A few days ago, I had the pleasure of attending Soledad O’Brien’s I Am Latino in America event, a tour featuring some of the most prominent Latino leaders in entertainment, politics, and yes, education. None of O’Brien’s features, from the seminal Black in America to the series of other CNN programming aimed at specific groups, present anything new per se, but they do feature different facets of what it means to be [insert given identity]. So, as a Black Latino (Afro-Latino, if you must), I was struck by hearing the younger folks like poet Denice Frohman and comedian Vladimir Caamaño to the established figures like actor Rosie Perez and musician Willie Colon giving their honest visions for the work they’re doing.
Of course, NYC schools chancellor Carmen Fariña and National Education Association (NEA) president Lily Eskelsen Garcia were there, too, thus my interest in this event.
As Ms. O’Brien highlighted, education is the #1 issue among those who identify as Latino, not immigration, according to a recent poll. Yet, the only issue most major news networks have hung like a carrot on a stick for Latinos is immigration. Shorter version of this election with respect to Latinos:
Trump: “We’ll kick you out of here and build a wall behind you.” The Democrats: “We’ll keep you and … we’re still trying to figure out the rest.”
The back and forth between Sanders supporter Rosario Dawson and Hillary Clinton endorserDolores Huerta stands to accentuate a generational divide. But, even though both exclude Donald trump from their framework for Latino empowerment, it also illustrates the majority of Latinos who have disparate views on every major political issue. If one listens to the talk out there, you don’t get the richness of the conversations happening online, at dinner tables, and, yes, in our schools.