A Latino Giant Awakens

By Alberto Moreno

On this post-election November morning, brown us wakes to a different America. Wakes to a less kind America. Wakes to a divided, unequal America. Wakes to an unforeseen unimagined Trump presidency.

Trump who has described us as “criminals,” as “drug mules,” as “rapists.” Trump who has threatened and threatens now to deport our families. Trump who wants to profit from the permanent militarization of a border wall while using our “illegal” work to build his real estate empire. This Trump. This hate elevated to the highest office in the land.

It is true that over the past year we have been spoken to. Spoken to unsweetly. Spoken to unkindly. Spoken to indecorously. Hate’s jawbones have spewed out profanities, profanely, against our tender skin. Against our mothers, against our children, black and brown.

And I am grateful to Mr. Trump. And to his uninformed followers.

Why you may ask? I am grateful because their loud intolerant noise, have finally awakened us from our slumber. They have prodded. Have threatened our children and our families long enough, unkindly enough to awaken us from our own apathy. From our own inaction.

We saw this in the election results. Saw this in Florida and in California and all across this Nation. A giant rising. A giant, unsteady but learning to speak the vernacular of choice. Saying no mas. Basta! Enough is enough.

Giant-us has been roused from our slumber. We have been manhandled enough by hate. Ignorance has had its say. For a long time now we have gazed into the horizon. Expectant. Waiting for others to deliver us. For someone to rescue Mexican us, Guatemalan us, Salvadoran us, Dominican us, immigrant us. But we have grown tired of waiting. Have realized finally that “we are the ones we have been waiting for.” That no one else can speak for us, stand for us, but us.

Not only are we waking, learning to speak up but we are rooting down too. We are remembering that contrary to what you or we have been told, this continent is the cradle of our birth. And we are not leaving. Our children, born here are not leaving. And they will not soon forget how their parents have been treated.

We are learning that we are not helpless. Nor do we insist on a narrative of dependence. In my role as Chair of the Commission on Hispanic Affairs, we recently commissioned a statewide survey of Latino priorities. And what came back is in stark contrast to the story that gets told about us. Our community did not tell us that they wanted welfare, free food or handouts. Instead, they told us that they wanted opportunities for employment. Think about this: Our community is not asking that others give us a free hand out. They are saying in unequivocal terms, give us a job and we can take care of those other things for ourselves and our families.

We are not helpless or powerless. We are instead, a people defined by, our beautiful irrational optimism.

Our very migration here is an act of hope and faith. And while others may think of us as disease vectors alone, we carry, upon our backs, not only hope but an undying optimism: That it is possible to sow through our work and sweat, a better life for our children.

We portage within the sacred helix of our very DNA, resilience, and resistance. That it is this propensity for resistance, for justice, for the hope which is our greatest strength.

And we are growing as a community. Latinos are now the largest ethnic group in the US. But the simple majority does not mean equality or equity. We need to do more. Act more, speak more, vote more. Too long now we have been defined by our resounding silence.

Today I would invite us to remember that silence is hope in repose. That we have to stop speaking sweetly to injustice. We must raise our voices. Speak truth to power and end our narrative of silence.

I worry that as a community, we are waiting for a single leader to deliver us.   For a single leader to emerge and end the injustices faced by immigrant us. But I don’t think this is how it works. I think leaders like Cesar or Martin were just a mindfulness bell. Their lives an invitation to us to help keep the promise of justice for all of us.

I want to suggest on this November, here, that you are this legacy resting. That you are this justice, waiting.

Today we serve notice to President-Elect Trump. There are now over 55.3 million Latinos in the United States. And each month 50,000 Latinos become eligible to vote. Each and every month. And they will remember who treated them unkindly. Who kept their promises Left or Right. Let there be no doubt. And we remind him again, that any party which ignores this reality risks political irrelevance for generations to come. Let that be clear.

The Latino Giant has been awakened. And for this, I want to say, Gracias, Mr. Trump!