As a Filipino American, I have always felt a deep affinity with
Mexicans and other Latinos who share a history of colonization by Spain. Many
Tagalog words are derived from the Spanish language. Many Filipino foods are
similar to Mexican dishes (like my favorite dessert, leche flan). Catholicism
exercises a strong influence in both communities.
My affinity, however, it seems to me is largely not shared by other
Asian Americans to the same extent. One reason stems from the media's
sensationalization and exaggeration of supposedly divergent views regarding key
issues like immigration reform and affirmative action. News
articles often proliferate on "battles" between both camps for electoral representation.
We are constantly pitted directly against each other. Lost in this negative
media hype is the longstanding and far-reaching history of political
collaborations between Asians and Latinos, featured in Latino USA here.
I find this sadly unfortunate, for Asian Americans and Latino
Americans I believe share more commonalities than differences. Both groups are
viewed and treated as perpetual foreigners in a land we helped build and
enrich. We are stigmatized for our perceived lack of English language skills
and for our deliberate retention of particular cultural beliefs and practices from
our ancestral homelands. We are often excluded in racial discussions framed
within a black-white binary. Also, we both strive for realization of the
"American Dream" -- for upward social mobility, better futures for our
children, and equal opportunity for jobs, education, and housing.
In a move to address and resolve existing fractures, Hyphen is teaming
up with Latino USA to celebrate and raise awareness about
intersections between Asian American and Latino American histories and
cultures. Along with radio programs produced by Latino USA, Hyphen will
be launching a series of articles on overlaps between our communities -- from
art, to food, to concerns and issues faced by woman politicians.
As part of the collaboration with Hyphen, Latino USA produced a host of
radio spots, touching on topics from intersections between Asian American and
Latino American art, to Cambodian American gangs in Long Beach, Chino-Latino
food, and Japanese salsa-lovers. The link to these shows is here.
Granted, pan-ethnic solidarity between Asians and Latinos won't always
be easy and straightforward given the diversity and heterogeneity among and
between both groups that might give way to divergent political agendas and
strategies. But we must try. And Hyphen and Latino USA are definitely trying.
We urge and encourage you to try with us. Hyphen has begun accepting
article pitches and submissions to feature in our collaboration with Latino
USA. We hope that you submit. Please email all pitches, submissions, or questions to
We also hope that Hyphen readers will begin educating and immersing
themselves not just in overlaps between our cultures, but in issues and
concerns faced by Latinos today. An excellent place to
start is Latino USA's website that features a breadth of radio programs on
subjects ranging from politics and history, to contemporary culture. Please
visit their website now, and help spread the good word.