Sunday, June 23, 2002

Down New Mexico Way: The Washington Post's Dale Russakoff tells us about this year's contest for governor in New Mexico which features two candidates of Hispanic origin. Beyond the usual political details, the interesting part was that 42% of New Mexico's citizens are of Hispanic origin, but most were born in the USA.
In New Mexico, much more so than in Texas and California, relatively few Hispanics are new immigrants. Sanchez (the Republicam candidate) is a fifth-generation New Mexican who traces his ancestry to Spain and, like many Hispanics his age, is not fluent in Spanish.

When Republican National Committee Chairman Marc Racicot came here last month to announce a Spanish-language GOP television program "to communicate directly with the Hispanic community" in Albuquerque and five other cities, Albuquerque Tribune writer Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez fired off a column headlined, "Hola! GOP, we don't speak Spanish." She called the GOP show "the latest example of widespread confusion about the diverse group of people plopped together under the mythical 'Hispanic' umbrella."

Even if many Hispanics here resent outsiders who assume they speak only Spanish, the language carries powerful symbolism. Richardson
(the Democrat, Hispanic on his mother's side), who is fluent, is airing advertisements that feature him speaking Spanish. And the University of NM president, F. Chris Garcia, opines that Hispanics are learning Spanish as adults, and cultivating it in their own children. "It's the one thing every Hispanic takes pride in, wants to protect and promote"
It's a little hard to see how Garcia's opinion squares with the rest of the story, but it's nice to have a hobby, I guess. I like bluegrass music and it's surely part of my ethnic heritage; but since I can't play a lick, I'm not doing much cultivating. However, to stay in step with the latest trends: all candidates who want my vote must demonstrate proficiency with the banjo!