Recent history has witnessed consequential moments for our country. We bore witness to the civil rights movement of the 1960s, which brought us closer to racial justice, and perhaps one-day equality. More recently, society was affected when one of its previously most vilified sectors, the LGBT community, transformed the way we define families and even love.
These racial justice and sexual minority social movements were consequential in that they changed our collective psyche concerning the way many view and treat these groups. While these movements were developing and evolving, from time to time I recall hearing rumblings of a Latino/a movement, or moment. From a leading documentary on HBO entitled "the Latin Explosion" to headlines in newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal, where it predicted over four years ago, consequential "Hispanic Influence" over national politics. Yet, somewhat somberly, just a few weeks ago, New York Times author Marcela Valdes, perhaps correctly, wondered whether our 27 million voting block will have any significant impact on our communities. As an educator, student of history, and writer of several books on immigration, and social and racial justice, I too have long-waited for the so-called "Latin Moment"--a moment when the so-called sleeping giant in domestic politics will finally claim its rightful place in politics, economic circles, and overall influence.
If there ever was a time for that moment, it is now.
In less than one week, this country will elect its leader, and the choice could not be clearer for our communities--we have one candidate that has run a campaign centered on divisiveness, effectively calling for the reclaiming of white nationalism at the expense of virtually every vulnerable minority group in this land. He has called our Mexican immigrant brothers, rapists; attacked a U.S-born judge because of his Mexican Heritage; and foolishly called for a wall to stop undocumented immigration, failing to realize said immigration is demanded by the construction, agricultural, and service sectors of our economy. Furthermore, Donald Trump's solution on immigration resembles his credentials to lead this land--it is lacking and far from complete. You see, even if we were to build his so-called wall-- a huge and great wall--(that Mexico will somehow pay for), what this demagogue utterly fails to recognize is that over forty percent of undocumented immigration does not come from our Southern border--immigrants come on planes to the airports all over this country--and no wall can impact these visa overstays that are central parts of both our tourism economy, and are critical parts of our family unification and higher education initiatives and incentives.
Furthermore, Latino/a households know that policies targeting undocumented immigrants will affect us directly, not only through their impact on our friends and families, but perhaps more directly from the results of racial profiling on all of us. The shameful Operation Wetback of this country's past, which is part of Trump's immigration plan, has taught us that many documented and even U.S. citizens will fall victim to his efforts. In other words, we know all too well that if we do not stop him for our brothers and sisters, self-preservation must ensure we are heard loud and clear. If the almost daily attacks on women, African-Americans, Muslims, veterans and their families, and those with disabilities is not enough to motivate us, then the cynics were correct. I say, it is our time to proclaim loudly with our votes: Ya Basta!!!
The question is whether our dreams of acceptance and respect will be deferred, having them fester like sores as Langston Hughes warned, or will we mobilize, recognizing we are caught in a single garment of destiny as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King called upon us to act. Is there really any legitimate doubt what we should be doing? Whereas he wants to deport all undocumented en mass, she wants comprehensive immigration reform; where he wants to gut education, she wants to invest in our futures; where he attacks us and concludes we are presumptively unfit if we are Latino descent, she will certainly have a diverse and inclusive government that pass policies to support our futures; where he demeans and arguably threatens us, especially all of our daughters, she represents a new day of merit and achievement. We must fight and ultimately defeat hate and bigotry with hope and a historic victory.
As a proud Latino law professor, and for my beautiful, brilliant, and strong Latina daughters, I, along with thousands of others, have spent countless hours supporting Latino/a voters throughout this election cycle--from answering questions, directing voters to early voting sites, to arranging pick-up services during Election Day. We have done this throughout this great land in the old Caribbean tradition of being Presente for our fellow brothers and sisters. Now, is indeed our time, let us claim our rightful role and proclaim we will not tolerate hate; we will not be wrongfully demonized and scapegoated; and we will make history, and become the critical sector in the election of the most brilliant and qualified presidential candidate in our country's history--Hillary Clinton.