The following is another guest blog by David Molina detailing some of the Latino political participation in Oregon.
Yesterday evening, over a dozen Chicana/os and Latina/os, from locally elected to state appointed, from American educated to small business owners, from military veterans to health care workers, and from engineers to educators, gathered around to have a conversation with David Robinson, a candidate for Oregon’s First Congressional District, in the heart of the Silicon Forest in Hillsboro, Oregon. Long-time residents, Emilio & Adriana Cañas, graciously hosted candidate Robinson who is running against Congressman David Wu, whose district represents the northwest corner of Oregon, including Clatsop, Columbia, Washington, Yamhill counties, and a sliver of Multnomah County, Southwest Portland. Wu has represented the district since 1999.
Much has been written about the “sleeping giant,” the term coined during the 1950s by anthropologists referring to Mexican-Americans, further stereotyped by the media of a man sleeping under a cactus–an illustration of a quiet, inept and politically apathetic persona. The stereotype that Chicano/Latinos are politically apathetic is far from reality. In the 2008 U.S. Presidential election, New Mexico Governor Richardson, ran but ultimately conceded and put his weight behind Barack Obama, who ultimately won the presidency. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, current Secretary of State Pedro Cortez is the first Latino to hold that seat. Oregon’s first Latina Superintendent of Public Instruction and former State Senator Susan Castillo and Oregon’s first Latina to serve on the Democratic National Committee is D.F. born Lupita Maurer, a Washington County Democrat-activist is indicative that there is no such thing as the sleeping giant. While the ‘giant’ has historically been excluded from “formal” political activities and institutions, Chicano/Latinos have long been politically active, as organizers, participants, and leaders in their respective communities, workplaces, and political organizations.
Robinson who is a commander in the U.S. Navy shared his diverse experience, ranging from his military deployments to the Horn of Africa in support of Operation Enduring Freedom to his experience in the classroom at the Naval Academy. He shared with us his thoughts on leadership, community involvement and national security. He shared his vision on quality education, affordable health care, the economy, small business challenges, and comprehensive immigration reform. He listened intently to questions from Hillsboro School Board member, Adriana Cañas, about public education support, teacher compensation and the need for more vocational schooling.
In homes across Oregon, across the United States, Latinos will continue to invite candidates running for local, state and national elected office because we care about the future. We care about our children and our parents more than anything else. We care about the state of our economy, affordable health care, quality education, good jobs and a chance at the American dream. We’ve purchased homes, cars and sent our students to the best universities available. We understand that the rise and fall of our communities starts with each of us. David Robinson understands that when you run for Congress, reaching out to people in their homes, is critical. Over wine, pico de gallo, good food and laughter, we welcomed him into our home because he wasn’t afraid to ask questions, learn about Latino issues, and be himself. ¡Salud!