Anglo groups living in the US.
The United States Census Bureau defines White people as those having origins in any of the original people of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa. As of 2013 Whites constituted the majority of US population 77.7%. However, that number drops significantly to 62.6% when you take out the number of people who describe themselves as both Hispanic and White.
Since 2006 in 35 of the 50 largest populated cities non-Hispanic Whites had dwindled to a minority of the population. Add to the fact that population growth is fastest among minorities as a whole with estimates from 2012 forecasting that 50.4% of all American children under the age of 1 belonged to minority groups (which included those classified as White and Hispanic).
These numbers both real and projected give a basis in understanding how threatened Whites in America are at the potential for diminishment of their previously unchallenged power.
The numbers moving forward are clearly not in their favor, and that is why you see such vehement calls for immigration control if not outright deportation of a base (i.e. Mexicans) that threatens them most directly. You see the fear in attempts to impose voter restrictions on the local level (see North Carolina)… keeping out a base or limiting their influence now as limitation on their future influence. You see it in the disenfranchisement of felons’ ability to vote. When you have minorities jailed at such a disproportionate ratio (POC are 30% of the population but comprise 60% of the prison population) you begin to understand why states such as Florida have such harsh restrictions on felons’ ability to vote as a means to restrict that population’s voting base.
The interests of POC are really not all that different. On the most basic level, we all want the opportunities to be afforded a quality education, find good employment and achieve the American dream. POC want to be treated fairly. This means not having laws written specifically to punish them harsher or have the police look upon them as anything less than citizens, until facts not preconceived prejudices and stereotypes prove otherwise.
POC need to stand up together to fight the forces in America (which are most notably the GOP politicians and lobbyists) that are working vigorously to impede the rights and opportunities normally afforded Caucasians. This is not about wanting more or special treatment, but uniting to say that we will not continue to let others deny or impede our progress. “Making America Great Again” cannot continue to be coded wording for the “good ole days” when POC knew their place at the back of separate and unequal lines.
POC need to wake up and understand that they are in a battle. The movement to limit immigration is a direct attack to the stats and threat that show Whites losing traction in retaining a majority in population in the not so distant future. Think it’s not a battle, so why do we have a GOP presidential candidate who’s primary platform is not just limiting future immigration but also deporting millions who are here already. Illegals are unable to vote but their children born here are currently citizens under the law and counted in future voting projections.
We need to stand together to demand that not only Black Lives Matter, but so do Brown Lives, as Hispanics often face the same discriminatory biases that have law enforcement treating them as suspects first. Our experiences are far more similar than they are different.
We need to realize that there is strength in numbers and in America that strength is reflected in voting and that is not just in national but local elections. We need the political powers to court our collective vote, not just as a means to get elected but as a real identifier of our political power and to influence real change. Right now our groups are taken for granted. One by a majority who just do not include us in their America. The other by a party who assume we have no alternative. I do not know if a third party alternative is in the future, but at the very least our collective voices are too big to be ignored. We can ensure that real change occurs not just placating election speak that lives us left out in the cold until they decide they have to pacify us for the next election.