We Are One: Preschoolers know more than Trump voters


In the lobby of the school where I work, there is a huge image of Earth taped onto the wall. It is made of kraft paper and crisscrossed with colorful broad strokes of tempera paint.

Circling the perimeter of the planet are cutout drawings of children holding hands. No two children are the same, partly because of the way the preschoolers scribbled and colored them in.

Above the planet are the words “WE ARE ONE.”

Mas…We Are One: Preschoolers know more than Trump voters

Can you spot the Latino in this photograph?

salvadorlitvakI’m pretty sure I was the only redhead at the NYU Latino Law Students Association Gala in the spring of 1990. The food was delicious, my date looked stunning, and I was glad I had jumped on the opportunity when I received the LALSA invitation.

My journey to that moment began 25 years earlier. I was born in Santiago, Chile in 1965: a third generation Chilean on my father’s side (whose people came from Odessa), and first generation on my mother’s side, who arrived when she was 12 from Hungary.

We left Chile in 1970 after the election of socialist president Salvador Allende. For Mom, socialism was close enough to the Soviet regime she’d fled in Hungary.

I started kindergarten at P.S. 81 in the Bronx. With a curly mop of flaming red hair and speaking only Spanish, I immediately embarked on a lifelong career of not fitting in. I learned English fast, but I still felt like an outsider. I got into X-Men comics because I identified with the mutants.

Mas…Can you spot the Latino in this photograph?

True Story: I was a teenaged guera, white like Jesus too

bigblondejesusIn 1969, my mother registered to vote as a member of La Raza Unida, an independent “third party.”

When she came home and shared the news with her father — declaring that she was a “Chicana” — he grew angry.

He told her never to use that word, since “Chicano” was a derogatory term when he was growing up.

Despite my mother’s defiance of the patriarchal family regime that day, she never talked much about the importance of our Mexican heritage or exploring the values of Xicanisma.

Mom did send me to an all-girls Catholic high school, however, and maybe that was an attempt at showing me empowerment for women. The school was in 75% white Glendora, though, so our Jesus statues were white (photo, above), just like our feminism. 

Mas…True Story: I was a teenaged guera, white like Jesus too

Bidi bidi bom bom: ‘What ARE you?’ she asked

bidibom“What ARE you?” the Indian woman behind the counter asked.

I was at a Dunkin’ Donuts in New York City grabbing coffee. After handing me my change, the Indian woman wanted to know where I was from.

This happens often — whether I’m at a restaurant, an adult video store or a funeral. Inevitably someone will ask, “What are you?”

They ask in a way as if I look like the Elephant Man.

And then I realize that their question is one about my cultural identity.

Mas…Bidi bidi bom bom: ‘What ARE you?’ she asked

What’s in a trend? Google tracks ‘Latino’ and ‘Hispanic’ over time

ngramHispanic or Latino? This question comes up all the time, and not just during Hispanic Heritage Month, which we insist on calling Latino Heritage Month.

Is there a trend? We asked the Google NGram Viewer to search their big index of published books to see how many times the word “Latino” and the word “Hispanic” were used over time.

Mas…What’s in a trend? Google tracks ‘Latino’ and ‘Hispanic’ over time

Don’t call me a ‘Mexican,’ America! Also, I’m not a ‘Latino’

HispanosAgaintsLatinoTermIt’s a phenomenon older than the United Estates of America. We’ve named it Looking Down On More Recent Immigrants Syndrome:

Last week three latter-day Looking Down Syndrome sightings lit up our screen, INSISTENT MESSAGES from people who want you to know THEY ARE DEFINITELY NOT THOSE OTHER PEOPLE OVER THERE — those Mexicans and/or Latinos.

Mas…Don’t call me a ‘Mexican,’ America! Also, I’m not a ‘Latino’