BY ANNE LONGERBEAM
Rosa Clemente thinks the term “Hispanic” is outdated.
Clemente, Green Party vice-presidential candidate and hip-hop journalist, visited the University of Mary Washington as the first speaker of a series of events planned for “Latino Identities: A Month-Long Celebration” last Wednesday night.
She pushed for students to explore issues they were passionate about; the course of action in an issue can never be premature, according to Clemente.
“You don’t go and get it approved by your advisor, or your administrator, or your teacher,” Clemente said. “You may ask them for advice, but what are the issues that you are passionate about, how are you going to move them forward?”
Clemente commented how she would easily win against Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska and Republican Party vice-presidential candidate, in a debate.
“Is that the best you could get?” Clemente rhetorically asked unnamed Republicans.
Clemente later admitted that choosing a woman was a strategic move to try to win Hillary Clinton supporters.
“Are you going to let Sarah Palin become the new face of womanhood in this country?” Clemente asked.
Clemente, the first Latino candidate on a presidential ballot, is running as Vice President alongside Cynthia McKinney, former six-term Congresswoman, for the Green Party in the 2008 Presidential election.
McKinney and Clemente made history this year with the first all-women-of-color Presidential ticket.
During Clemente’s speech in Great Hall she accused Palin’s incapability to articulate her ideas.
“She can’t even string a sentence together,” Clemente said.
Jokes aimed at Palin, such as how she “chews moose” and “can see Russia from her window” weaved through Clemente’s speech.
Other more serious issues were addressed, including the recent bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, a stock trading global investment bank. Clemente warned the audience that an economic crisis such as this can result in xenophobia, an unreasonable fear and contempt of foreigners, and hate crimes. According to Clemente, there has already been an increase in hate crimes, and there will continue to be an increase, especially against Latinos.
Clemente related to college students, saying she experienced a political awakening as a student at the University of Albany, SUNY. Clemente concentrated on national liberation struggles as an undergraduate, and continued her studies at Cornell University. While at Cornell, Clemente founded La Voz Boriken, a social/political organization dedicated to Puerto Rican political prisoners and the independence of Puerto Rico.
Students from the audience thought Clemente was a powerful speaker, but were disenchanted with some of her political issues. One issue supported by Clemente, the replacement of capitalism with alternative economic systems, was never discussed in depth.
Senior Emely Amaya thought certain issues, including the replacement of capitalism with other economic systems, were a little too much for her vote.
“It’s a good theory, but it’s not going to win,” Amaya said.
Another student, Barbara Ailstock, thought Clemente was an effective speaker.
“Clemente presented relevant facts about Palin, but failed to go into details about her own solutions to the problems at hand,” Ailstock said.
Assistant Professor of Spanish Jeremy Larochelle appreciated the different method of thinking Clemente took during her speech.
“I think it’s a great opportunity here for Mary Washington to have a speaker like her with a very alternative message,” Larochelle said.
Great Hall appeared empty during the discussion, filled with about 20 students.
The Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and the James Farmer Multicultural Center, along with others, chose to rename the nationally recognized month as “Latino Identities: A Month-Long Celebration,” originally named “Hispanic Heritage Month.”
“I think that it’s actually a word that disempowers us as Bolivians, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and other African and independent people in a country that come from Spanish speaking countries,” Clemente said.