“White Latino” Leaders: A Foregone Conclusion or Mischaracterization of Latino Society

Posted in Articles, Latino Studies, Law, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2012-03-20 02:15Z by Steven

“White Latino” Leaders: A Foregone Conclusion or Mischaracterization of Latino Society

The Modern American
Volume 3, Issue 2 (Summer-Fall, 2007)
Article 11
pages 62-65

Eric M. Gutierrez

Am I white? My personal inquiry into race begins with a school picture of a six-year-old boy. My dark brown hair, parted to one side, falls impishly over half-cocked eyebrows. My eyes, more almond-shaped than oval, are a murky blue with green speckles. My nose, a thicker version of the traditional aquiline Roman contour, fades into a tiny bulbous tip. My smile, close-mouthed and askance. My skin, white, even with a faded summer tan.

If I am white, whether I have claimed it or not, has it afforded me the privileges of a racial hierarchy skewed towards the dominant white culture? Moreover, has my apparent skin color placed me in a leadership role in the Latino community based merely on society’s perception of what that race is? Will that perception imply that I will turn my back on the Latino community that raised me, opting instead for the spoils of an influential white power structure?

In this article I consider the arguments presented by Ian Haney López in his essay entitled “White Latinos” and analyze the validity of his statements on white Latino community leaders. I examine and challenge López’s assertions regarding the characterization of Latino leaders, generally; and his description of an emerging Latino culture identified as “Mexican Americans,” the “Brown Race,” and the “New Whites,” specifically.

The most crucial assertion by López is that white Latino leaders are the most prevalent and influential in Latino society and that by emphasizing their whiteness as a key component of their identity, they facilitate the mistreatment of Latinos and buttress social inequality. Although I agree with many of López’s assertions about white Latino leaders, I believe the aforementioned assertion is a mischaracterization of Latino leadership and neglects to consider the cultural values from which these leaders arise…

Read the entire article here.

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Spotlight on Jon Veilie: A Man on a Thirteen Year Mission

Posted in History, Identity Development/Psychology, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, United States on 2012-03-20 00:58Z by Steven

Spotlight on Jon Veilie: A Man on a Thirteen Year Mission

The Modern American
Volume 1, Issue 1 (Spring 2005)
Article 8
pages 22-23

Lydia Edwards

It all started one month after he passed the bar. Sylvia Davis, a black Seminole, came to Jon for help. She had been to many lawyers already. She told Jon Velie her story about how her 13 year old son was denied clothing benefits because he is black. “It hit me as obviously wrong. So I naively took the case on a contingency basis not knowing there would be no real payment. I naively thought I could inform the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the tribe they missed this.” What Jon really stepped into was something like the uphill civil rights battles of the 1960s. “It was straight up racism in conversations with the involved parties including the tribe and BIA; the ‘N word’ was thrown all around.” For his entire legal career, Jon Velie has sought to bring justice to Ms. Davis and other black Seminoles as well as black Cherokees.


Jon Velie graduated from University of Oklahoma Law School in 1993. As an undergraduate at U.C. Berkeley he was a Native American studies major. During law school he was a research assistant for Rennard Stickland, a renown Indian Law scholar who is now Dean of Oregon Law School. Before attending U.C. Berkeley, Jon had already developed an affinity for Native American issues. As a child he grew up in the Absentee Shawnee tribal community. Many of his friends were from the tribe and he was exposed to sacred activities otherwise unseen by outsiders. His father, Alan Velie, taught the first course in contemporary Indian studies.

Alan Velie was a Shakespearean professor at the Oklahoma University in the 1970s in the midst of the American Indian rights movement when he was approached by Native American students and agreed to teach a course on American Indian literature. At the time, all the courses taught about Native Americans were concentrated on the past and more in the anthropological sense. He now travels the world talking about Native American literature and has written seven books on the subject.


Unbeknownst to most Americans, the Five Civilized Tribes (Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Seminole, and Creek) have had long traditions of African membership and enslavement. The Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes had a form of African slavery that closely mirrored that of Southern white plantation owners. The Seminole tribe, however, has had a unique relationship with its African members. The Seminole tribe and its African members (commonly referred to as Freedmen Freedmen) have coexisted together since the 16th Century. Many slaves of white plantation owners ran away to live with the Seminole tribe. Both Seminole Wars were fought over the number of runaway slaves who lived with the tribe. African members could intermarry and take on positions of leadership. Many served as translators between the Spanish, the tribe, and southern white plantation owners.

During the Civil War, the Five Civilized Tribes fought with the Confederacy against the Union. After the war, all of the tribes signed treaties with the United States government in order to maintain their sovereignty and reinstitute an autonomous government. In all of their treaties, there were clauses ordering the tribes to free their slaves and treat them and their descendants equally. Over the years, Congress and the courts have enforced the treaties to assure equal rights for the black Indians. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Congress set up the Dawes Commission to record all the members of respective Indian Tribes. Their records are called the Dawes Rolls. The commission recorded black Indians on separate rolls for all of the tribes. Cherokees and Seminoles that were ¾ white were recorded on a “full blood” list while their black members were enrolled on the Freedmen list. The quantity of Indian blood of each black Indian was not recorded by the Dawes Commission…

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Multi-Hued America: The Case for the Civil Rights Movement’s Embrace of Multiethnic Identity

Posted in Census/Demographics, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2010-01-31 22:04Z by Steven

Multi-Hued America: The Case for the Civil Rights Movement’s Embrace of Multiethnic Identity

The Modern American
American University
Volume 4, Issue 1 (Spring 2008)
8 pages

Kamaria A. Kruckenberg
Harvard Law School

My little girl in her multi-hued skin
When asked what she is, replies with a grin
I am a sweet cuddlebums,
A honey and a snugglebums:
Far truer labels than those which are in.

The above poem resonates deeply with me, and it should: my mother wrote it about me. She recited its lines to me during my childhood more times than I can count. It was a reminder that I, daughter of a woman whom the world saw as white and a man whom the world called black, could not be summed up into any neat ethnic category. The poem told me that, though my skin reflected the tones of a variety of cultures, I was more than the sum of my multiple ethnic identities. Over my lifetime, I have recalled this message each time someone asked, “What are you?” and every time I checked “other” in response to the familiar form demand that I mark one box to describe my race.

The classification of multiethnic individuals like myself recently has been the focus of many heated debates. The Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) sets the racial categories used on numerous forms, including the census. In 1997, the OMB revised Statistical Policy Directive 15, its rule for racial data classification, requiring all federal agencies to allow individuals to mark multiple races on all federal forms.  Because the implications of the classification of multiethnic individuals in federal racial data collection are potentially far reaching, this change has been surrounded by controversy. The census tracks the numbers and races of Americans for legislative and administrative purposes.  This information is particularly important for this country’s enforcement of civil rights laws.

Numerous authors argue that the recognition of multiethnic identity will hamper traditional civil rights efforts. They claim that policies that maintain civil rights must win out over the individual caprice of those who advocate for multiethnic recognition.  On the other hand, many argue that the recognition of the personal meaning of multiethnic identity is important and does not hamper the traditional goals of civil rights groups.

In this article I explore the context of this debate by examining both the history of race and the census. I then examine both sides of the multiethnic characterization argument. Finally, I end the article with a proffered solution to the controversy…

Read the entire article here.

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