Revolution in the Bronx – the Browning of America

The major news in American politics is the upset victory in the Democratic primary by Ms. Ocasio-Cortez. I’m sharing her video here without comments since I think this is a huge advance for “brown” people worldwide. I read somewhere that the classical world had a penchant for a variety of colours (maybe related to paganism – India is very colourful and Roman sculptures were painted, perhaps even garishly) but that the modern Anglo-Western scheme is very black and white.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Millennial beats veteran Democrat

In some ways that reflects our current Anglo-discourse where things are very binary. I remember in the London Olympic Opening Ceremony, there was so much attention dedicated to the Black experience in Britain (Windrush etc) and none given to the Asian one. When we think diversity in Britain we still think Black rather than Asian, especially in the entertainment sector.

It’s a rather striking phenomenon that in the finance industry a huge array of the junior recruits will be diverse and Asian but as they climb towards seniority they start to become stale, pale and male. It’s not to say that Asians are underrepresented, in fact they may very well be overrepresented, but the rate of attrition in the rise to seniority is quite noticeable. This is because the top ranks like to replicate themselves (subconsciously) and you would rather go for a drink with someone who looks and feels like you.

I echo Ms. Ocasio-Cortez that it’s not about identity politics but more about getting a seat in the table. Good job and Good luck.

27 thoughts on “Revolution in the Bronx – the Browning of America”

  1. I am much more interested on what she does. Talking to a Bernie guy and he was like she is left of Bernie(if thats possible). Trump times are the best , its like to win now you have to be the polar opposite of each other.

  2. To those across the pond – The impression I got during my first (and only) trip to the US last year, to NYC and DC was that Spanish now seems to be the de-facto second language. Is this normal (I didn’t expect it) or something that’s relatively new?

    Do second gen Hispanic immigrants in the US retain fluency in Spanish? That would be unlike most south Asian immigrants I’ve seen here in the UK

    1. Do second gen Hispanic immigrants in the US retain fluency in Spanish? That would be unlike most south Asian immigrants I’ve seen here in the UK

      they don’t. but depending where they grew up they have their own dialect of english with a distinct accent so sometimes people think they aren’t native english speakers.

    2. It depends. Marriage to a non-Hispanic is a surefire way to prevent transfer of the language. But in Central/Northern California, almost every Hispanic I’ve met who has two Spanish-speaking parents also speaks Spanish. In fact, people often assume that I speak the language just because of my last name.

      And if by second generation you meant the grandchildren of immigrants, I’d still guess that most preserve the language if they grow up in communities with lots of first gen immigrants.

      Razib, do you have a source for saying otherwise? That completely conflicts with my personal experience, although I acknowledge that my personal experience isn’t necessarily representative of the entire country.

      1. Fraxinicus, I have anecdotally observed that most hispanics (and many caucasions for that matter) speak some broken Spanish (quality for said Spanish is another matter). It is considered valuable for business and career purposes.

      2. @fraxinicus – I meant children of immigrants. It seems like Spanish culture in the US is kinda ascendant, what with all the pop songs featuring Spanish lines and movies like Fast and the Furious with a decidedly Hispanic feel to them. I guess this would mean that Hispanics don’t feel the pressure to assimilate as much anymore. I might be wrong here…

        1. Siddharth you are most definitely correct. A majority of hispanics self identify and are regarded by broader society as caucasion. Hispanics are very assimilated. This is the traditional American story. Italian Americans, Armenian Americans, Azerbaijani Americans, Lebanese Americans, Chinese Americans, Desi Americans, Iranian Americans, Nigerian Americans, Polish Americans, Russian Americans, Greek Americans, Syrian Americans, Turkish Americans, Egyptian Americans, Jewish Americans . . . all very proud of their ethnic heritages (note the plural). Many very assimilated Americans are proud of their associations with many different ethnicities through their great grandparents and grandparents. And they remain as American as Apple pie.

          In many ways America and India are alike and different from the rest of the world. Extraordinary diversity and freedom of thought . . . a welcoming of difference, foreigners and immigrants. People are perfectly comfortable having many, many different identities and groupings at once while remaining patriotic authentic citizens of their chosen country. None of this is contradictory.

          Hispanic Americans have made it in America. One way you know this is that hispanic Americans are low in the oppression Olympics, close to caucasions and Asians. Hispanics are considered “oppressors” and “exploiters”. People can also make jokes about hispanics (which can’t be done to woman, blacks and especially LBGTQ).

          Black Lives Matter (which has more support from the caucasion intelligentsia than from black Americans) was created partly as a way as a way to go after hispanics.

          1. The US has always been a country (until the current regime) where if you believe in the ideals of America (Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness) you can become an American. India seems to be much more concerned with religion, ethnic origin, etc. Somehow, I don’t see India accepting a whole bunch of non-Hindu immigrants.

            The US after all is a nation of immigrants. The original inhabitants were the Native Americans and they were mostly wiped out. The country was then settled with immigrants from Britain. Later, immigration from other European countries began (though if you study your US History you will find that Italians and Jews used to not be considered “white’). Much later, they wanted skilled workers and started giving Green Cards to Pakistani and Indian doctors.

            But if you believe in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and legally go through all the correct hoops to become an American citizen, there should not be a problem. Of course, the current regime has now instituted a policy which differentiates based on religion and national origin, which is a major step backward.

      3. I talked to a Hispanic friend living in NYC, and he also says that 90+% of second generations he knows speak Spanish. I imagine that will be the case anywhere that has a vibrant Hispanic community.

        I would definitely say there’s less pressure to assimilate now. Not worried for the long term though – there’s still generational attrition towards English, and while there are young Hispanics who are monolingual Anglophones, there are hardly any adult monolingual Spanish speakers that were born in the US.

        AnAn, many Hispanics ARE Caucasian. If you want to refer to mainstream white Americans as something opposed to them, use something else, like Anglo. Or even “white” which in America is as much a cultural as a racial classification. Caucasian is more coldly anthropological and can include people who are explicitly not considered white in America.

        1. Fraxinicus

          many Hispanics ARE Caucasian.

          A FEW are Caucasian. Say some number like 75% Caucasian DNA.

          Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Hondurans, Mexicans are classified under Hispanic. Hispanic is just a language group. Hispanics run from Jet black to lily white, with most in the middle.

          Link below to images of Dominican Women (generally with many dark) or google Brazilian Favella Women

          1. I know most aren’t Caucasian, but a significant minority globally and in the US are. My whole point was that Hispanic isn’t a racial grouping, and so opposing Hispanics as a whole to Caucasians (or any other racial grouping) is wrong.

  3. Don’t most South Asian North American expats retain some broken fluency in their mother tongues (or at least broken Hindi), albeit with awful grammar and pronunciation and without native language written literacy? This is my observation. Including at fund raisers for Republicans and Democrats and business associations. To be honest a lot of people stay quiet to avoid embarrassing themselves. But they can understand much of what they here. I have also seen this with college students.

    I would think the UK would be similar. Surprised it is not.

    1. expats? non-white ppl are not expats 😉

      if you are talking 1.5 & 2nd generation, some modicum of fluency seems normal in the USA. though sometimes it is not what you’d expect; a tamil canadian friend grew up only knowing hindi as her south asian language cuz she grew up around ppl from north india (in toronto).

      1. On Hindi . . . yes that happens a lot. Is that because of Bollywood? I am perpetually shocked that so many 2nd and 3rd generation Desis know some broken eastern language (sounds hillarious like heck when they try to use it).

        Hey some Asians living in the West are expats! 😉 Expats rock! Can’t stand caucasion exceptionalism. Needs to be broken. Remember:

    2. “Don’t most South Asian North American expats retain some broken fluency in their mother tongues”
      Nope, not from what I’ve seen. Most of the 1st gen folk I’ve seen (whether Gujju, Punjabi or SL Tamil) aren’t able to watch say a Hindi or Tamil film without subtitles. They’re more likely to know better French than their native tongue, in my experience! It’s funny, I actually insist on ten minutes of Tamil a day with my fiancé, and she’s from a Tamil speaking SL household. She does compensate in other ways though – plays the veena, violin, sings and dances. And most SL Tamil girls seem to be able to do some of these, which is quite commendable.

      Apologies for the off-topic thread diversion! Peace

      1. You are on topic. It is shocking that South Asian UK people know nothing of eastern languages. Not even some broken words here and there? Obviously they prefer watching with subtitles. I do too! Sometimes I feel lazy or want help with the more detailed monologues.

      2. “They’re more likely to know better French than their native tongue”

        Their native tongue (unless they were born and raised in S. Asia) is English. It is hardly surprising that they can speak French (a proximal European language) better than an Indian one.

      3. I grew up in the DC Suburbs, but we learned to speak Urdu at home. Despite the fact that the parents were perfectly fluent in English (being educated at convent schools in Pakistan and attaining higher degrees in the States itself). It was felt that it was important to be in touch with our cultural heritage. Ghazals and Hindustani classical music were also part of this same idea.

        Reading and writing Urdu is a whole different ball game. When we used to go “home” for the summers (the World Bank has a very generous “home leave” policy), my late grandmother used to teach us to read Urdu. Of course, by the next summer, it would all have been forgotten.

        We were required to take foreign languages in school, but the options were French or Spanish. I think in high school, German was also an option.

        I do know enough Urdu to be able to watch Bollywood films without subtitles. Not that I really watch Bollywood.

        Of course, I was not born in the US and when I arrived there at age 5, I already spoke Urdu (which was my native tongue). Obviously, later on, my primary language of thinking, reading, and writing became English.

      4. Siddarth,

        plays the veena, violin, sings and dances. And most SL Tamil girls seem to be able to do some of these, which is quite commendable.

        That is quite unusual, most Tamil lose their culture (as in language etc) when they move south.
        Dont know anyone in my family (paternal, Jaffna Tamil) who can do Tamil music etc. My generation (age 60 and above), some can still manage to speak Tamil but can barely remember to read and write. My grandfathers generation (late 1800’s-early 1900’s) were Tamil scholars, first Tamil novel written by a women by my gfathers sister. SJV the father of federalism was married to my fathers first cousin (same surname as I). By that time to not very Tamil either. On the other hand we are Protestant Christians including SJV.

      5. Siddarth
        Also off topic.

        Some of the stuff written (in Tamil) by grandfather and his brothers.

        Mangalanayagam Thambiah was the first female author in modern Ceylon. She wrote in Tamil the novel “Norurikunta itayam (Crushed/Broken Heart) in 1914. Reprints of the book are available at Kumaran House.

        Her husband Issac Tambyah (and my grandmothers brother) was also a prolific author in English though
        e.g. Foregleams of God and Psalms of a Saiva Saint and a Tamil Mystic”. Foregleams of God is a comparative Study of Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity. Pslams of a Saiva Saint consists of 366 translations with notes and a long long introduction and is a Christian Laymans endeavour to understand a great Hindu poet.

        Hopefully someone will read them, I cant.

  4. To be honest, this is the first I have ever heard of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez. From the above clip she seems very nice, charismatic, professional, self confident and smart. Her personality is very attractive. She might go far.

    I don’t know enough about her policy positions. She was endorsed by Black Lives Matter which is a stunning achievement for a Latina. Obviously her policy positions will change rapidly as she hits reality, no doubt. Obviously she won’t ban ICE.

    What are her positions on regulation, free trade, free investment, product development, process innovation, capacity building, solving problems? How about regarding crime, law enforcement and criminal law reform?

    1. @AnAn, “…she seems very nice, charismatic, professional, self confident and smart. Her personality is very attractive.”

      Simply put she is hot. More details about her background are coming out. She grew up in the adjoining wealthy Westchester County, NY and only till 5 yr old in Bronx.

  5. Ahh the Bronx, sold flowers on Mothers day in 1989 and 1990 on Bruckner Blvd with two Puerto Ricans. We got muscled out from 145th Street in Harlem, which was marginally a better area (not saying much) compared to the Brox. On Bruckner Blvd, we had to share “sales space” with dope sellers and hookers. I got roped in because I had a large 1975 Ford LTD station wagon.

    One of the Puerto Ricans, Andy I knew from Uni/College. He was an undergrad and I was an grad student. The other was Benny, Andys uncle about my age (29). Andy looked a light skinned African American (medium tan), Benny (RIP), well he just looked a like white guy. Benny used to go on and on about Black rights/heritage and the only way I could get him to shut up and pissed off was by saying, “Benny you are no black guy, you are just another white guy”.

    Anyway the point of the story, Puerto Ricans who live in Harlem/Bronx identify with Black/African American even if they look white.

    The few Puerto Ricans/Latinos in academia (sciences) appear to identify as white and can only be guessed by their surnames (e.g. Lopez).

  6. Fraxinicus and sbarrkum, a majority of hispanics in the USA identify as “white” or “caucasion” which Fraxinicus correctly described as a significantly cultural grouping. This is seen in data sets used by data scientists, statisticians, economists and sociologists to study society trends.

    Latin America has a lot of caucasion ancestry too.

    Personally I think more in global terms and think most of these descriptors of groupings are partly bunk.

    I don’t know what the revolution of the Bronx means. I have been struck at how Black Lives Matter has become a major force across Latin America and transformed the internal discussion and self understanding of Latin Americans. Americans have no idea how much the rest of the world copies Americans.

    The Bronx has many solidly middle class black Americans and many high performing black American K-12 school kids. How will Ms. Ocasio-Cortez navigate the increasing black American resentment of Black Lives Matter (which is increasingly seen as a tool of the caucasion intelligentsia)? How will she improve aggregate K-12 academic performance?

    1. AnAn,

      The Bronx has many solidly middle class black Americans and many high performing black American K-12 school kids.

      I would reword to “a few middle class black Americans”

      I used to visit the South Bronx and Harlem often in late 80’s and 90’s when it was a hellhole. Lived in the South Bronx and then Grand Concourse/192 Street around 2007-2010. It had become marginally better.

      You dont see caucasians too often in the Barrios.

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