Thu, Aug

¡Ya Basta Del Racismo Nuevo! (Enough is Enough of the New Racism!)

ALPERN AT LARGE - While it's understood in politics (as in war) that "might makes right", it's also understood that "you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time".  Which is precisely what's going on with the attempt of Gloria Molina and others to "create a new Latino district" among the five county supervisorial districts.


Such a district would be carved out of County Supervisor Don Knabe's district, which roughly comprises the southern portion of the Westside, the South Bay, Long Beach and much of the Southeast Cities.  

While I doubt that I'm the only one who's looked at Knabe's U-shaped district and wondered about its logic, it's also true--to quote Knabe spokeswoman Cheryl Burnett--that "there's nothing that currently prevents a Latino from running for, and being elected as, supervisor of any of the five county supervisorial seats."

Kind of like the City of LA, despite its own racist history, electing a Latino Mayor.  Kind of like the United States, despite its own racist history, electing an African-American President.

Furthermore, there's that little talking point of Don Knabe being in close touch with his constituents because, as Knabe spokeswoman Burnett pointed out, "The supervisors and their offices know the issues ... and know what their constituents expect and need."  

This critical point was borne out in testimony of an ethnically-diverse coalition last Tuesday who defended Don Knabe as their responsive and duly-elected county representative. (Link) http://www.latimes.com/topic/politics/don-knabe-PEPLT007520.topic
As quoted by the LA Times, Raymond Chavarria of the United Cambodian Community group said it best:  "Do not isolate one ethnic group against the other."

As for Gloria Molina, one has only to look at her own district's track record to wonder who has better represented her constituents (Latino or otherwise) in her district--Ms. Molina or Mr. Knabe?

Furthermore, how would a non-Latino constituent expect to be treated by a supervisor or other elected official who was "elected as a Latino"?  

It's not hard to presume that we'll see more elected officials who are Latino--and elected by non-Latinos, to boot--but it is safe to presume that a broad coalition of diverse, ethnic voters won't be electing too many "ethnic pols" like Gloria Molina.  

Whether a voter is white, brown, black, yellow or any other color of the rainbow, the need for a focus on the color GREEN (as in money, or perhaps jobs, or any other financial opportunity) is more paramount than ever.  

After decades of trying to reverse racist tendencies in our society, our reward should hardly be to have people elected to make sure there "enough white people" or "Latinos" or any other ethnic group in a given area of government.  

There are enough Latino or African-American or Asian individuals of talent in our society that they need not promote their ethnicity as a significant reason for political support.  

President Obama or Mayor Villaraigosa have succeeded or failed not because of their race but because of their actions and/or governing paradigms.  

President Obama took out the monster who caused 9/11, and Mayor Villaraigosa was the man who finally got major transit projects built after decades of endless and useless debate--and anyone who is too caught up with their ethnic backgrounds probably looks a bit silly.  

More than a bit silly, frankly.  Besides, as more mixed-race individuals take an increased role in business and politics, this whole "race-based" political thing must be rather confusing, and a ridiculous waste of energy, thought and time.

We know what old-fashioned racism is, and as a society we did and still do reject it.  We don't need a new obsession with race--a New Racism--to rear its ugly head and negate all our progress to date.  If we want to keep neighborhoods together and redistrict because of geography, that makes a lot of sense.

But to ensure a racial makeup of our Board of Supervisors when we already can change it with our electoral process?

Forget it ... enough!  ¡Basta!  Enough!

(Ken Alpern is a former Boardmember of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Vice Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at [email protected] . The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.) –cw

Tags: LA County, Supervisor, Gloria Molina, Don Knabe, Latino, African American, President Obama, Cambodian, United Cambodian Community, Raymond Chavarria, Mayor Villaraigosa, race-based, racism, new racism

Vol 9 Issue 65
Pub: Aug 16, 2011