Get an education pendejo!
Commentary by Ramón Pérez
Getting an education is the biggest and most important challenge Mexican-Americans will probably ever face in their lifetime. As you may know, knowledge comes in many forms, including academic, economic, political, and societal, such as raising your familia.
These four categories are all crucial areas to understand, especially if you know our current standing in the United States and more so in Toledo of Northwest Ohio. There is still a major divide that is widening, almost daily, between Mexican-Americans’ sub-standard of living and most other groups who live in the United States.
To this day, there is still no grassroots plan in place to improve our deteriorating living conditions in Toledo, Ohio, or in the U. S. So, get an education pendejo!
Many Mexican/Latino organizations have come and gone and the ones that are still around are still incapable of moving us out of poverty and improving our quality of life in any noticeable or measurable way.
Most opinion leaders will argue that the people themselves are responsible for moving themselves out of poverty. While I agree, then why are these state and local Latino organizations in existence? Who are they really serving? It can’t be for our gente, because we are still living in poverty more so than most other groups.
You can’t have it both ways. The old and sometimes young leadership are still stuck with antiquated ideas and strategies about how to organize us to the next level. We are our own worst enemy when it comes to overcoming the Mexican-American collective psyche, with all its complexities, and delivering us from our own cultural incompetence.
Our leaders are too afraid or incompetent to get out into the barrios and start the movement. All the while, the power of our people is right in front of us; on Starr, Broadway, Segur, Vinton, and Bancroft Strets, and in cities such as Perrysburg, Bowling Green, Napoleon, Fremont, Defiance, and Wauseon,…and the list goes on.
We are everywhere, and yet nowhere!
Up to now, Latinos/as have made marginal progress in all areas of their quality of life. Local, state and national studies continue to show Latinos are basically still at the bottom of the educational, political, economical, and health totem pole. Already this year, I have cut out many articles from Latino, Black, and Anglo newspapers, emails, and magazines highlighting the minimal-to-no progress among Mexican-Americans and it is just too painful and embarrassing to give you the facts again, and again, and again.
Although, a few months back, I attended a gathering of Latino “leaders” in downtown Toledo when it was revealed that only 2% to 4% of Latinos voted in the 2005 November local election. Also, each year, 1.2 million children don’t graduate from high school. Of those, 300,000 are Latino. Need I say anymore!
“Get an education pendejo!” is about learning our status in the United States and then taking responsibility for our own problems. Most national and local Latino organizations have been ineffective in this area. They won’t leave their usual meeting rooms or comfort zones and hit the streets. They don’t know how!
We are stuck as a people who have yet to realize the power “in collective numbers” of our people. Us, Y/our parents, relatives, nuestra gente, collectively have to stop being satisfied with high school dropouts, families living in poverty, and not having real political power to change our poor living conditions. Otherwise, the Anglos and Blacks will continue taking care of us.
In 2006, Mexican-Americans in Ohio will have another opportunity to choose the next governor, attorney general, auditor, treasurer, secretary of state, two Supreme Court judges, all 99 state representatives, and 17 of 33 state senators. Locally we have primaries in May, the selection of a new Toledo Public School superintendent, and November elections for Lucas County commissioner, auditor, and so forth.