It’s not a Cuban vs. Mexican thing – it’s a Latino thing

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Charlotte, N.C.Mayor Julian Castro of San Antonio gave the speech of his life yesterday at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. Today, the talk is not about his incredible story or his historic speech but it’s rather about stereotypes. It’s about how Castro, a Mexican-American, compares to Cuban-American Senator Marco Rubio.

Democratic National Convention, Barack Obama, Marco Rubio

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, a Mexican-American, delivered the Democrats’ keynote speech in Charlotte, N.C., Tuesday. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Castro and Rubio “stand as opposites in a cultural and political split that has divided millions of U.S. Latinos for decades,” according to an AP story “GOP spotlights  Cuban-Americans while Democrats highlight Mexican-Americans at conventions” and Fox News Latino headlined “Julian Castro vs. Marco Rubio, Mexicans vs. Cubans, a Political Fight for the Ages.” Really? Every media outlet and their mother picked up that story.

Seems to me like ‘dividing Latinos’ is exactly what that article wants to do.

That fight — that “political fight” — is bigger than Rubio versus Castro.  Latinos, we are in the fight of our lives to prove to this country that our political power is not just in the Hispanic headliners that spotlighted the Republican and Democratic National Conventions.

It’s just not about an Eva Longoria or a Marc Anthony using their celebrity status to garner media attention and public appeal.  That fight has to be fought at the polls on Nov. 6 when Latinos flex their political muscles and hit the polls to vote.

So, why is the media being so divisive?  Instead of praising historic speeches from two rising Latino stars, the media is generating stereotypes and creating animosity. As a dear friend would say, “Es que why?”

Isn’t the country as a whole more divided on both sides of the political spectrum?

We are not a monolithic group. We are so diverse culturally and politically — from the Dominicans in Washington Heights to the Mexican Americans in McAllen to the Colombians in Kendall. But, somehow, we need to meet halfway and demonstrate our political and economic clout.

It’s disappointing to see the pinning of one nationality against the other. Whether you are a Hispanic Republican or a Latino Democratic, there is simply no room for this ignorance. I give credit where credit is due and neither Rubio nor Castro deserve to be portrayed this way.

Democratic National Convention, Republican National Convention,

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., Aug. 30. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

We don’t deserve to be portrayed this way.

Both políticos share similar immigrant experiences, humble upbringings, good educations, solid family and religious values. And, now, they are two political Hispanics in the limelight who catapulted on the national stage. Maybe it will be Marco Rubio vs. Julian Castro for President in 2020?

So, it comes down to the meat. Is there really a Latino voting block? Is this a myth? Dare I say — an urban legend?

With redistricting this year in key states like Texas and New York, Hispanics across the country were hopeful that the demographic shift would be reflected in their elected officials. And, nada.

In the heated race between Sen. Adriano Espaillat, the first Dominican American elected to the New York state senate, and veteran U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel for the Congressional seat in Harlem, we saw that redistricting didn’t quite map out as expected. Espaillat lost by less than 1,000 votes.  It was like the “little engine that could.”

The reason — there was low turnout in the district.

Hope this doesn’t happen in November. Those 12 million projected Hispanic voters need to go to the polls. The Latino vote will help elect our next president, especially in swing states like Florida, Nevada and here in South Carolina.

Oh, and that “political fight for the ages?” That fight is for how we want America to move forward.

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