I am blessed to have a comadre who is one incredibly intelligent, wise, and loving woman. Her name is Carmen DeNeve, and she is Mexican-born, living and teaching for decades now in Los Angeles California.
A day or so ago I posted this Time magazine cover to my personal Facebook wall. Many people shared it, as it’s exciting – that the voice of Latinos can be so strong in the USA!
Well, I heard very quickly from my comadrita. I find Carmen’s response so important and quite thought-provoking. It tells a tale that is true for countries around the world with new immigrant voters, I believe, and I’ve received her permission to share it with you here.
“Comadrita, I wish, but too many issues here. First, I wonder about the numbers who really vote and are well informed, even if the total figure is huge. I’m working on this where I teach because some Latino voters have called me the night before election day to ask me, ‘Who do I vote for?’ Or doubting if they should vote. Their thinking is if they don’t study hard about who they need to vote for, maybe it’s better not to exercise their vote — sounds almost sacrilegious.
I think we need neutral political education for new voters like many Latinos, but it doesn’t happen, unfortunately. I want us to be prepared to vote, not only exercise a right that is precious. That’s why later some people blame the victims! And, maybe rightly so.”
[Additional comment from Carmen the following day:] “Dianne, I started reading the article, but I don’t like that journalists give misleading information and manipulate facts, exaggerating such as YO DECIDO. Out of the 50.5 million Hispanic/Latinos they mention, or 17% of the total US population, not all of these can vote, of course. About 10.2 million according to the Census 2010 are not authorized in the U.S. (undocumented) and of course there are more in actuality. This brings us down to 40.5 million potential voters. BUT, from this number there are those under 18 years of age, which roughly I calculated looking at last Census data to be in the 18-20 million range. The recent Census data show roughly one in four children under the age of 10 in the U.S. are Hispanic.
So we don’t really have 50.5 million voting if we take out 30 million not able to vote! This leaves us with 20 million potential voters. Do all vote? Unfortunately not so. I’m trying to educate those who can vote from among these 20 million in my community. They are adorable, but not interested in politics rather focusing on survival. The education of these potential voters will take a long time.
On the other hand, the manipulation of numbers is unbelievable as we all know. I see it as a big scheme for what? I wish, I wish we could all vote and we could actually be 50.5 million and not for example only 13.7% possible voters in Colorado. So I don’t get how we will pick the next President.
We are as diverse in political issues as in religion and socioeconomics. The Miami Cubans seem to have little in common with the Sacramento Mexicans or the New Mexico Hispanics or the Chicago Latinos. But if they want to present us as a common strong block that’s their prerogative, but misleading after all.