Last year, during the November election, everything changed. The nation witnessed the powerful impact of the Hispanic electorate. It recognized as never before that our people are a force to be reckoned with in this country's immediate future. What happens now? Here is a word to Hispanic believers as we reflect on where we are today.
It is not that the rest of the country did not know that tens of millions of Hispanics live in the 50 states. It also doesn't mean that there hasn't been a certain appreciation for things Latin. Spanish music is heard on the airwaves, and the Latin Grammys are broadcast on television. There are singers that sing in both Spanish and English (Enrique Iglesias, Shakira) and actors that shift seamlessly between Latin and Anglo films (Salma Hayek, Jennifer Lopez). Latino athletes dominate baseball and boxing, and let's not forget soccer. Our food—tamales, pupusas, horchata, flan, black beans—have moved out of the barrio into the mainstream; you can now ask for hot sauce, pico de gallo, or Tabasco in almost any restaurant. These provide just some evidence of the Hispanic presence.
But, something changed in November. Now, there will be more attention paid to those of Latin-American descent. Maybe now we won't be labeled so easily as merely "Hispanic," an undefined faceless mass of people. The Federal Department of Education imposed that term upon us 40 years ago.
But, who is Hispanic? The indigenous peoples of pre-Columbian cultures? The dark skinned individuals of African roots? The Japanese Brazilian? The Mestizo of both Spanish and Native blood?
What about the language differences? Among us you can hear the Boricua accent of Puerto Rico, the speed ...1