For months I’ve been in communication with Naomi Narvais, an Hispanic Republican in San Marcos, TX. I was particularly interested in the work she’s been doing with the organization she leads, the San Marcos Area Republican Texans (S.M.A.R.T. ). The added interest is that I was born and raised in San Marcos…I know the people there…it’s my hometown.
Since I left in 1989, San Marcos has become quite the bustling city, situated on I-35 between Austin and San Antonio. It’s a college town, with a spring-fed river, cool places to hang out, and an active Democratic party. For as long as I can remember, San Marcos has had a large percentage of Hispanic residents. Some become professionals and achieve success, others move away and start a new life. But unfortunately, more and more are finding themselves in a hopeless situation.
With High School drop-out rates reaching all-time highs, and nearly 53% of Hispanic males quitting school, our Hispanic community is not the same one we remember. Now, it’s fashionable for teenage Hispanics to get pregnant and draw government benefits.
Since my meeting with S.M.A.R.T. was scheduled for 5:30, I decided to visit the “old” neighborhood for a look around. I wanted to walk the blocks I used to cruise on my bicycle. Back then, we all knew each other. My grandfather was a respected man in the community and owned Tijerina’s Tortilla factory, on Invasion Street. We sold fresh corn tortillas, barbacoa, carnitas, lengua, chicharones, tamales, menudo and even cesos. It was like heaven for Hispanics who craved authentic Mexican food.
My Godparents still lived in the neighborhood, on the same block, so I decided to pay them a visit…to talk about the neighborhood and get a perspective from the community.
Carmen Hernandez, my Godmother, came to front door to answer. “It’s me,” I said…”Duke.” “Oh…Duke…how are you mijo?” “Good, good…just stopping in to say hello and catch up on what’s new in the neighborhood.”
She invited me in and we sat in the living room. My Godfather was also there, sitting in his recliner, watching TV. There were four grand kids running back and forth from the living room to a back bedroom…zapping their new toy guns and showing off in front of their new guest. The TV was tuned into some sort of I Carly-Disney style show for tweenagers.
I began talking to my God mother. “So what’s new? How are things? I was just thinking about the back yard Bar-B-Q’s we used to have?” “Oh no. We haven’t had anything like that since your grandparents moved out,” she said. “You know Duke…people just aren’t as nice as they used to be.” Hmmm…I’d say she nailed it on the head.
We’re always talking about the “community” and how we need to get it back on track. We say the community is falling apart, that the children are falling through the gaps. But the reality is, the community, at least in San Marcos, is deteriorating in such a way that even the people living in these neighborhoods don’t even know each other.
Which leads us to the meeting scheduled at 5:30.
Thank God, there are people like Naomi and her group in San Marcos. They want to do something to make a difference. Enough of the talk…they want action. It was under this pretense I attended their meeting. What I learned from them is that desire cannot be stamped out. I learned that perseverance is more powerful than spite, and determination is the trait of those who ultimately succeed.
We talked about Stepping Stones, our education initiative. We talked about the Republican Candidates for Senate, and about the language being used to describe our situation regarding illegal immigration. We talked about working through the Party to achieve inclusion…real inclusion. We talked about the urgency of our issues…that we can’t wait till after the Primary to know where candidates stand on these issues.
Most importantly, Naomi knows she has an ally in the fight for the Hispanic community. We also know we can count on them when the time comes. The relationships we built will result in action and organization in the near future! The Hispanic Inclusion effort is building in San Marcos, and we’re excited to be a part of it.
We’re looking forward to a long lasting relationship with San Marcos Republicans. Go Rattlers!!
A side note: I ran across a poster in one of the stores downtown. It was for a LULAC sponsored event, featuring Grammy Award winning Los Lonely Boys along with 6 other bands…all FREE to the public. We know the Democrats and their LULAC brothers are doing all they can to corral the Hispanic Community, and we need to make sure we’re doing our part!