Our family originally came out of Texas as migrant workers who spread throughout the nation and some stayed never to come home. Today, the bulk of one side of the family is located in the Midwest and the other in Texas.
Like most Latino families, we have a tradition that tends to be somewhat religious and conservative. For some of the members, the move away from that tradition after World War II came as a result of the realization that we were second-class citizens caused mostly by the design of others and our inability to overcome history.
As a result, our enhanced sense of nationalism has tended to honor political leaders in one or the other major political party that in turn honors our desire to elevate our standing. Good examples of this type historical relationship are Presidents Kennedy and Johnson on the Democratic side and both Presidents Bush and President Reagan on the Republican side.
Ordinarily the family, like the rest of the county, has united behind our elected presidents with an eye to finding opportunities for growth and prosperity that an administration may facilitate. Not so this time around, as the family is divided along confusing lines filled more with emotion and anger around a figure that wants to appear bigger than life.
The problem for the family comes from a president that began to make and continues to color his reputation as an avowed enemy of Latino immigrants by branding them rapists and criminals. His utterances appear to want to take us back to a time when the Latino experience was one of gross discrimination and voiceless subservience on the part of a conquered people.
A cousin from Texas asked me recently if the President was tending to act like a dictator. She was reacting not only to the statements and actions of his administration in the Latino community, but also to those around her seeking to make her choose sides for or against elements of what she sees as a divided family and community.
You only have to go to the family Facebook pages to get an understanding of the muddle confusion of political loyalties. There is also evidence of a major misunderstanding about what is Liberal and what is Conservative and the fact that the attacks on our community have little to do with those notions.
Part of the reason for this confusion perhaps is that a significant majority of the family are millennials born after 1980 with virtually no memory or experience with the issues that defined the struggle for Latino space and place in America. There appears to be very little feeling for the history of social and political battles for equality after World War II and Korea, the trauma of Vietnam, the issues of the Chicano Movement and the meaning of the great immigrant waives that have helped to restore lost Latino identity and language and forever changed the destiny of a people on the cusp of becoming an emerging majority.
I am rereading a historical compilation titled The War in Korea and the Complete History of World War II (1955) by Francis Trevelyan Miller and am impressed with the documented signs of tyranny on a weakened people that facilitated the German and Italian dictatorships that together with those in Japan and the Soviet Union brought us a world war and great tragedy. Tyranny has many faces and should cause us to be vigilant so that a divided family and country are not caught by surprise.