Grace Bastidas's "El Pueblo Unido: Making the Case for a United Latino Front" and Ta-Nehisi Coates's "Why White America Would Rather Learn Spanish Than Ebonics" [May 14-20] received an unusual amount of mail. The following is a selection from our readers' responses.
Re Ta-Nehisi Coates's "Minority Report: Why White America Would Rather Learn Spanish Than Ebonics":
First off, the title annoyed me before I even read the article. Ebonics is not a language! It's a dialect of some black Americans, not all. To compare it to Spanish is ridiculous.
I do agree, though, that the word minority is just as horrible as the N-word. The only people who deserve some respect and an apology are the people who were enslaved, not their descendants.
If you spend all your time pointing fingers at other people, you tend to get left behind in life. My hands are down and I'm walking forward.
Re "Minority Report":
This article was really good on a number of levels. My only problem is the way Coates moves from talking about White America to the Republican Party like they are one and the same.
I am a good, old, evil, piece of male whitebread. Yet I have been a leftist, liberal Democrat for years. Why has "White America" become a code word for "closet bigot"?
South Riding, Virginia
Coates hits the nail on the head: White America needs to wake up and realize that the race issue can no longer be deflected by pitting one minority against another. It is time to look in the mirror and ask, "Why do these unfounded stereotypes immediately pop into my head when I see someone who isn't white? Why am I afraid?"
The problems are economic. Race is just a way to justify selfishness through stereotypes. The fact that racial discrimination continues has everything to do with wanting to keep the white man on top. And isn't it oh-so-easy to justify this hierarchy with a pre-programmed response? Let's face it, most Americans are lazy when it comes to finding out about "the Other."
The Other is you. Learn to respect you, and you won't be so damn scared all the time, and maybe, just maybe, you'll actually enjoy sharing the health and the wealth.
PUTTING THE X IN XICANA
Re "Minority Report":
I am Xicana and found myself agreeing with a majority of Coates's views.
I only wonder why being considered the "largest" minority group in the U.S. is considered such a prize in the first place. It's not as if African Americans (then) or Latinos (now) represent any impressive percentage in regard to education, business, etc. Yes, I know we're all making strides, but I need to know what the real (not potential) benefits are.
The point is: So what? Let's not cheer or mourn over which minority group is the numeric top dog. Because what's the real gain? Zero, nada, nothin'zilch. If anything, it would seem Latinos have even further to go in making any significant strides, since our population is booming at such a rate.
Coates is absolutely right: The social issues for African Americans and Latinos are primarily the same. Let's not lose valuable energy by focusing on academic arguments instead working toward improving opportunities for all of us.
2020: A RACE ODYSSEY
Re Grace Bastidas's "El Pueblo Unido: Making the Case for a United Latino Front":
I felt obligated to let you know how backward I found this article to be. We have been striving in this country for generations to rid ourselves of racial distinctions. I know tension still exists, but to read this article, you would think it was still 1950! I am white and have no race-based agenda; I am not looking to keep anyone down. It is thinking like Bastidas's that keeps racial tension alive.
No, we have not completely rid this country of racism, but we are doing pretty damn well. My only hope is that when it is 2020 and the Latino population is greater than the black population, no one will report on itor even give a rat's ass. I know I won't.
FROM MALTA TO YALTA
Bastidas's call to political arms is myopic; like a Malta India drink, it's sweet but lacking in nutrition.
If individuals, regardless of immigrant origin, are striving for a piece of the American pie, their efforts are far better directed in hard work, industriousness, respect for their neighbors, and living by the golden rule.
The promotion of the idea that one can excel by group membership is so last century. There's no substitute for individual responsibility and accomplishment. Those wishing to succeed have every opportunity to do so in the U.S. As Winston Churchill declared, "The United States is the worst country to live in, except when you consider all the others."
GIVE UNTO CESAR
Thank you, Grace Bastidas, for "El Pueblo Unido." I am surprised to see how the Chicano civil rights movement and Cesar Chavez often go unmentioned. Yes, we must be grateful to the African American community for their invaluable work in effecting social change, but as Latinos, we also have to remind ourselves of our own guerrilleros sociales, those wholike Chavezworked at the same time as African Americans, on the other side of this country.
Let's revisit the history of the '60s and teach young New York Latinos about the struggles de sus hermanos in California, to give them a more complete picture of where they stand as Latinos. There is great strength and political tenacity to be gained from the Chicano movement and the history of La Raza.
THE POWER OF GRACE
Grace Bastidas, you have left me flabbergasted, with your amazing article. Every word that was written was accurate.
I'm an 18-year-old Dominican woman, born and raised in New York. The majority of my Latino friends dropped out of high school. I attend college to better my life, but I also do it to contradict those who make Latinos sound as if they are a disgrace to American society. I just wanted to briefly acknowledge your article; it left me gasping for air. I truly believe "Es el momento de la revolución."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.