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the midst of a truly historic presidential campaign: A woman or
an African-American have, for the first time, a real chance of
becoming President of the United States of America, perhaps with
the pivotal help of an important new voting bloc: Latinos.
media, particularly 24-hour cable news and talk shows, are stuck
in the twilight zone. Although there's been a welcome increase
in the number of African-American commentators that bring some
perspective and sensibility into the equation, most of the
panels of pundits, analysts, spinners and assorted "experts"
consist of white males, with a pundette or two thrown in to play
Kemo Sabe to their Lone Rangers.
most part, these self-appointed arbiters of truth and
enlightenment are often pathetic.
that, to use one of the sports metaphors the talk jocks are so
fond of, the rules of the game have changed. What we have here
is a completely different game being played.
palpitations every time a group of opinionistas discusses the
Latino vote and rehashes the platitude du jour: Brown people
don't vote for black people.
hardly ever a Latino participating in these discussions, so
nobody points out that, first, "brown" is a misnomer. Hispanics
are not an in-between, neither-fish-nor-fowl race. Hispanics are
a diverse group of people united by culture and language,
geography and history. There are white Latinos, black Latinos,
Amerindian Latinos and every possible combination thereof.
Latinos not voting for blacks, frankly, that's news to me. I'm
sure it's also news to my congressman, Charlie Rangel, for whom
I've been voting forever and who always carries El Barrio, where
decades ago, David Dinkins, :placeNew York City 's first
African-American mayor, carried more than 70% of the Latino
vote. Barack Obama himself has said he has always received the
majority of Chicago 's Latino vote.
counts, Latinos will vote for Hillary Clinton in large numbers.
This is because we are loyal to the familiar. We don't drop old
amigos for just
any new guy passing by the barrio to sip a
café con leche on
his way to somewhere.
other hand, we are not immune to being seduced into voting for
the candidate we'd rather have a
cerveza or a
near-religious experience with. I predict that on Tuesday, the
Latino Reggaeton Generation will vote for Obama in larger
numbers than expected.
more than one occasion, I've heard pundits pose questions to
other non-Latino "Latino experts" in such terms as "Do you think
the Latino vote will go heavily against Obama?" This
characterization is unfair and dangerous and just plain racist.
rankling as these racially charged analyses and innuendos are,
the Frat Boys Brigade - particularly MSNBC's Tucker Carlson,
Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough - save their best shots for
the female candidate. Sen. Hillary Clinton has been called
witchy, scary, Machiavellian, calculating, a castrating female.
comes on television, I involuntarily cross my legs," Carlson has
said on air.
about Clinton 's cleavage, hairdo or clothes are made between
smirks, sneers and guffaws. When she's being forceful, she's
called "shrill." When she laughs, she "cackles." Too often, they
refer to her as Mrs. Clinton instead of Sen. Clinton.
school dorm banter and new
raza card-playing might be good for the ratings, but
it is deeply insulting and demeaning to all women and Latinos,
and a tremendous disservice to the American people in general.
And it's got to stop.
shows should recruit some Latinos and female commentators who do
not bend over backward trying to be one of the boys, so they can
offer professional, knowledgeable and fair commentary worthy of
this historic presidential campaign.
freelance writer and playwright, is a columnist for the Daily
News Viva section.