Posts

Census Shows Latinos Fuel Population Growth Sparks Discussion of Latino-Majority Districts

Within the last ten years, the Latino community has fueled almost all the population growth in the United States.

Beginning this week, the 2010 census results are being released on a state-by-state basis.

New Jersey, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Virginia were the first to receive the census redistricting data which will be used in the process of redrawing political districts based on population and racial makeup, states Fox News Latino.

Mark Braden, former chief counsel to the Republican National Committee, states, “There are going to be a lot of additional Hispanic officials elected when redistricting is done.”

Florida, Texas, Arizona, and Nevada are four of the eight states gaining House seats and owe half or more of their population gain over the last decade to Hispanics.

Minorities accounted for roughly 70 percent of U.S. growth, and Hispanics made up about 40 percent.

Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), says his group was expecting to see “a minimum of nine additional Latino-majority House seats,” if states comply with federal law.

This is because the 1965 Voting Rights Act levels out the chances for minority voters with those of majority voters to get their candidates into office.

The population changes will result in a shift of House seats taking effect in 2013.

Indigenous Not Participating in Census

The U.S. Census Bureau launched a massive campaign to encourage New York Latinos to send in their census forms, but apparently made no effort to include residents of Mexico’s indigenous populations, according to community activists.

“A lot of people don’t understand the census, since most of them only speak a little Spanish,” said Rogelio Gonzalez, one of the 300 Mixtecos living in northern Staten Island.

Gonzalez and his family are among the few in the community who have returned their census questionnaire. Only 38 percent of the local Mixtec community, from San Marcos de Natividad in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, have sent in their census forms.

“We don’t even understand the census questions very well,” Gonzalez said of Spanish-speaking Mixtec people. “It should have gone through a translator.”

The census questionnaire has been translated into 60 languages. But these do not include Mixtec or other indigenous Mexican languages.

“We are counting on groups partnering with the Census Bureau to work in very specific communities,” said Igor Alvez, a spokesperson for the New York Census Bureau. “These homes will be visited by census workers if they don’t return their census forms. They will be counted.”

The Mexican Consulate said it supported the Census Bureau with a general campaign inclusive of all Mexicans, and that it did not want to be exclusive or divisive. There was no campaign specifically targeting the Mixtec or other indigenous groups.

The consulate noted that indigenous groups identify as Mexican.

In 2008, there were 295,000 Mexicans living in New York, according to the Department of City Planning.

A writer and expert on the Hispanic community, Louis Nevaer, affirms that a large percentage of them are indigenous.

Nevaer found that only 17 percent of non-Spanish-speaking indigenous Mexicans in the region are willing to participate in the census.

Nevaer led a team of 17 people who interviewed indigenous Mexicans from Feb. 1 to March 15 in New York City, Northern New Jersey and Long Island. The study found that this group would not participate if materials were not translated into their own languages–Mixtec, Zapotec and Mayan.

“They are very reluctant and distrustful,” said Nevaer. “They don’t speak the language, they’re undocumented, and they’re here without village elders to tell them that it’s okay cooperate.”

March: To Bean or Not to Bean

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! According to the fine folks behind the U.S. Census as well as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Latinos are…white!

Caray! All those years of racial segregation, oppression, and resentment turn out to be just a big, 500-year-old misunderstanding! If we can all kindly deposit our now-void Race Cards into your designated drop-off site, gracias, the “racism-doesn’t-exist-now-get-out-my-neighborhood-Brownies!” conservatives would greatly appreciate it. Gangsters and vatos locos, to your nearest tattoo dude; they’ll laser your “Brown Pride” tat right off (maybe they’ll take care of your dragon that looks more like a dolphin, too).

Now, now, before I get too into the tarado-ness committed, maybe I should offer the reasoning behind why so many of us read “Hispanic origins are not races” on our census forms. According to the definitions set down by the U.S. Census Bureau, being Hispanic, Latino, Puerto Rican, etc. is an ethnic designation, while race is categorized by “non-scientific…social and cultural characteristics” and “ancestry” (huh?); thus, races are constructs such as black, white, “American Indian,” and (strangely enough) nationalities, too, like Vietnamese. In other words, one can be ethnically Latino but be racially black, white, American Indian, or some other race.

I suppose for many Hispanics calling themselves white will be a non-issue, a source of Eurocentric pride even. But I can’t help wondering where the majority of us Latinos – those that acknowledge both our Hispanic and indigenous roots – fit exactly. Are we still, after half a millennium of ancestry, to be regarded a mix of white and native? Are we some oil and vinegar concoction destined never to become a zesty blend worthy of our own dressing bottle? After all, the Ku Klux Klan never sent me an E-vite to one of their B.Y.O.S. (bring your own sheet!) hoedowns.

Then again, getting pissy over the narrow-mindedness of bureaucrats is like being shocked about finding traffic on the 405. But what made me really drop my taco in disbelief was seeing Mayor Villaraigosa on the local news, being interviewed about the confusion over the census’ racial question. His response? He says he personally checked “white,” because that’s what Latinos are, all while giving that slimy car salesman smirk of his. I mean, this guy got so much slack for being a member of MEChA in his original run for the mayor’s office. Slap on a headdress, make him give you that patented smile, and you have a dead ringer for Chief Wahoo, the Cleveland Indian’s mascot! You can practically see the cactus blooming from his forehead, for Quetzalcoatl’s sake! Qué vergüenza!

So congratulations, the U.S. Census and the most honorable Mayor Villaraigosa, March’s Tarados del Mes.