Friday, January 13, 2006

Emanuel Xavier: New York Post OpEd

On Wednesday, January 11, the New York Post ran an OpEd piece by Emanuel Xavier in their weekly Latino supplement, Tempo. In "A Random Act of Violence" he writes:



January 11, 2006 -- Crime may be down in the Big Apple, but in certain areas of Nueva York, it's at an all-time high.

Three months ago, I was randomly attacked in Bushwick en route to visit my sick mother. I was brutally beaten and left with permanent nerve damage to my inner right ear.

While I am a gay man, it was not a hate crime. The group, made up of nearly 20 teens, stole my keys - which I was later told is a gang initiation rite. The gang responsible for my bruises had skin color much like mine and spoke a language that I could easily understand.

More than physically hurt, I was spiritually broken by the ignorance of my own hermanos.

Violence against anyone should be deplored. But in an age where we talk about abuse coming from others, we must also stop to look at the toll Latino-on-Latino violence is taking on our own. It's an issue that we, as a community, must address, because accountability lies on our doorstep.

Those of us who live in the barrios know that the war is not only abroad but in our salas. Like men and women willing to destroy themselves and others in the name of religion, our youth continue to commit acts of cruelty to prove their machismo.

As a familia, we must start talking about it, and find ways to curb this disturbing trend.

Youth violence - present in all classes, nationalities, religions and ethnicities - is a complex issue with no single solution. And I'm sure that years of discrimination have left our young men struggling to define what it means to be masculine.

But there is one sobering fact which remains - that a generation of our men (roughly one out of three, according to recent surveys) is being raised without their fathers.

Many of our boys lack father figures to teach them how to be real men and, as a result, look to the streets to seek out opportunities for male bonding.

As the largest growing ethnic group in the country, we cannot afford to lose any of our boys.

We should be able to walk through these calles unharmed and to raise our children to respect others.

Xavier is the author of "Americano." He's appeared on "Russell Simmons presents Def Poetry" and in the film "The Ski Trip."

What do you feel are the causes of Latino-on-Latino violence? Send your comments to Tempo, New York Post, 1211 Ave. of the Americas, N.Y, N.Y, 10036 or

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