Geraldo Rivera--yep Gerry Rivers--only tickles theses issues in his book HISPANIC: Why Americans Fear Hispanics in the U.S. (Celebra, 2008). Indeed, much of the monograph becomes a memoir and sprinkled with illustrations and examples other Puerto Rican sucess-over-adversity stories. Trouble is--that's about Puerto Ricans. Culturally and legally (since the Jones Act of 1917) US citizens. More Brooklynesque than Italians, more Bronx than Yankee Stadium, more New Haven than Yalie George Bush. Yes, Geraldo takes on some of his FOX NEWS cohorts--and in this era of info-tainment and target demo fakery you have to wonder how genuine this is--and names names among Mr. Charlie's anti-immigrant crowd. Yes, Geraldo decries this friction between black and brown. But there's no nuance on one level...or blunt force on another which always gets short shrift: differences among Hispanic or "Latino" groups...and thorny social issues such as crime, education, too many young girls having too many kids, nihilism, alcoholism, drugs, lack of health care/insurance. You know--the shit they tag US with hahahahaha.
That Hispanic birth rate? Again--among which groups? Run of the mill families or second generation Mexican immigrants...girls just celebrating their Quinceanera by getting pregnant? Or some of my Salvadoran or Ecuadoran neighbors pumping out kids whilst papa can't find work during the housing slump? Note the birth rate's not some cultural dialectic. They have biology on their side. No one's waiting to finish grad school or make partner or move into the good school district before they get married and have kids; you don't see too many late thirties/fortysomething Hispanic couples at the IVF place. Lots of black people, though. Interesting. Maybe you will in a few generations, as caste/class displaces ethnicity as a determinant? Both Darwin and God say we are set up to be fecund and fertile by age 17-18, and if there's food and no natural stresses, we shall multiply. Hispanics are a testament to that fact. Geraldo? He doesn't delve into the details at all. Not that I expected him to be Bill Cosby in Come on People, but once he's beyond the immigration debate he merely touchs problems with success anecdotes re: Edward James Olmos & famous people. "American Me" is not a tale of inspiration. Then there is the matter of education, drop-out rates, etc. This is even more painful, and rivals anything in HBO's "Hard Times at Douglass High." Again, Geraldo rails against Anglo cretins and oppression, but doesn't winnow into nasty stuff. Finally, there is the seperate issue of Mexico which could fill a whole volume. History? Yeah, they didn't cross the border--the border crossed them. Issues unique to California, Texas? Yeah, and again, no true co-sanguinity with Puerto Ricans. He doesn't even presage the weird doings of Hillary Clinton with respect to turning Hispanics "against" Obama this year. Ironically, his spleen's aimed that Republicans.
Geraldo missed a chance for a multi-volume Michener-esque chronicle of diverse tribes who are thought of as one "nation" onto themselves. Still, there are interesting arguments, insights, stories. Me--I decry the lack of "coverage" for Brazilians (and okay, Portuguese and Cape Verdeans in New England--ya happy?). As black folks we likely have more in common with them...even the "white" ones who cling to their German/Italian roots...than we do most Hispanics outside of Puerto Ricans, Domincans and some Cubans. Best looking women in the universe, too. And you'd have thought THAT would tickle Geraldo's fancy! Talk about BIRTH RATE. Lawd. Anyway, HISPANIC: Why Americans Fear Hispanics in the US. Read and learn.