Today I was at Plaza Fiesta in Atlanta, for the Mexican and Central American Independence Day celebration, when someone approached me about comments I had made a couple of days ago as the co-host (sidekick) on the "Hablemos con Teodoro" radio show on Radio Información 1310 AM.
I had quoted an editorial in the New York Times blasting Obama for his latest betrayal of the Latino community. After dismissing Obama's specious explanation, the Times says, "The real reason ... is that the midterm elections are upon us, and Mr. Obama ... didn’t want to jeopardize Democratic control of the Senate. As for the immigrants ... they were once again seen as safely expendable.
"A political emergency collided with a human one, and the humans lost."
That last line had a really nice ring to it and I had said on air this was especially welcome coming from such a notoriously anti-Latino newspaper as the New York Times. The listener who came up to me wanted to know why I had said the Times was notoriously anti-Latino. The editorial sounded pretty good to her.
Well, first, because while it is true that I may be getting fat and old, the flip side of that coin is that an elephant never forgets. In the 1970s and early 80s, when I lived in New York and read that newspaper religiously, I remember the Times railing time and again against bilingual and bicultural education, such as in a 1975 editorial with the poetic, symbolic headline "Divisive Languages." (Don't bother following the link unless you're already a subscriber: they'll try to hit you for $4 for an editorial that's not worth 4 cents. The title says it all: if you let people keep on speaking languages other than English, slit your wrists. You're heading straight to disaster. Just like Canada. Canada, I tell you!!!)
But, of course, then there's today. The Times's Editorial Board has 18 people on it. There is not a single Latino among them, or if there is, they are completely undercover. Then there are the regular columnists. They have 12; none of us there either. Finally the top editors listed on the Masthead. There are 10 people listed as responsible for the presentation of the news.
That's a total of 40 people. There's not a single Latino that I could find, not even your token Mexican self-hater or right-wing Cuban. Add the 16 corporate/business bigwigs on the masthead, and its still zilch city. Or if there is some Mr. Smith or Mrs. Jones on there who is Latino, why are they and the Times hiding their background?
That is astonishing: New York City is 27.5% Latino, the metro area 24.2%, one out of four. The New York Times doesn't even have one out of 40. Or 56.
You cannot get a result like that without a culture that is profoundly racist, chauvinist and exclusionary. Where people are holding hands thinking they are singing kumbaya without realizing that with the burning crosses, to someone like me it looks just like a Klan meeting.
And it is not just the Times.