Saturday, August 11, 2007

Latino Activism in La Gran Manzana, Nueva York

What is going on in the post-9/11, post-Young Lords, post-poverty programs, neoliberal New York? This time is also the time that New York's Latino population has moved from being a predominantly Puerto Rican community to a vast and diverse Latino population. Once 116th Street in Manhattan's Spanish Harlem was the heart of the Latino community, and now there are many heart's or Latino epicenters. Queens' Roosevelt Avenue is probably one of the biggest Latino neighborhoods. Despite our large numbers, many of the struggles of the past still continue. While Latinos have made many strives in many areas, much is still to be done. Many of the important issues of the past were racism, discrimination, drugs, housing, health, Latino Studies programs in colleges, police brutality, education, jobs, housing, and homelessness. These issues still exist and are still very relevant. Certainly, we are not living in the 60s or 70s anymore, and we cannot address these issues as we did in the past. Undoubtedly, the youth of today are not as concerned as those of the past. There is a great lack of concern for la comunidad. Nowadays, assimilation is the name of the game. Even hiphop is no longer an indigenous culture that the Latino and Black youth aqui produce. We used to be active participants, whereas youth of today are passive recipients of the culture via MTV and BET. Alianza Islamica has died, and the Islamic alternative for Latinos is not as vibrant (if it at all exists) as it once was. The days of East Harlem’s many poverty programs (often called poverty pimps) are over. Where does one go to find the leaders of the Latino community(ies)? There are very few Latino radio or TV shows that speak about the community concerns. Even the progressive radio station Pacifica/WBAI no longer has the show "Latino Journal." There is only a few music shows on Sunday, which are there to "fill the gap." The technical divide between white Americans and people of color is ever increasing. How many of our youth really are skilled in modern technology, besides being about to go on the 'net to their MySpace account or being able to listen to there iPods?

Let me know your thoughts...
Khalil Al-Puerto Rikani

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