The issue of Race In America has come to the forefront of political discussion today like in no other time in America that I can remember. As can be expected the conversations started with the issues of blacks and whites: white privilege, wealth gaps, health gaps, Ta Nehisi Coates, Cornel West, James Baldwin, on and on. Which is great and I have been following the conversation. In the back of my mind though I kept thinking, but what about us? What about the Latinos in America?
Hispanic is not a race. It is an ethnicity. Latinos come in all shapes and colors, but it is an identity for us. Scientifically the concept of Race does not exist. There is no biological basis for grouping people by skin color or the shape of their eyes or whatever. These are simply variations. To include Latinos in the question of Race in America we need to think of Black and White as identity and then bringing in Latino as identity facilitates inclusion. Maybe, I am not sure.
I remember as a young, eager student in Junior High, I read a lot of books on Black history. One day hanging out on the handball courts as I was reading a biography of Frederick Douglass, Angelique, a neighborhood beauty who had a crush on me (and I on her) came up to me and said, Why you always reading about black folks? You ain’t black.” She was right I wasn’t black, but I wasn’t white. Ni de aquí, ni de allá. I was a light brown. Latinos are neither and both. We carry the collisions of New World and Old World upon our backs and the History of the new world is written upon our skins.
Latinos are a varied and complex group and this video I just discovered on the NY Times website is fantastic. It starts a conversation and Latino identity and the complexity of being Latino in America. Many times throughout I found myself strongly identifying with what the various people were saying. Click here for the video.