W. Kamau Bell “United Shades of America,” a timely series on CNN in its second season has followed the growth of White community overt racism that both affirms the desire to be the power as well as the nostalgia for a time when this power was unchallenged. In a promotional piece for the show, Bell interviewed a person that expresses his relish for White Privilege and the benefits that it brings to himself and the country.
This sense of entitlement and destiny is not lost on most of those that came out of the woodwork to cast their vote (some for the first time) for President Trump. For those afraid for the future of their kind, he truly represents the Great White Hope that after the scare of having a Black president for 8 years want to obliterate the Obama legacy and leave no trace of his ever having occupied the office.
“United Shades of America” is a great fit for the African American narrative in the United States as that community has had the longest and deepest relationship with its oppressor. That relationship is so well ingrained that over the years, many Black leaders have seen any significant discussion on race as being only between White and Black.
That will not change any time soon as African Americans will continue to be a minority negotiating their place with the power structure. Latinos share some of the minority trappings tied to Black America and yet there is a sense that the Latino narrative goes to a different place and destiny.
When the French violated the Monroe Doctrine in 1862 and came into Mexico to create and expand its empire, they invaded a land that best demonstrated the demographic change that featured the ascendency of the Mestizo hybrid born in America some 350 years earlier. This population that had risen from outcast to become the core community with new political thinking found itself tested again by a colonial power similar to its previous European master that had to be defeated to gain political independence in 1821.
On May 5, 1862, on the plain approaching Puebla, Mexico, the community and its militia met and defeated the French in what was to be an important symbolic battle in a long war that saw Benito Juarez, an Indian President, lead a nation to victory over a European emperor. Memories of that battle on “Cinco de Mayo” later rallied the Chicano Movement to fight the oppressor on the streets of America.
The struggle has not been in vain as the most important aspects of what was lost has been recovered. The sense of identity, the sense of space and pride in language are essential building blocks in a new America that awaits the leadership of a Latino community re-energized and on the upswing of a new age.
The image of our Latino immigrant community currently under attack shows that there is no end to the struggle and epic adventure that is the Latino story. It also dramatically demonstrates that both North and South America and every thing in between are Latino country.
The world has changed radically since May 5th on the Puebla plain in 1862 or even in Zapata Park in Pueblo, Colorado in 1972 as the Latino community is poised to take on the challenge of leading a new America. The decadence represented by White Privilege can be considered a cry for help for a country that is running out of ideas consistent with its immigrant past.