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Jackson and Latino Voters

August 23, 1988

Many colleagues and fellow political activists are incensed at the tremendous disservice done by the authors of the article "Latinos Snub Jackson--Is It Racism?"--by Antonio H. Rodriguez and Gloria J. Romero (Op-Ed Page, July 15). Both exhibit the shallowness in their political analysis and seriously make one question their political motivations. In fact, the very voting figures they present disprove their hypothesis which turns into a spurious charge, i.e., "Among Latinos the fact is that they helped perpetuate the color line of politics by voting against Jackson." The very opposite is true.

In California 40% of Latinos voted for Jackson whereas only 18% did in 1984. In Texas, the Latino vote for Jackson jumped from 9% to 21%. The reasons the Jackson camp didn't garner a larger share of the relatively small vote lie elsewhere. Let's not blame the victim! Only 46% of the registered voters turned out to cast their ballot. This says much for both the Jackson and Michael Dukakis camps and the present political state of mind of the voters and the low level of organization among the grass roots. Anyone close to the Jackson campaign is fully aware of the organizational meagerness at the precinct level--and disparities this year even in comparison to the 1984 race. The stronger showing at the polls and the "appearance" of a better run campaign in 1988 can be attributed to the greater media exposure and a high-tech campaign made possible by an enhanced financial situation. Jackson's positions on the social issues and the broadening of the Rainbow constituency was nevertheless key.

Yes, our candidate Jackson stands solid on our issues, has walked the picket lines with us and raised his voice repeatedly as an advocate of our views. What the authors fail to grasp, however, is that the base campaign did not match these forward stances and politics by the candidate. In other words, the vote was not organized.

If an anti-black vote exists in the Latino community, what explanations do the authors present for a multiple-term black Los Angeles mayor, for black council members, and legislators with significant Latino populations in their districts? That Latinos are infected by racism, and particularly anti-black sentiments among a minority sector, cannot and should not be denied. This is a plague in all communities as are anti-Latino sentiments. Latino voters are more mature and sophisticated than Rodriguez and Romero give them credit for.

NATIVO VIGIL LOPEZ

Santa Ana

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