1.08.2007

NY Latinos Are Fighting: Who's Really Winning?

In her OP/Ed piece in today's DailyNews, Put down the pitchforks
and hear Badillo out
, Andrea Batista Schlesinger asks Latinos to chill out and look at the real issues involving the under-education of Latino children. She says, in a rightly exasperated tone:

Dios mio. With all due respect, who cares about Herman Badillo? The real headlines should be about whether there is any truth in what he has claimed - and what that means for our children.
That was the same point I made in Badillo Goes Cosby on Latinos in anticipation of all of the hysteria and theatrics. Below are a few of the heated comments on Badillo and his book One Nation, One Standard.

Maegan "la Mala" Ortiz writing for VivirLatino had this to say:

Having had experience first hand working with Latino parents in the NYC public school system, including an overwhelming amount of non-English dominant parents (and being a Latina parent with a child in public school) I am personally and
collectively insulted. What has he been doing hanging with Lou Dobbs or Arnie?
I know of Lou Dobbs' anti-Latino sentiments, but I must say I don't know what Arnie (Schwarzenegger, right?) has done to piss-off La Mala. If it helps, Arnie probably thinks she's hot, too. With that mixture of Latino and African blood and all.

I digress.

Here's one from EL Diario's Badillo's Rant editorial:

His book is supposed to be a blunt account of why Hispanics are in crisis. Instead, it`s a disjointed, afactual rant that shows very little insight into complex social and educational issues.
Ouch!

If you're Latino and you experience the challenges of emerging as a sound and educated person from the swamp of deep poverty, social and economic marginalization, you can understand why some of Badillo's key points are insulting.

But I do agree with Andrea that it's more constructive to stop ranting about Badillo and focus on Latino education. Latinos as a group do have a high drop out rate and many complete school without the necessary preparation for college or careers. So we must double up efforts to raise expectations and to provide Latino students with quality schools.

While I continue to believe that Badillo does care about Latino children, and I can see that he's assumed for himself the risky role of strict, disciplinarian father role (which, BTW, is how Spain kept the colonies not asleep but enslaved), I do question the timing and marketing of his tome.

Frankly, I'm not so sure that Badillo is a free-agent here.

Clearly, part of the timing is related to the Anti-immigrant wave of the Right wing. These types of books are supposed to soften the extreme Right's racist tendencies; after all, it can't be racist to go after Latinos when Herman and Linda and other Latino conservatives have desks and book deals with right wing "think" tanks.

And since the book is most controversial in New York City, is there any reason why the Right is interested in distracting Latinos there?

Knowing something about how the Right wing operates, I suspect that there's more here than meets the eye.