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Are We Mexicans or Mexican’ts?
Commentary by Ramón Pérez

Latinos are still way behind most other groups in completing high school and college, obtaining living-wage jobs, and increasing home-ownership because we still depend too much on whites, blacks, and unions to determine our social, economic, and political status across the United States and, in particular, here in NW Ohio. 

For example, Toledo Latino political wannabe’s recently stood in the all too familiar political welfare-line, as they usually do, hoping to be picked to serve on city council and/or on the Toledo Public School Board. Guess what? We weren’t picked. Again!

So the question begs, are we Mexicans or Mexican’ts?

 We desperately need to break the mold that most so-called Mexican-American leaders are still using, such as “voice our concerns,” as the same-o, same-o political approach to improve our education or economic status from where they were two or more generations ago.

And even if a few of our people do get in the political arena, their allegiance is mostly to whites, blacks, or the union because historically, at least in Toledo, they are the ones who have the political power, money, and organized voice.  

The generations of Latino men and women, working long and physically demanding poverty-wage jobs, are just about gone across the United States including in Toledo—unless you are a new arrival to the country and are starting from the bottom in order to provide better opportunities for your children.

Most Mexican-Americans living in NW Ohio have had at least two or three generations to produce high school and college graduates. Yet, much of our younger and older workforce are still in the service industry—cooking, serving, cleaning, changing (linen, tires, roofs, diapers, and so forth), stocking, nurses’ aiding, home health-care aiding, or everyone’s aiding.

Do we have professionals in the workforce? Of course!

But, when you have over a 60-percent dropout rate from high school and almost an equal amount from freshmen entering college, this is no longer acceptable!

And now, with even greater concern for Latinos’ economic future, a recently published article by The Blade about the new and upcoming job creations for our area via the Toledo-Lucas County Economic Development and Innovation Plan (TLCEDIP), commissioned by the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, clearly reveals that Latino parents and their school-bound children are nowhere near ready to meet the high technology workforce needed to insure that the employment demands of the non-manufacturing and service industry in this region are met.  

We have become so separated from each other that even, at the turn of the century, Emiliano Zapata recognized how slow in progress our people had become under Spanish rule when he said, “No hay una cosa mas triste que ver un esclavo satisfecho.”

Roughly translated, ‘There is nothing worse than to see a mexicano(a), who is satisfied being a school dropout, cleaning up after other people as a job, and no hope of raising their kids in their own home.’

Another profound and timely statement to keep in mind is “Si Se Puede.” Roughly translated for our times: we must reach into our neighborhoods and hold each other accountable to higher standards—socially, economically, and educationally, because the only handouts left are having no shame.

Editor’s Note: While very similar in appearance, the photo above does not depict Ramón Pérez but superhero Emiliano Zapata! ¡Viva Zapata! 






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