politics

Here’s Why Texas’ Latino Problem Is Important To All States

CREDIT: AUSTIN AMERICAN STATESMAN / YOUTUBE

Right now there are nearly 10 million Latinos living in the Lone Star State, and according to the Austin American Statesman, 1.3 million are living without representation among elected officials. In some cases, this can mean that a significant number of people are left to fend for themselves when government aid is needed. In areas like Deaf Smith County, the Latino population can top 70 percent, yet not one of the representative seats is held by a Latino, meaning there is a divide between who represents these citizens. At schools, similar problems arise. In the Grand Prairie school district, the school’s Latino population is around 65 percent, yet only one Latino, David Espinosa, sits on the school board. For a state that will be a majority Latino by the year 2020, a minority of offices are held by Latinos. This is a problem.

“I feel like we have been abandoned,” Isabel García told the Austin American Statesman.

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CREDIT: SMASHISM / INSTAGRAM

It might seem like the remedy for this problem rests in mobilizing Latino voters, but the math isn’t so simple. There are many factors that can lead to low Latino voter turn out: roadblocks in voter registration, voter apathy from underrepresentation, and redistricting measures that limit the influence of Latino voters are a few potential problems. Oftentimes, people running for office just don’t know how to connect with their Latino constituents and end up ignoring them when seeking reelection. Other times, the only strong candidates belong to a party that is not interested in their needs.  In spite of all this, Texas is poised to become a swing state in the 2016 presidential election. In 2012, Romney held a double digit lead over Obama in the Texas vote. In 2016, the margin between Trump and Clinton is only 3 percent. This closing of the gap between Democrats and Republicans is partly due to Texas’ Latino population, which largely skews Democrat when voting. So while people like Isabel García feel disenfranchised by their lack of representation, the outcome of the national election can rest in the hands of Latino voters. Something has to change at a local level.

So what’s next?

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CREDIT: TEXAS DEMOGRAPHIC CENTER

When Latinos vote in large numbers, they have the power to affect real political change. Florida has already seen a staggering increase in Latino voters for the 2016 presidential election, up 99% more than the turnout in 2012. For all the faults Texas has representing Latinos, the state also has more Latino elected officials than any other state, 2,536 in total. The problems that Texas is facing should concern any state that has a growing Latino population. Texas’ problems will be your problems one day soon. Thankfully, there are people in Texas’ underrepresented districts working for change, and already in this election cycle we’ve seen efforts to encourage Latino voter participation. Like most things, it’s a matter of time, education, and participation.


Read: Schools, Weed, And Crime. Here’s Why Californians Should Register To Vote Beyond The Presidency

John Leguizamo Just Put Everyone On Blast With New York Times Essay

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John Leguizamo Just Put Everyone On Blast With New York Times Essay

CREDIT: THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT / CBS

“John, you’re so talented, but too bad you’re Latin — otherwise you’d be so much further along.”

In a recent essay written for the New York Times, John Leguizamo fires shots at the apathy — from politicians to those in Hollywood — that leads them to overlook Latinos in the U.S. The veteran actor-comedian begins by revealing he’s often told he would have been a bigger star if he wasn’t Latino. Leguizamo says the lack of respect for Latinos didn’t begin with Trump. “We have grown up amid an entrenched disrespect for Latin culture, and we have often internalized that disrespect,” writes Leguizamo. He believes Donald Trump is only parroting what the media has been telling us for years. “Without media representation expanding to include more Latin faces and voices, we are vulnerable to a demagogue like Mr. Trump claiming that we are all ‘drug dealers,’ ‘rapists’ and ‘criminals.'”

“We need a Latino Spring in this country.”

John Leguizamo understands prejudice, and he doesn’t hold back when fighting against it. In just a few hundred words, he eloquently enumerates many of the contributions Latinos have made to this country, and he anguishes over the outright lack of respect that many of us still face on a daily basis. When he finally calls for a Latino Spring, he’s speaking from a place of anger and also hope. Closing out his piece, The Guiz doubles down on his stance: “Latinos need to demand our place in American history, and in corporate, political and social fields. We must demand an equal share of the American dream, and not accept a downgraded version of it.”

Check John Leguizamo’s amazing essay over at the New York Times.

[H/T] NYT: ‘Too Bad You’re Latin’


READ: Jorge Ramos’ “Hate Rising” Explores The Racism Infecting The U.S.

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