The American political and sociological imagination is fixated on a civil rights trajectory for Hispanics/Latinos. As if the civil rights movement could be extended or repeated, Hispanic/Latino demographics are constantly cast in the shadow and path of African American progress. But is this reasonable and likely?
The notion that communities have leaders is as old as Plato’s Republic and perhaps the Magna Carta. But how true is that notion for ethnic communities in the US?
Is there a leader or group of leaders of the so called “White community”? Is there a leader or leadership group of the so called “Black community” today we can readily and unanimously point to? Is the concept of “community leadership” historically and politically valid when it comes to defining communities that are diverse and geographically dispersed?
Perhaps there have been important leaders of visible political movements that have made a significant impact on the popular mind; but making the argument that there are definitive leaders of an entire community may not be as valid as defining the leader of a social movement with an obvious leadership voice and sometimes face; such as the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King. But Hispanics/Latinos have not had such a national movement and they are as diverse as the continents and countries their ancestors come from. So why do we insist in assuming that Hispanic/Latino contributions to and demands from the American polity will follow the same trajectory?
Although Hispanics/Latinos have surpassed African Americans as the nation’s largest minority group and have even become majorities in large and small geographic regions, they will not likely follow the same trajectory of the American narrative that follows the slave trade, the antebellum south, the civil war and modern civil rights. Perhaps the significant potential of Hispanic/Latino contributions to the American mosaic will be the shaping of how so called “non-White groups” impact the so called “mainstream culture.”
So where does this leave us for today’s so called “Hispanic or Latino” community? Is the notion that disparate and diverse loosely defined social groups, that have a leader or group of leaders that can speak for them, still valid today?
Three-Fourths of Hispanics Say Their Community Needs a Leader | Pew Hispanic Center
“Three-quarters of Latinos living in the U.S. say that their community needs a national leader, but about the same share either cannot name one or don’t believe one exists, according to a new national survey of 5,103 Latino adults conducted by the Pew Research Center from May 24 to July 28, 2013.When asked in an open-ended question to name the person they consider “the most important Hispanic leader in the country today,” 62% say they don’t know and an additional 9% say “no one.”In a follow-up question on how important it is for the U.S. Hispanic community to have a national leader advancing its concerns, three-quarters of Hispanic adults say it is “extremely” 29% or “very” important 45%.”