April 22, 2005

Red, White and...BlueLatinos.org

By Dan Reyes

SAN JOSE — With his launch of BlueLatinos.org, San Jose native Jose Quinonez has set the stage for the next generation of Hispanic/Latino political organizations.

Spurred by the misrepresentation of Hispanics in the media and the need for new ways to express Hispanic political power, Quinonez, a graduate of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, pulled a page from the playbook of one of the organizations he recently worked with.

“I worked for MoveOn.org,” said Quinonez of the online political advocacy organization that has raised millions of dollars for various causes and candidates. “That was where I really saw the potential for online organizing. You’d think they had a whole army of people working for them, but it was only about 10 people. I want to transfer that model to the Latino community.”

While Quinonez has ties with other, older, Hispanic organizations such as the National Council of La Raza, he believes that BlueLatinos.org will speak to a generation of Hispanics whose political and cultural interests do not align with these groups — some of which were founded in the early part of the last century.

“I’ve worked with NCLR and I respect them,” Quinonez said. “But to look at these types of organizations from a generational standpoint, they were built during the 60’s social movement. Now it’s a different era with a growing middle class, and it is not enough to talk about civil rights and discrimination.”

He also does not think that progressive groups in general can serve Hispanics. “The Democratic party and other progressive organizations do not understand the Latino community whatsoever,” said Quinonez. “Translating something into Spanish is not enough. We are not monolithic. We care about a lot of different issues. You need to talk to the community about what it is passionate about.”

Bluelatinos.org is being organized as a 501c4, which will allow the group, like MoveOn.org, to take direct political action.

“Other groups are organized as 501c3s, which means they can act as advocates for the community,” Quinonez said. “With BlueLatino.org, Hispanics will be able to advocate for themselves.”

The site was launched on March 14 and its first project is a petition to fire CNN anchor Lou Dobbs, whose coverage of immigrant issues has been, according to Quinonez, especially egregious.

“Dobbs portrays all immigrants as lawbreakers and many people in the Hispanic community watch in awe and can’t believe what he is saying.”

BlueLatinos.org is taking on anti-immigrant misinformation because a balanced understanding of Latinos in the country is necessary to ensure Latinos are not inhibited from full political participation, Quinonez says. He also hopes the website will give Americans a chance to make rational judgments about immigration issues based on undistorted information.

Quinonez says that the core group of progressives will reach out to U.S. Latinos as part of a plan to illustrate how progressive values are consistent with both Latino and traditional American values. But instead of waiting for their courtship, “We need to start acting like we have political power,” said Quinonez. “This is a big problem in our community. When you don’t believe you have the power, you are willing to accept whatever crumbs come your way.”

Reprinted from El Observador

Return to the Frontpage