Why Prop 37 Fell Short - An Opinion From A Perez

I woke up with a highly contagious smile this morning after going to bed knowing my Country had just re-elected the greatest President I've ever known. I always knew President Obama to be a movement leader, yet I dreamt last night that the movement to label genetically modified food was really winning in the Polls. But then I woke up and logged on to Facebook.

Needless to say I didn't need to check the Prop's status. I knew it fell short when 9 out 15 posts from my friends read: "What Happened?" and "WTF?" Here's what I think what happened.

As this miraculous push to re-elect President Barack Obama was finally realized, a somber Republican strategist named Mike Murphy gave his party this gut check: "We have a Latino Problem." My response was "no shit!"

But after reading Prop 37's failure stories, the posts, and as many tweets as I can handle I'm ready to concede we have a Latino problem.  Let me explain. One of our best friends is a couple that lives in Ocean Beach (which is arguably one of the most progressive neighborhoods in the predominately conservative San Diego County) and our 3 year old daughters are like sisters. My wife and I love these newly weds, however when you're really friends with someone you can't help but talk about what's important to you as in this case GMO and organic foods for our kids. The wife was born and raised a Ramirez and I know how the Latino Hispanic culture thinks. Traditions!

She not only believes that organic food is just too expensive, but she (and the culture) is not very receptive to invest in this movement. Its foreign, its weird, its predominately white, and it is not the mainstream tradition. In just the last year or so, my family and I have discovered our new favorite vegetable. Anyone who knows us knows we love kale... kale chips, kale in soups, kale sauteed, etc. My daughter eats the kale off my plate! It's now a tradition in my house now. Her first time having it was at my house and she referred to it as "deer food". She likes it now and after years of being friends and educating about GMOs she voted Yes on Prop 37. But that's just one family. What about her cousins, her mom, and all her relatives?

What about the Gonzales families, the Fernandez families, the Mendez families, the Rodriguez families, the Rosales families, the Torres families, the Vargas families, the Mendoza families, the Fuentes families, the Rubio families, and the Perez families? That's just a few Latino Hispanic names, yet just this name group alone could equate to over 1 million plus eligible voters and I didn't see a Yes On Prop 37 campaign engage with this group. I did see one event poster on Univision.com for a Nov 4th rally but it was not written in spanish and was too little too late. I take responsibility myself for not engaging these voters. My excuse is hallow in hindsight just because I don't speak spanish. Yes, I said... I'm a Perez that doesn't speak spanish. It was a missed opportunity. I should have thought of this after watching "The Garden Movie," a documentary of South Central farmer being eradicated from their community farm.

I'm not making this claim lightly. I googled Yes on 37 latino leaders, Mayor Villaraigosa position on Prop 37, Assemblyman Ricardo Lara position on Prop 37, Senator Ron Calderon position on Prop 37 and nothing came up. I do credit the California Latino School Boards Association and Carmen Ramirez, City Council for Oxnard for endorsing Yes on 37, but it was not enough. In fact all the farms, consumer groups, democratic and environmental caucus, and green living leaders were just flat out not enough. The truth is the California Latino Hispanic population would have been enough... they were and are still the answer.

I want to conclude with a question. If corn is one of the highest GMO crops in this Country, then why was there no connection and therefore no clear case made for a major population in California to vote Si and protect a diet staple, Masa?

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