The tenure of the nation’s first African-American president has been met with a wide variety of critiques and praises from the diverse ethnic groups that call America home. Presidential success is often gauged by the ability to compromise and enhance the status quo of the ethnic groups that make up our great nation in troubling and difficult times.Read More
Written by Stephen Balkaran
While returning from a recent trip to Ellis Island, I had an opportunity to reflect on the 12 million immigrants that shaped and continue to define this great nation we call America. Yet, despite the notion of being a nation built by immigrants, America has always had a love-hate relationship with a nation that was built by immigrants. The 21st century love-hate version of this relationship is no different and has become a divisive political issue. I am always disappointed when critics question why comprehensive immigration reform matters. Seldom, do I argue with such critics, but given the interrelatedness of immigration and our nation, I do feel compelled to discuss the sad history of the treatment of immigrants.
The national dilemma of how to secure our borders has been one of our fundamental policy challenges for the last 20 years, not only for our national security interest and the war on terror but to also reduce the inflow of immigrants whom we often deem “illegals” or “undocumented.” The conclusion of the 44th and the commencement of the 45th presidency have again left a nation of immigrants scrambling to come to terms with comprehensive immigration reform and its ramifications. The American values and rich tradition in welcoming immigrants has been tested as our democracy now seeks to come to common ground on this ever important but controversial public policy. Yet this debate threatens to take away the best of who we are and fuel the ambivalence of what we can become as a society.
Comprehensive immigration reform has social, cultural and economic implications for America’s future that most of us cannot foresee. The status of some 12 million undocumented immigrants who have already shaped and defined a new American landscape remains in limbo as our politicians try to reach a compromise on how we address immigration reform. The question remains: how do we address this issue without incurring the backlash from human rights activists, American citizens and politicians. Also, can Congress pass legislation that is both constitutional and humane? There hasn’t been a time our country’s great history that a debate on immigration divided the nation as it has recently, leaving us searching for an American identity as to who we are and what we stand for as a nation of immigrants. This debate has left the United States of America divided along racial, ethnic, political lines never seen before and has touched the conscience of the nation. The debate has become such a divisive issue that policy-making has been defined by politics in the 2008, 2012 and 2016 presidential elections.
As history reminds us, undocumented immigrants have become the most convenient scapegoat for America’s social problems, thus anti-immigrant rhetoric has become prevalent and the norm throughout our political spectrum. Center to the immigration debate is amnesty as a pathway to citizenship for the 12 million human beings who are often referred to as “illegals” or “undocumented immigrants.” Yet despite this abrasive terminology, no human being is illegal. The issue of comprehensive immigration reform is aimed at all immigrants and Americans alike but focuses specifically on America’s flourishing Hispanic population and their socio-economic-political importance. The “Browning of America” and the continuing reshaping of America by Hispanics continue to define who we are and illustrate the best of what we can become as a nation of immigrants.
The comprehensive immigration reform debate goes far beyond the typical immigration debates on the loss of jobs, drain on our social system, criminality etc.; it now includes the debate “Building a Wall.” The economic, political and social clout of current immigrants is far more beneficial to the nation than our media, immigration critics and politicians point them out to be. Whatever the debates are, our American values, tradition of welcoming immigrants and our Americanism will be tested on how we approach and legislate new comprehensive immigration reform laws. This complicated but imperative public policy must be achieved by the new presidential administration for a number of reasons. It is imperative that this legislation be done in a humane, sensitive and compelling way that reflect the American values of embracing diversity and inclusion of all. Embodied in this reform legislation, one must be cautious, compassionate and not forget the watchwords of our immigrant history and our nation: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
First and foremost, comprehensive immigration reform must be done in a way that defines us as a nation that still champions human rights and diversity. As the leader of the democratic free world, history reminds us of our human rights violations: slavery, the Trail of Tears, the Mexican Repatriation Act and last but definitely not least, Japanese Internment. Hence, can we conclude that American history is doomed to repeat itself? Human rights become the center of the debates. How do we address families who have lived here undocumented for decades, their children who grew up in American communities who have established friends, loyalty and community relationships? We must be cautious and vigilant on how we plan to address America’s greatest resource—immigrants; it must be done with an approach filled with love and compassion. The breaking up and removal of families who have solidified their roots here is un-American, unconstitutional and it is not what we stand for as a country that professes tolerance, diversity and acceptance.
As we delve into the deep waters of American patriotism, the cultural backlash is based on the philosophy that many of the undocumented immigrants are unpatriotic towards America’s culture and refuse to be American. Hence, one would question what it is to be an American; is there a threshold to gauge our Americanism? This debate has not only generated dialogue about the continued role that Americanism plays in our society but has also posed the question of whether undocumented immigrants are truly committed to the “Land of the free and the home of the brave.” The issue should NOT be whether undocumented immigrants are loyal to America. That question was answered when undocumented men and women signed up and served in America’s military, fighting to protect and promote democracy throughout the world for a country that has remained uncommitted to them. It must be noted that some 38,000 military officials serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan wars were not American citizens. In fact, history has forgotten that Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez became one of the first casualties in Iraq; even though he did come to America illegally and died serving America’s cause. Hence, the question is not whether undocumented immigrants are loyal to America but whether America has lived up to its rich tradition of welcoming immigrants in a fair and impartial way.
Secondly, the debate has turned to the economic impact of these undocumented immigrants on American society. These economic arguments have been debunked by many economic pundits on the grounds that undocumented immigrants do not undercut wages nor are they a drain on social services. They, in fact, don’t take jobs that would otherwise go to Americans. The majority of undocumented immigrants are unskilled and thus never pose any economic threat for skilled jobs that are secured by legal residents or American citizens. In fact, economists have stated that undocumented workers actually compliment the economy and are the driving force behind our nation’s economic growth and prosperity.
In an interesting report released by the Social Security Administration in 2013, Stephen Goss, Chief Actuary for the Office, claimed that undocumented workers contribute about $15 billion a year to Social Security through payroll taxes. On the flip side, Goss also commented that these undocumented immigrants only receive about $1 billion in benefits since many of them are not eligible to receive these benefits that they paid into through payroll taxes. What is more astonishing, Goss noted in an interview for the New York Times that undocumented immigrants have contributed up to $300 billion, or nearly 10 percent, of the $2.7 trillion of the nation’s Social Security Trust Fund. In other words, their economic contribution and benefits to society far outreach many of the criticism undocumented immigrants face. The need to reach a humane solution on this immigration nightmare will ultimately benefit all Americans. Hence, there is a need to create a legal path to 12 million residents enabling them to come out of the shadows of despair and allow them to continue contributing to the American economic pie in a fair and just way that’s benefits all.
Thirdly, the immigration debate has now generated so much division in our society that it has become the “civil rights debate of 21st century.” Whatever the arguments are, many Americans have forgotten their commitment to the watch words of this great nation “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Immigrants who graced our country have played and will continue to play an important role in our country’s rich diverse culture. Yet we still forget about this contribution many immigrant groups make to this great country. Despite this success, many other immigrant groups have failed to step up to support our Hispanic brothers and sisters with the recent immigration debate. What differentiates Hispanics from other previous immigrant groups is their economic, social, political power to change and define a new America.
Last and by no means least is the argument that illegal immigration represents the breaking and outright disregard of American laws. We are a nation of laws. I do agree that our laws are to be respected, acknowledged and obeyed by all. As American patriot, reverend and civil rights activist Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. noted, there are two types of laws: just laws and unjust laws. King further elaborated one has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws, “but conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” Remember, that slavery, racism, removal of Native Americans from their land and Jim Crow segregation in American society was LEGAL, and King’s non-violence movement for civil rights and the Abolitionist movement in southern states were considered ILLEGAL in the eyes of the law. Seldom do I ever pause and critique our legal process, but Americans openly voiced their disgust on undocumented immigrants’ willingness to break our laws. Yet we refused to critique unjust laws and customs that haunt our national history. It becomes paradoxical in our society when many of our laws that have perpetuated many of our ignorant views and hatred towards others are obeyed and respected throughout our history. When we openly advocate obeying and disobeying laws that are there to maintain law, order and stability but at the same time fail to question the validity of those laws, we ultimately become immune to the hatred we create.
As an example, as long as there is criticism on undocumented immigrants for not paying their fair share of taxes, but at the same time Americans remain silent as the rich exploit “legal” loopholes to avoid paying federal taxes, we have the right to question the integrity of our laws.
America is only as great as the doors and opportunities we open to others. Success in America is not determined by our ethnic background or our native language but our commitment and dedication that are so much part of our past and present immigrants. •
Stephen Balkaran is an Instructor in the Department of Philosophy at Central CT State University.
The recent death of Fidel Castro, Cuba’s long-serving dictator, has been met with great optimism and skepticism as diplomatic relations continue to unfold. His legacy that spanned some 6o years and 11 American presidents now remains in the history books. Arguably one of the most important political figure to emerge in Latin America, his ideas of socialism and one-party Communist rule became the core of his regime and the obstacle of many American presidents and their policies. How we approach the new Cuba minus the leadership of Fidel remains to be seen, but like many of our foreign policies, it must be done in a humane and philosophical way that represents the true America.
The evolving diplomatic relationship between the United States and Cuba not only has the potential to redefine America’s socio-economic, cultural and political landscape, but it also greatly affects our Latin American patriots. As America addresses issues including the erasure of trade embargoes, the lifting of travel restrictions and the improvement of relations with the Caribbean island and the rest of Latin America, we must be conscious of the effects on society. Despite positive diplomatic protocol, the implications of how these relationships will affect ever-evolving Cuba, Latin America, its impact on American political process and our society as a whole—remain pertinent and indicative of our foreign policy.
Prior to President John F. Kennedy’s administration, the United States’ shared a volatile relationship with Latin America. Before Fidel Castro’s rise in Cuba, presidential administrations supported military dictators that promoted outright human rights abuses in many Latin American countries. In fact, Vice President Richard Nixon once praised Cuba’s dictator Batista—a leader that denied much of Cuba’s population democracy, human rights and economic prosperity—as “Cuba’s Abraham Lincoln.” Our policies before, during and after Fidel Castro’s time leading Cuba helped define our Cold War foreign policy with Latin America and the rest of the world and also played an important role of defining who we are as Americans. As a result of America’s Cold War isolation policies, much of Latin America, especially those nations that sided with the Cuba’s socialist philosophy, remained alienated from the United States and its economic opportunities.
President John F. Kennedy’s foreign policy with Latin America, often termed the “Alliance for Progress,” aimed at promoting economic needs, human rights and democracy in Latin America. President Kennedy himself referred to this policy as “Latin America’s Marshall Plan.” Kennedy’s plan resulted in economic backlash, though. Cuba, along with many Latin American countries that sided with Castro’s anti-American imperialism policies, found themselves politically, economically and culturally isolated from the famed fallout that took place in 1961. Relations further deteriorated with Cuba and Latin America after Kennedy’s failed policies in the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis. These political events not only undermined the trust of Kennedy’s administration in Cuba and Latin America, but they also catalyzed the new anti-American imperialism philosophy that many Latin American countries embraced. The United States’ political and military involvement in Cuba and several Latin American countries has been met with hatred, distrust and vengeance. These feelings were further exacerbated during the 1980’s when America’s foreign policy in Cuba and Latin American involved overthrowing democratically elected governments. Not only did the United States install military dictatorship puppets in countries like Guatemala, Brazil and Chile, but we also supported civil wars in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Grenada and other Latin American nations. Such policies strained U.S.-Latin American relations, and animosity continued to escalate as multiple United States presidents could not deal with Fidel Castro’s Cuba in a rational and sensitive way.
Fast forward 60 years to 2017, and new U.S.-Cuba relations not only mean ease of trade and travel, but also that the United States can improve its much needed relationships with Latin American compatriots. Cuba is now the gateway for America’s foreign policy in Latin America, and this new relationship dictates how we promote democracy, human rights and freedom to our compatriots south of the border.
What do the new U.S.-Cuba relations mean for many of us who live in this great country? Well, this new relationship is beyond removing much of the failed trade embargo policies that formerly defined our relationship with the Caribbean nation and much of Latin America. The 21st century has brought immense changes in America, none more important than the “Browning of America” and the continuous reshaping of America through Latin American immigration. In fact, according to the Census Bureau almost one out of every five people in the United States in 2015 straddled the ethnicity of Latin/Hispanic. The Bureau also concluded that the majority of Hispanics in the United States are native born and that of the 55 million people in 2014 who identified themselves as of Hispanic or Latino origin 35 percent are immigrants from Latin America. Thus, what does that entail for a nation that will slowly but surely be Hispanicized in the next 30 years?
Many of us fail to understand that America has always been Latin. Mainstream America fails to realize that Latin Americans play a crucial role in America’s political development—in every avenue of American life since the inception of our great country. Often lost in textbooks is the importance of Spain’s, Cuba’s, Mexico’s and Puerto Rico’s military troops, all who fought valiantly against British troops in the American Revolutionary War of 1776. Latin Americans not only helped define our early political history, but they also played key roles in our country’s socio-economic, political and cultural development. Hence, debates now surround the question: what would America be like without the Latin American presence and influence? Would our country’s history be different?
Our foreign relations are dilapidated with the rest of the world. The new U.S.-Cuba relations, though, allow us to solidify ourselves as a world supreme power, something that has been lost in recent decades. Our current status as a geo-political power will only increase as improved trade relations help ease much of our tainted history and distrust with Cuba and Latin America. As China and Russia scramble for world dominance and our presence in Latin America remains in an infantile stage, securing our world hegemony becomes imperative. Our foreign policy with Cuba and Latin America must be enacted in a cautions, sensitive way as we seek to embrace a philosophical ideology as a world super power. This new relationship will allow us to reinforce the famed Monroe Doctrine of 1823 and secure an ally that for decades did not support or endorse our philosophy of democracy.
Beyond the importance of American foreign policy, U.S.-Cuba relations will enhance domestic relationships with Latinos that have been neglected throughout much of our nations’ history. President Obama’s shifting foreign policy with Cuba has more implications on America’s future than the mere importation of famed Cuban cigars and rum as our country becomes a new cosmopolitan-ethnic society—a society where Latin Americans are the new political, social-economic and cultural power house. These new relations enable us to have a more comprehensive understanding of the new Americans, their culture, heritage, political clout and the continued importance they will play in redefining the new 21st century America. Yet this policy must ultimately define and embrace much of the Latin American culture that has already left their imprints on America and its culture. This new relationship between the U.S. and Cuba and Latin America enables us to understand the rich, vibrant culture that will ultimately define America. Currently, our political debacle focuses on debates on immigration and the reshaping of the new America. The current influx of Latin American immigrants has left us to grapple with the notion of being an immigrant nation. This debate has left the country divided about the best of what we are: a nation of immigrants. As our current flow of immigrants is overwhelmingly Latin American, not only will the new U.S.-Cuba relations allow us to secure our borders, it will, at the same time, allows us to address the current immigration debate in a more humane and sensitive way. Immigration reform has more implications for America’s future than any of us can foresee—not only socially, culturally and economically, for the Latin political presence is already re-shaping and defining a new America. The new relationship will allow us to have a more comprehensive knowledge of our immigration policies and the importance they present. Enhancing our rich, diverse culture with what Latin Americans bring to our country is the true American ideology of a melting pot.
The idea of democracy, which has been negated in many Latin Americans countries due to our Cold War policies, will receive a much needed jolt in many nations as they express their desire to control their own destiny without American influence. The new U.S.-Cuba relations will also enhance new economic opportunities, allowing us to cultivate a sleeping giant that has awoken. This relationship will redefine the American economic landscape in ways that no other immigrant group may have to power to do. The U.S.-Cuba gateway means a much improved relationship with Latin America’s economic powerhouse, Brazil. Not only does Brazil represent the new Latin America, its economic opportunities were often alienated from America. Capturing this economic pie now rests solely upon correcting past estranged relationships and ensuring Brazil’s biggest economic ally, Cuba, is bestowed the dignity and respect they deserve.
In spite of the unquestioned greatness of new U.S.-Cuba relations, America has more to gain than meets the average eye. It would be impossible to conceive what America, Cuba and Latin America would be without our mutual friendship. What would our nation be without their cultural, historical and economic contributions? This new relationship is beyond the importation of the famed Cuban cigars and rum; the relations will ultimately build more bridges than walls, define our domestic and foreign policies with our compatriots, and enable us to understand the new ethnic America. •
Stephen Balkaran is currently an Instructor of Philosophy at Central Connecticut State University.
Civil rights have been the beacon of our constitutional history, how we treat and respect others has been the cornerstone of American democracy, yet despite this constitutional and moral obligation, modern day anti-Hispanic rhetoric continue to define who we are and what we stand for as a nation that preaches democracy. The current political fiasco has left us as a country scrambling to address new civil rights issues and, at the same time, re-discover the Hispanic presence in America and its shaping of our history. Very few Americans understand, acknowledge and respect the contributions of one of America’s greatest ethnic groups – Hispanics. Never in our history has an ethnic group redefined America as Hispanics have done and continue to do. Yet despite this astonishing contribution to American culture, Americans are often confused as to who Hispanics really are and what they represent in America.
The Hispanic presence in America dates back prior to the founding of this great nation. Hispanic culture can be traced in the United States for over 500 years when California, Mexican states, Florida and the great Southwestern states were discovered by Spanish explorers. Many of us are unaware that Hispanic culture had firm roots in St. Augustine, Florida, and in what is now New Mexico before the English arrived at Jamestown in 1607 or before the Pilgrims dropped anchor in Massachusetts Bay in 1621. Hispanic culture and its political ideas flourished well before the Founding Fathers envisioned the idea of securing their independence from Great Britain in 1776. The present day “Browning of America” and the continuous reshaping of America’s social, cultural and economic influence have defined, and will continue to shape, our country’s new civil, socio-economic, political and cultural history.
Civil rights remain the pinnacle of debates, protecting rights for all Americans, regardless of color, ethnicity, race, gender, age or sexual orientation. Defending these rights against discrimination have long been an important issue for all Americans. These rights have been tested throughout our history; without the Hispanic presence, American democracy would remain very volatile and challenging. Very few understand the profound impact of the Mexican-American War and civil rights. From its earliest beginnings, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican-American War in 1848, created a new American empire that became the foundation of a civil rights movement that demanded that the new Americans be treated with respect. The promise of that accord was to treat former colonial Mexican settlers who chose to remain in the territory as U.S. citizens with full civil rights at a time when the majority of African-Americans were in the shackles of slavery. That test of citizenship for Mexican-Americans in 1848 became the hallmark for many of America’s promises and the challenge for democracy for all.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964, arguably one of the most important legislation in our country’s history, ensured that legal barriers be torn down. Theoretically, it would eliminate barriers of discrimination against all Americans in our society. Despite the importance of this legislation, very few understand the historical foundations of the modern-day civil rights movement and the Hispanic influence that later defined it. The struggle for modern-day civil rights, equality and guaranteed rights under the constitution of the United States would not have been possible without the dedication of Dr. Hector P. Garcia. His leadership on the civil rights movement in many Hispanic communities remains silent but of great importance. Garcia fought peacefully for the dismantling of segregation signs, racism and discrimination in many Mexican-American communities in the great southwestern states in the 1940s and 50s. His non-violence philosophy was an important tool in dismantling racism and segregation years before Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin L. King Jr. took up their cause for human rights, justice and dignity. Garcia’s ideology and commitment towards justice for all later became the cornerstone for the modern day African-American struggle for civil rights in the 1960s.
The landmark Supreme Court case of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 brought an end to any laws that established racial school segregation by deeming those laws unconstitutional thus ending racial segregation in public schools. The court established that the state laws that had created separate public schools for African-Americans, Hispanics and white students were unconstitutional and would no longer be part of American society. Despite this historic ruling, very few understand the backbone of this landmark decision; history has failed to remind us of the importance of Mendez v. Westminster in 1947. In that case, the U.S. Courts of Appeals ruled that segregation of Mexican-American children from the public schools’ system in California was unconstitutional and violated the 14th Amendment; it paved the way for Justice Thurgood Marshall, Brown v. Board of Education, and the birth of the modern day civil rights movement in 1954. Without Mendez v. Westminster 1947, the U.S. Supreme Court would not have any precedent case to trump Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896, and the decision in Brown v. Board of Education may have been different.
Long before assuming the title of president of the United States of America, Lyndon B. Johnson’s first experience with civil rights and segregation occurred in Cotulla, Texas. He knew first-hand as a teacher what Mexican-Americans experienced as second-class citizens, being poor and living in a society without justice. Without this experience, influence and background, President Johnson’s work to promote equality and first class citizenship for all Americans; the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the War on Poverty would have no moral meaning. Without his exposure to the Hispanic conditions, his compassion for civil rights may have never been ignited. Instead, his compassion was set on fire, and the destiny of a nation changed its directions, which would eventually lead to a new country, one full of hope and promises.
History reminds us that Harriet Becher Stowe and Susan B. Anthony paved the way for women’s voting rights and civil rights in the 18th and 19th century. Yet, history has failed to remind us that Mexican-born Mrs. Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz in the 17th century defended and advocated women’s rights in a time when most women were still regulated to homemakers. She challenged the basic norm of women’s education and their rights both in her native Mexico and former southwest Mexican territories i.e. modern day California. Her vision still remains an important icon but often lost in women’s history. Without her vision, the women’s civil rights movement may have not started.
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is often referred to as the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization and has a reputation of unquestioned greatness and continuous work for equality and justice for all. Despite the NAACP’s legacy in our civil rights history, The Japanese-Mexican Labor Association founded in Oxnard, California, in 1903 became the foundation for labor and civil rights in the early 20th century. Years ahead of the formation of the Niagara Movement in 1905, the Japanese-Mexican Labor Association began paving the way for economic and social justice for many farm workers while at the same time demanding the right to be treated with respect and dignity that later became the cornerstone of the NAACP’s mission. Segregation of both Mexican and Japanese workers in the 1900s led the way to the first successful major strike against capitalists and white-ruled society.
The emergence of the Japanese-Mexican Labor Association and the civil rights movement in 1903 included non-violent strikes, protests and demonstrations that became the cornerstone of a modern day movement of the 1960s. This movement was years ahead of the NAACP’s and A. Philip Randolph’s March on Washington movement in 1941. Additionally, this movement preceded the famous March on Washington in 1963, where, again, Randolph was a principal organizer for jobs and freedom. Without the Japanese-Mexican Labor Association stance in 1903, the modern day labor and civil rights movement may have not started.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965, arguably one of the most cherished and prized symbols of American democracy, guarantees the right of U.S. citizens to vote despite their color, nationality or ethnicity. Yet, lost in our history books is the Mexican-American voting rights movement, which can be traced back to the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. The treaty declared that Mexicans who chose to remain in the newly acquired American territories were U.S. citizens, guaranteeing them life, liberty and property. Despite this constitutional right, newly acquired territories began adopting legislation that denied the early Mexicans-Americans the right to vote by employing the English proficiency literacy test and property requirements. In addition, these newly acquired territories used terrorism tactics including lynching and violence against Mexican-American who tried to exercise their newly acquired rights. The terrorists’ acts occurred years before Southern states began embracing Jim Crow’s laws against the newly freed slaves or African-Americans. The treaty fueled the debates about civil rights and equality for the new Americans, specifically addressing the right to vote, which later led to the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1868. The Fourteenth Amendment, which granted citizenship to all people born or naturalized in the United States, regardless of color or race, can be traced back to the early struggle of U.S. citizenship by Mexican-Americans, years before the great Civil War defined who we are as a nation that championed rights.
The rise of social protest and the right to petition government peacefully has been the cornerstone of American democracy not only in times of crisis but throughout our constitutional history. Social protests during the 1960s civil rights movement, Vietnam War and modern day Black Lives Matter again have challenged this fundamental constitutional right. Yet many of us are unaware that the famed social “Chicano Moratorium” movement gave rise to many of the social protests we encounter today. Though different at times, the ideology of petitioning government remains intact. Centered in east Los Angeles, the moratorium was the largest anti-war movement by any ethnic group in America. The protests and demonstrations that took place in the late 1960s and 1970s became a revolutionary movement that demanded the right to be heard. It was one of the most significant civil rights movements by Mexican-Americans who continue to define who we are and what we stand for as a country with democratic ideal. Not only did the “Chicano Moratorium” raise the level of government accountability, the movement resonated certain abiding, tragic themes and raised the awareness of war as a civil rights issue. The themes of this movement are still causing great dialogue and debates in the current social atmosphere. Without this moratorium, government accountability and awareness of war as a civil rights issue may have not started.
American history has often been told from another ethnic group perspective. In other words, had there been no Hispanics in our history; it would be impossible to conceive what America would have become without their cultural, historical and racial contributions – that make our nation and civil rights what it is today. •
Stephen Balkaran, is an Instructor in the Department of Philosophy at Central Connecticut State University