Latinos: People, not a pie chart. By Ise Lyfe

In the past few weeks the news has been ringing with presidential election hoopla and correspondence. CNN hasn’t called me yet but I’ve been waiting on the call.


 I’ll pull something out of the pot of pretend stew that I feel is worthy of expounding upon:

 "Obama and Romney fight for the Latino vote" and headlines of the like have been plastered all over newspapers, news shows and blog sites the past few weeks. 

 The normal reaction that people are having to such an outright weird vibe thing (that’s my political mumbo jumbo) it’s shocking to me. What I’m speaking of is the totally public (and balls swinging) tokenization of Latinos made no attempt to add even a hint of human into their analysis when publishing an article by Amy Roberts titled: 

 "By The Numbers: Latino Voters" 

 I mean gyadayum! Isn’t the notion of electoral politics is that people, who are actually people, are deserving of consideration and representation by the political offices that serve them because they are human and warranted of fair living?  

 The entire conversation in mainstream politics regarding Latinos is outright offensive (and I’m not even Latino!), seemingly on accident.

The conversation is more like, “due to the growing population of Latinos in America, the Republican and Democratic parties are really having to try to figure out how to get Latinos liking them.” Rather than, “due to the growing number of Latinos in America the Republican and Democratic parties are having to grow both their campaign and service initiatives to encompass and provide for this important facet of our nation.” 

But, well, no… Instead we have sentiments like this:


"If you oppose illegal immigration, it means you have a heart and a brain"

- Mitt Romney


Look, I’m a Cali dude. We don’t really have the whole Latino spectrum represented here. California has like 9 Puerto Ricans, 2 Cubans, and no Dominicans. What we do have (or should I say they have us being that its their land) is MEXICANS! I mean whoa we have Mexicans. Here’s a true story about how many Mexicans we have in California: 

In high school I was trying to get my boy Jose’s attention at lunch and I said, “Hey, Jose!”, and 30 kids turned around… True story. 

 And I’ll tell you something else- no one ever cared about Mexican’s when I was growing up. By no one, I mean no government/educational system.

No way Jose. There were no Spanish speaking translators, no Latino history assembly, and you damn sure never heard about a republican presidential candidate concerned with galvanizing Latino voters. However, Mitt Romney has corralled this jackass,

Marc Rubio 


 in an effort to attract Latino voters. As if Latinos are going to see this dude standing next to Mitt Romney and suddenly say, you know what holmes… Viva La Romney! 

Here’s my 2 pesos…  

 Latinos should not be discussed and mulled over in politics like a child that’s in the room and you’re talking about but never look at. To care about our Latino brothers and sister solely based on their growing population is simply being impressed with how much their having sex  and trying to capitalize on that. When I think about Latinos in America I think of a champion nation within a nation. I think of the United Farm Workers and a people with a brilliant resistance through the harshest forms of racism this country has had to offer. Many of our Latino brothers and sisters are stuck in the proverbial rut of America. At the bottom. Picking grapes, lettuce, and oranges- paid nothing behind the shadows of corporate owned trailers, under the skies fiercest heat. Or, caged in prisons by the literal million, washed up by gang injunctions and a discriminating court.  

 So as it is the case with all other ethnic minorities in this country, only a political party that is willing to address the harshest conditions of the people are deserving of the honor of standing among us and speaking on our behalf. Otherwise, orale gringo.  


After all these years we are still addressed as a separate part of the American society. Oddly, though we are the butt of the joke, we are the only ones in the room unaware that a joke is being told. 



Ise Lyfe (Oakland, CA) is an HBO Def Poet, Educator, and Executive Director of Lyfe Productives- a social marketing and education firm focused on product development.