The Latino Struggle for Self Identity

Al Vasquez

For a relative number of vocal Latinos who have endured hardships stemming from discrimination, there is only one feeling present because all others have been consumed by a burning desire to get even with the society they have chosen to join. This is the real irony. Latinos want to be full fledged Americans yet feel compelled to protest the hardships they have endured. Perhaps it takes aging or the solidification of understanding before we learn everyone suffers in one form or another to become American. I use the word American to refer to a United States citizen knowing full well America is a continent encompassing many other countries. For some Americans, the suffering was endured by ancestors hardly recalled by kin yet they paid the price for the current generation enjoying their freedoms. For new arrivals their sacrifice is now. It is not hard to guess what haunting memories afflict their souls what taunts they have endured or what roads of unfairness they have had to traverse. The truth is as Latinos we must all emerge from the subjective agony we impose on ourselves and escape to objectivity where we can see justice engulf us in the form of the Americanism we enjoy simply by living in America; Undeniably the best young, emerging country in the world.

Latinos come from struggles, from lands that have never known prolonged harmony, from territories having endured many conquests, wars, revolutions, dictators, poverty, hunger and political corruption. When they arrive in America, they love yet question the established constitutional structure. Being new to the concept of personal freedoms and rising to the limits of their own merits, they cannot accept their life without constant conflict and begin to resent the monotony of rather mundane harmony that engulfs our day to day lives. Certainly we struggle to make ends meet but for the most part, we need not struggle to stay alive and physically defeat those who would do us harm. They question the structure out of their own ignorance of how the rule of law sooner or later catches up and is for the most part equally applied to all.

America has always been the land ruled by clear sighted majority consensus calculation, from the drafting of the constitution to today’s battle to convert to green energy. Today we set the stage for tomorrow.

We are the land of infinite possibility as well as the land of great challenge not only for our country but for all of us as individuals.

Latinos must learn to channel their heart –rending passion, discipline their distress and direct it to where it will bear them fruit. Political activists extol their pseudo philosophical belief that a Latino is better than a Hispanic, that a Chicano is more Raza than a Mexican-American and countless other inventions derived from their need to function as Latino culture historians. Their quest for a condensed intelligent deciphering of the vast civilizations who presided over Latino cultures thousands of years ago disguises the immensity of our historical past and leads us farther astray from being who we are today, in the present. Having evolved from Aztecs or Mayas is as archaic and irrelevant for capitalizing on who we are today as Anglos having evolved from the Germanic peoples in England at the time of the Norman Conquest from where English came from. Latinos derived only sporadic aspects of their culture from the ancient civilizations since the language of Spanish and certain foods came from the Spaniards after their conquest of the historical ancestors and South America. Assigning a chronological perspective to Latinoism or Hispanoism stems from a conscious effort to give order to the cries of identity passion; a misdirected tendency to think of an Aztec heritage to have only possibly evolved to be today’s Chicano and discredit any notion of a perceived “Hispanic” evolution. How ludicrous to deny the fruit stemming from the same roots. Latino, Hispano, Chicano, Raza, Mexican-American are products of the same tree.

We are all individuals caught between history and God and as part of mankind we await to be orchestrated symphonically to the point of coming together to perform an enlightened rendition of “America the Beautiful”. Until we come together in the spirit of one brotherhood, we are destined to remain exactly where astute politicians have put us, dependent on political parties to impart on us a historical dignity we as descendants of the Aztecs and Mayans already have.