By Evelyn Perez-Verdia
Updated July 20, 2014
Three days before Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist announced his pick for Lieutenant Governor, through Twitter I stated that Crist would pick a woman, and if he was wise she would be Hispanic. Hours before news came out that Crist had picked Colombian-American, Annette Taddeo-Goldstein as his running mate, I had predicted that he would pick an African American woman to be his running mate. It was a major “foot in mouth” moment for me. However, as a Hispanic and former Democrat, I must confess that I did not expect anything less from the Democratic Party. For many years I saw how the Democratic Party would constantly leave Hispanics out from high positions and were not supported when they ran for political office. I felt like Taddeo mentioned herself: “too many people across Florida are feeling left out and behind.” I felt that we as Hispanics had been left behind by the Florida Democratic Party. It is one of the reasons that in the beginning of 2010 I decided to become NPA ( No Party Affiliation). In addition, just like many NPA Hispanics, I became tired of the political parties. I decided I would not vote for the party, I decided to vote for the best person regardless of political affiliation.
The strategy for years of the Florida Democratic Party was to always pick and support an Anglo Saxon Man. Finally when they became more progressive and saw that the majority of this minority group favored them, they finally opened up and started including African Americans. The Florida Democratic Party year after year has made the same decision in midterm elections. In 2010, Alex Sink picked Rod Smith. In 2006, Jim Davis picked Darryl Jones (First and only African American). In 2002, Bill McBride picked Tom Rossin. In 1998, Buddy Mackay and Rick Dantzler. 1994 and 1990, Lawton Chiles and buddy Buddy Mackay. The list of white Anglo Saxon Males as the choice for the Democratic Party goes on to the day that the position of Lieutenant Governor was created in Florida. While the Florida Democratic Party continued with the same choices, in 1986 Republicans and Floridians had already embraced a Hispanic as governor, Bob Martinez. After over almost half a century of the same, I never imagined 2014 would be the year it would finally change. Hispanics finally caught the Florida Democratic Party’s eye for a statewide gubernatorial election.
By Evelyn Perez-Verdia
This July 4th many Hispanics are ready to show their passion and love for their country. They are ready to cry as they sing the national anthem. However, their tears will not be shed for the Independence of America. Instead, they will be showing their passion, their love for the Game of futbol (or as Americans call it, soccer). Especially Colombians who will all be dressed in the colors of their flag and will be celebrating that they have advanced to the final eight teams for the first time in Colombia’s World Cup history. On July 4th they will be playing against Brazil. Colombia will proudly stand for the national anthem and sing the words that they have memorized since childhood.
So much passion exists in Hispanics and yet, so little passion when it comes to the politics of the United States. When the World Cup starts some Hispanics even take vacation time to see the games. However, they do not take the time to go and vote here in the United States. When talking to Hispanics many say it is because they do not feel connected to this new place they have decided to live in, but not a place that they can call home.
July 4th is a day that we as Hispanics might take as a reason to have a party. However, as Hispanics we should always remember that we are in a land where immigrants of many places shed their blood so that we could have the liberty to pursue our own happiness. Men and women who have fought so that our children could have a better future and could have the right to vote.
We should also remember not to take this country for granted. It is difficult for me to see as a Hispanic how many Hispanics live in this country and have absolutely no connection with what it means to be part of this country. They are here for the opportunities, but their hearts stay in their homeland. This is one of the sad reasons why sometimes Americans dislike us so much. Because they feel that many Hispanics have no respect for the country we live in. We show no interest in participating in the process. It is our responsibility to change the way Americans view us. It is time as Hispanics to make a decision: Are you an American or are you someone from your country just living in America?
The moment we understand that we are not betraying our country of birth by being an American, will be the day that we will create a sense of love for America. It is time to have a sense of love for the American flag that has embraced us.
On this July 4th, the Independence Day of the United States, we must remember to be grateful for the opportunity to be part of this beautiful country. This day, as Hispanics, let’s remember that our hearts are big enough to love two countries, and have some space for soccer too.