THE BLOG
06/06/2009 12:23 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Insecurity Complex: Who Wants to Be Latino?

I've mentioned before that Hispanics are now the number-one ethnic minority in America. On a related note, I'm sure you've heard that salsa is more popular than ketchup (it's true, more or less).

But this numerical advantage in population hasn't amounted to much for Latinos, except perhaps to convince many U.S. citizens that hordes of immigrants are flooding the country, stealing their jobs, and ogling their wives. In the great ethnic-minority sweepstakes, we certainly can't compete with African Americans. And I'm not just talking about the fact that blacks are flying high because we have our first African American president. I mean that Latinos were lagging behind, socioculturally, even before Barack Obama became the most popular man on Earth.

Because of the complex history involved, more obvious racial differences, or just plain coolness, black people will always have the advantage of being in the forefront of the American consciousness. This will remain true even if the percentage of blacks in America continues to decline under the onslaught of a high Catholic birthrate (most Hispanics are still Catholic).

We simply do not have the cache that African Americans have. Witness the fact that plenty of white people consider themselves culturally black. Many more actively want to be black, which can make for a disturbing and/or hilarious spectacle. In contrast, very few white individuals seek to tap their inner vato.

Witness also that a white-black interracial hook-up results in the oft-repeated catchphrase "Once you go black, you never go back." What is the equivalent for a white-Latino relationship? "Once you go brown, you never... I don't know... frown?" You see the discrepancy.

Now, there are advantages to being off-stage. For example, if someone tosses a slur in our direction, we are positive that he really means to be insulting and isn't making some idiotic attempt to be down with us. African Americans put up with that all the time.

In any case, it's all just whining, I suppose. It won't even matter in a few generations, because in the future, everybody will be at least part Hispanic. After all, the numbers are on our side.