06/07/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

An Open Letter To My Boricua Brothers and Sisters

An Open Letter To My Boricua Brothers and Sisters:

I am a black American man who has raised a family in the United States. I was a teenage political activist during the Civil Rights era of the 1960s. Raised in New Orleans, influenced by the music of the Caribbean region, Reggae, Salsa, and Rumba, I feel a kinship with Puerto Rico and Cuba. I was touched by the music from those regions. The rhythm was somehow in my DNA. I sought in my teens and twenties to become a conguero, but I had to settle for appreciating the art. It did, however, influence my son enough to become a percussionist. But, my reason for writing this open letter to you concerns a more serious matter.

We have been engaged in a presidential race that will either solidify the powers in control of this country that cater to the wealthy, or usher in a system focused on average citizens. I am a Democrat, having rejoined the party in 1992 to vote in the election that brought Bill Clinton to the presidency. I was proud to be represented by the Clintons during those years. But, the right wing eventually regained control of the White House and turned this country into the mess we have now. I was happy to see Hillary Clinton running for president in this election, to perhaps return our nation to the mindset that prevailed then.

But, over the past year, I have witnessed the Clintons, first Bill and soon afterward Hillary, tear away at the progress we have made in achieving racial harmony. That was their reaction when they saw Senator Barack Obama emerge as a potent political foe. In a country where politics is often waged with dirty tricks and political thievery -- like that which we witnessed in Florida in 2000 -- a certain level of underhanded maneuvering is to be expected. But the Clintons have employed a potentially devastating tactic that could drive a wedge between Americans, black and white. The Clintons could give the Republicans an opportunity to seal their takeover of the American government and keep the interests of the wealthy above the rest of us citizens.

I am asking for your help in fighting the Clintons' disruptive tactics. Obama, a man of mixed heritage, born to a white mother and Kenyan father, has been painted as unelectable by the Clintons because of his skin color. He is a Harvard educated attorney; he was the first black student to head the prestigious Harvard Law Review; he went on to become a community organizer and local politician before winning a U.S. Senate seat. Yet, despite his accomplishments, the Clintons are resorting to the race card to win the remaining primaries, making it necessary for our superdelegates to choose our nominee.

Many of my friends here in New Orleans are of Boricua heritage. I am of Creole heritage, a fair-skinned black man. I know that your families are of mixed ethnicity as I am. You know all too well the sting of color-based power. Look at the racially tinged backlash against undocumented immigrants here in the U.S.; Clinton is against giving them drivers licenses. She has turned out to be just another power-hungry, rich capitalist interested in her own advancement at the expense of anything and everyone else.

We need your help here in the states. Your votes count in the Democratic primary. If Clinton succeeds in her attempt to use your votes to steal this election, the rift she creates will be permanent and the future of your families and mine will be the worse for it. Do the right thing Puerto Rico. We need you to find the rhythm and help Obama change this country for the better.

With Love,

Paul S. Peete