COMMENTARY: The New Face of America is Browner, Younger and More Female

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Are your ears ringing? Is your cell phone buzzing? Got lots of texting inviting you to the prom? Any flowers and candy yet?

With the tremendous role the Latino vote played in last week’s presidential election, the courting has begun for next time around. All of a sudden, after being bullied for years, we are the most popular girl in high school.

Not only did Latinos swing the election in favor of the President in battleground states such as Nevada, Colorado and Florida, but more Latinos than ever will be serving in Congress for at least the next two years: 31 altogether—28 in the House of Representatives and three in the Senate.

Among the newcomers there are two Latina congresswomen-elect who will be going to Washington D.C. for the first time: Gloria Negrete McLeod of California and Michelle Luján Grisham of New Mexico, both Democrats.

In Puerto Rico, the capital city of San Juan elected its third female mayor in its history, Carmen Yulín Cruz, also a Democrat.

In general, more women of all colors, backgrounds and political persuasions than ever will be serving in Congress in 2013-14. A historical feat.

Congratulations to all. And congratulations to ourselves for making this happen. Our suffragist foremothers I wrote about last week must be dancing in their graves.

Since last Wednesday, experts and media opinionators have been discussing what happened on Election Day. Most of them concluded that for the first time, the electorate reflected the new face of America, browner, younger and more female than in any other election in the past.

Latinos got the most mentions as the new power to reckon with. It was about time.

This new-found muscle will surely help pass a new immigration reform law sooner than anticipated. But let’s be prepared: Not everyone will like it. You cannot always get exactly what you want.

We also need to be prepared for our new visibility and influence. As I have often mentioned, we must demand more Latinos to appear on political talk shows who can articulate our issues and educate the American public about who we are.

In other words, as we get our place in the dining room table with the adults instead of the make-shift little table with the kiddies, we must be better prepared and better educated to handle the knife and fork properly and to not talk with our mouth full.

Finally, let’s not start dating with the first guy who comes a-courting. Now we can pick and choose.

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