Cleveland Kidnapping Shines Light on Latino Community

Missing Teens Found Alive In Cleveland Home

By Victor Landa, NewsTaco

We have tiny attention spans. I won’t expand further, you can Google it yourself; here’s a LINK to get you started.

I mention this because it’s been a scant few days since the Cleveland kidnapping story appalled us, and already we’ve moved on to other headlines. But if you’re Latino and live in Cleveland, the story festers.

Here’s what I mean.

An opinion column, written by Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Mark Naymik, took Cleveland’s Latino leadership to task for the deep seeded problems that underlie that community. Here’s part of that piece:

Ariel Castro is the least of the problems facing Cleveland’s Latino community

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cleveland’s Latino community should stop worrying about Ariel Castro.

It has bigger problems.

The escape by Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight from Castro’s house on the near West Side had placed a spotlight on the city’s Latino community, in which Castro lived.

The attention to Castro and his family roots in the community – his relatives were among the first Puerto Rican families to settle in the city after World War II – has become a cause of concern for some Latino leaders and residents. They worry his crimes reflect badly on his family’s legacy and Latinos, especially Puerto Ricans.

Castro should not be a cause for embarrassment to a community. The stain he leaves on the community pales compared with stain of failed Latino leadership, devastating poverty and lousy educational achievement that are sad hallmarks of Cleveland’s Latino community.

Everybody should be embarrassed by these social crimes.

Naymik goes on… You can read the full column HERE.

He calls out Cleveland’s Latino leadership for it’s lack of presence  in City Hall; for the poor educational opportunities in Cleveland’s Latino enclaves; and for the Latino community’s poverty. What’s missing, Naymik says, is urgency on the part of the Latino leadership to change things.

As if it were that simple. As if Cleveland stood apart from the rest of the country’s Latino community.

I’ll let Cleveland’s Latinos make the counter case themselves. Jose C. Feliciano, chairman of Cleveland’s Hispanic Roundtable, wrote back:

Columnist’s ‘smear’ outrages Hispanics

We write this in response to Mark Naymik’s column, which initially appeared on May 17 on his Facebook page with this introduction, “Ariel Castro’s stain on Cleveland won’t be as bad as the one left by failed Latino leadership . . .,” and which reappeared on the front page of the Metro Section on Sunday. We write to rebut the inaccurate underlying assumptions, simplistic assertions and careless analysis in the column about the Hispanic community of Cleveland.

The core premise of the column is that the Hispanic leadership is responsible for the social problems facing the Hispanic community, among them “devastating poverty and lousy educational achievement” — problems faced by many communities in the United States and the entire city itself. This patronizing premise, which would not be asserted against any other group in our city, is offensive. In an effort to villainize the whole of the Hispanic leadership, Naymik skims over the pressing problems of poverty, the simple reality of prejudice and an educational system that is historically inadequate.

You can read the rest of what Feliciano had to say HERE.

Our attention moves from shiny object to shiny object. So it’s easy for a columnist to overlook efforts and call it a lack of urgency. He’ll soon be on to the next issue, the next deadline. But the community he wrote about, in Cleveland and across the United States, lives where the problems fester.

Lack of presence in City Hall? Those battles are decades old. And huge advances have been made by force in Federal Courtrooms.

Lack of education? Do you have a week to talk about generations of neglect?

Poverty? See the items above.

On the plus side, we’re still talking about these things, in Cleveland and by default everywhere else. And every time we keep the spotlight on the issues we gain a little room to move forward.

[Photo courtesy The Political Freak Show]

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