Friday, March 6, 2009

Why Jason Marin doesn’t speak for me and shouldn’t speak for Latino/as

A letter from Lucho Granados Ceja of Barrio Nuevo to students at the University of Toronto

“I’m a gay Costa Rican Jew. I think that’s pretty diverse”. That’s how University of Toronto Students' Union (UTSU) presidential candidate Jason Marin responded at an elections forum when students expressed concern that his ticket lacked diversity. What Jason needs to realize is that if he purports to represent the Latino community, he must defend our interests. Unfortunately, he has consistently done the opposite.

Barrio Nuevo and its allies regularly see the detrimental effects of poor leadership amongst our community; issues such as a high drop out rates, low participation levels in post secondary education, and racial profiling continue to plague our community. As someone who works with the Latino community in Toronto, it is my opinion that Jason is the very type of “leader” that has been a detriment to our community and kept us oppressed here in Canada for so many years; “leaders” such as right-wing Toronto city councillor Cesar Palacio, who only champion their ethnicity when convenient, and push anti-people policies once in power.

Jason’s record on New College Student Council (NCSC) gives us troubling clues as to how he might behave should he be elected president of UTSU. As president of the NCSC Jason consistently sided with the University of Toronto administration as they advocated for policies that are harmful to economically oppressed and racialized groups, further entrenching the systemic racism found in our society. Naylor’s agenda includes the deregulation of fees, and while Latinos/as - who already face significant barriers to education – would be further marginalized by the skyrocketing tuition fees that would follow deregulation, Jason was absent from organizing against these policies.

Our elected leaders must see that racism in our society is still a systemic problem and that UofT is no exception. We do not live in a “post-racist” society, and good leaders cannot simply claim to belong to our communities; good leaders must champion our issues to the powerful by taking direction from our communities. Jason, sadly, only takes direction from the administration. Racialized people and their allies need to support leaders that support us, and they will not find such leadership in Jason Marin and his “Change” ticket.

No comments: