Deadline Now: Claudia Annoni and Bob Vasquez
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Deadline Now: Claudia Annoni and Bob Vasquez

Friday, September 9, 2011

Deadline Now explores local issues that affect our region, with a special focus this week on the Latino community. Host Jack Lessenberry's special guests include Robert Vasquez, President of the Toledo Public School Board of Education, and Claudia Annoni, Associate Editor of La Prensa. Until recently, Ms. Annoni was the interim director of Adelante Latino Resource Center.

On the web:
On the web:

Here are Jack Lessenberry's Final Thoughts for this edition of Deadline Now:

Several years ago, the hugely popular and highly realistic television show The West Wing ended its run with the election of a Hispanic American President of the United States.

That may happen in our lifetimes. Indeed, I would have guessed we’d have a Hispanic president before a black one.

Having more diversity in the White House would be nice. But what is far more important is that all of us appreciate the degree to which Latino Americans have helped shape and continue to shape our culture and our nation. Last week I had a long interview with Rick Snyder, the newly elected governor of Michigan.

He is a self-made multi-millionaire who earned three college degrees before he was twenty-four. But when I asked him if he had any regrets in life, he said only two. He wishes he had lived abroad for a while, and he wishes that he had become fluent in Spanish.

Contrast that with what a college advisor told me back in 1970. Learn French, German or Russian, he said. Spanish isn’t important.

That was wrong even then, and it is even more wrong today. What’s even more wrong, however, is to lump all people of Hispanic origin together.  Jennifer Aniston and an illiterate farm mechanic I once knew in Tennessee both have North European genes.

They also have absolutely nothing in common. Hispanic Americans include migrant workers whose parents came from Mexico, and blonde, blue-eyed Cuban aristocrats. The former tend to vote Democratic; the latter, Republican.

But not always.

Today, one of the most vibrant parts of Detroit is the southwest corridor, which has become home to a fast-growing mainly Mexican-American population. In Toledo, while the overall population declined during the last ten years, Hispanic population increased dramatically.

Today, there are more than twenty thousand Hispanic Toledoans, with more in the suburbs. They are adding immeasurably to the scene. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have problems to overcome, some as a result of discrimination, and some not. Addressing some of those problems are what the private social welfare group Adelante is all about.

My guess is that within a few generations, the terms Latino and Hispanic-Americans will be regarded as out of date.

Instead, we’ll have people with a lot of colors and backgrounds, some of whom have Spanish-sounding surnames, and some who don’t. And if we’re lucky, they will have all helped create a better economy and society than we are experiencing today.