Buffalo Latino VILLAGEAlberto O. Cappas: born in Puerto Rico in 1946, raised in NYC, graduated of SUNYAB, poet, writer, and publisher. Presently serves Chair of Puerto Rican Committee for Community justice (PRCCJ), publisher, Buffalo Latino Village, and author of “The Educational Pledge” (theeducationalpledge.com), and co-founder, the Campeche Art Gallery (campecheartgallery.com) in Buffalo, NY.
WHY WE NEED TO SUPPORT AND INVEST IN OUR COMMUNITY CANDIDATES
Honest and loyal representation in our community is going to cost money, to sustain it, to maintain it, and to grow our communities.
One of the major problems we have in our communities is that we don’t invest in our candidates, and we don’t vote!
You know what happens when we don’t supply our support to our candidate/s running for office?
The interest groups, and other people outside our communities, take the advantage and take opportunity to invest, donate, contribute, and support them.
By the time our candidates get elected into office, they no longer belong to our community. The people that invested in them get the goodies and the right to control them.
They got him or her elected — not us!
The next time your local candidate comes to you for help, do the right thing for your people, and for yourself and family:
Register to vote – this is a must in our democracy. If you don’t vote, you can’t complain!
Research your candidate, find out about what your candidates stands for, look at his or her experience with the community.
If you like what you find out, contribute anything you can, $5, $10, $15, etc., and if you can give more, give more.
Spend the word to your friends and family to support your candidate and encourage them to donate what they can to help him or her get elected.
If you have the time, get involve directly by working with the committee working to get him or her elected. There is so much you can do for the candidate, just by volunteering one to three or four hours per day or for the whole week. The little time you give your candidate can turn out to be a big thing for our community.
If we do all these things, the candidate becomes a product of the community, becomes your candidate, and not of the political machine, not of the outside interest groups.
American politics is very serious, and the sooner we realize it, the sooner we can grow and advance the future of our own community — socially, educationally, and economically.
Look at the political principle of this city: “You have to pay to play, and, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
Well folks, let’s stop the political abuse, and let us begin to develop our own “game in the interest of our people, our children and youth.
REGISTER, EDUCATE YOURSELF, LEARN ABOUT WHO’S WHO IN YOUR COMMUNITY….
Remember, when you say that you’re not interested in politics, that in itself is a political statement. Help, and join those that are working to bring respect and quality representation to your community.
Don’t wait for me to say, “I told you so?”
Too many people in our community complain and cry about government service, but don’t do anything about it.
This year, we find a lot of young and committed individuals running for office, and many of them will not make it to the June Primary, but their energy and spirit will remind, and we can begin to plant a seed from that effort.
The Buffalo Latino Village has many public statements, even has endorsed independent candidates running against the Democratic machine, and because of that, we have lost some support and advertisement for the publication, but we are willing to take a stand, sacrifice, because we know that these are things that must be done in order to develop respect for our community; yes, even if I, personally, take a hit.
We are committed to be around for the long run, we are not going anywhere.
This a rough draft, work in progress….
Read, review, and share in discussion with your friends and family members.
I came to Buffalo in 1967 to attend UB, and before I left in 1987, I was a man, no longer a student. Yes, from 67-85, I gave it my best to help bring the Puerto Rican/Latino community a respectable standing in the political community. We create many programs and services, many that are around today with a different name, and with different “so-called” founders, who were not around to be founders of anything.
But that is another story.
We just need to grow and develop, we need to be creative, imaginative, work to make our young people proud of their Puerto Ricanism, of their Dominicanism… We must carve out a piece of the action for our community. All other communities have their territory, their commissioners, their elected officials, and their countless number of businesses.
We too are entitled to have a dream.
THE QUESTION OF BEING FORCED TO BE “HISPANIC”
I’m jack of all trades, but master of none, but one thing I know. I’m Puerto Rican, not Hispanic.
The two terms, Hispanic and Negro, were not terms that both our communities selected. They were assigned to us by the United States.
The term Hispanic is what the conquistadors used to label and oppress the natives (Boricua or Taino) when “discovering” the land about 500 years ago. Hispanic embodies the bloodshed of the Indigenous and discredits the culture that was native to the lands before stolen by the colonizers.
During the 1970s, for the US Census, to have an effective control in counting the numbers of Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and Cubans, came up with the term “Hispanic.”
Then the US reinforced it by convincing the three groups that by using the “Hispanic” term, umbrella, they would be in a much better position to get federal funding.
After that, Hispanic appeared all over America. Here in Buffalo, you find that although over 80% of the Buffalo & Erie County Latino population is Puerto Rican, they classify themselves as Hispanics. You can witness this by the names of your local Puerto Rican/Latino organizations: Hispanics United of Buffalo, Hispanic Women’s League, Hispanic Heritage Council, Association of Hispanic Art, and the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Parade (added Hispanic a few years ago, when they were told it was easier to get funding if they used the term Hispanic).
What do these organizations have in common? Non-profit organization status and government funding.
The government even developed “Hispanic Heritage Month” to cement the deal, which was easily adopted by 90% of Latino groups.
The term Latino describes a geographically derived national origin group. It refers to people originating from or having a heritage related to Latin America. “Latin” refers to the romance languages (Spanish, Portuguese and French) spoken by Latin Americans.
Puerto Rico is part of Latin America. Latin America includes Mexico, Central and South America and all the barrier islands of the Caribbean that speak Spanish, Portuguese, or French.
Furthermore, Puerto Rico, along with Cuban, and Santo Domingo, are part of the Latin America experience — human slavery, violence, torture, and genocide. That is why they are all part of the “African and Latino Diaspora.”
It is very hard, but many Puerto Rican groups, including writers, poets, musicians, are trying to bring consciousness back, but its difficult due to the many years of mental conditioning, mental colonialism, and the tons of money the Feds throw at these organizations.
It is an uphill battle.
I would like others to add their take on this subject, pro or con.
Feel free to inform me, educate me, or correct me, as I’m always willing to learn from my community and colleagues.
A Puerto Rican in Buffalo by way of New York City by way of PUERTO RICO….
HOW DO LATINO AND BLACK CONCERNS DEFER?
Black and Puerto Rican/Latino Issues/Concerns…. Are they the same in both communities?
We are both abused and manipulated by the same political system, of cause, with the blessing and support of our elected and community leaders.
We are one family but divide and conquer has done a good job at keeping us separated. Our communities need to take the time to reach out to each other, and work on a common political agenda to improve our social, economic, and political situation.
The funded agencies in both our communities are nothing but political posts taking orders from city hall and provides no essential service except for the overdose of social services. Both our communities have been stripped of our imagination, creativity, leadership, and the vision to create a better community.
We should have an all-day Black and Puerto Rican/Latino conference to begin to address and identify the work we need to do “together” to secure a healthy and “thinking” future generation.
I hope this answered your question. If not, let this serve as the beginning of the talks we need between both communities….