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Little Joe on Politics, Racism and Chicano Rights

Little Joe on Politics, Racism and Chicano Rights

Article and photos by Ramón Hernández

Is Little Joe Running for Political Office? No, but he is throwing in his hat into all races and hitting the campaign trail to help Texas turn back to blue from local city elections to the governorship and state congressmen and women.

     The reason why this Tejano music icon is taking personal action is as follows:

      “Looking back, one of the things that I lament now that I’ve gotten older, is that I didn’t prioritize. It’s not a regret, but in a kind of way, it’s a bother that I didn’t do and haven’t done as much as I would like to have done for the people in how I wanted to. Especially for La Raza.

     “I’ve taken many opportunities – when I can – to advance la causa (the cause). But, I feel I’m lacking in terms of motivating and urging people to vote, especially Chicanos. You know, while we Mexican Americans are in the majority among minorities, we are also the least voting people among Latinos. We have a voice, but we don’t vote; and we’ve suffered the most due to the consequences of not voting.

      “We have the numbers and we all know that; but we don’t use them because we don’t vote. It’s a shame that we Chicanos, Mexican Americans have the incredible ability to choose, yet we don’t vote. It’s really such a shame that we can’t get la raza, the Chicanos, out to vote,” Little Joe stated with a deep concern about the future.

“This year, my resolution is to try to encourage, to try to motivate as many people as I possibly can and do all I need to do to get the vote out. We have a great responsibility and I aim to do everything and anything I can to help all politicians, black, white and other, to turn the state back to blue.

     “This is what I’m hoping to do this year, to reach the people that come to the show, to motivate them by enticing them to go out and vote because we need to do that for the future of our country, for the future of our families. We have the numbers. We can do it. So, I want to dedicate as much time and energy to making that happen.

     “I’ve always told candidates I work with, ‘Look, I really don’t need to go preach to the choir. I don’t need to preach to the cheerleaders. ‘La gente que no vota (The people that don’t vote) is who I want to be in front of. Not the ones that are already voting and contributing to the community. That’s where I can be of service to you is with la raza, which I know personally.’ So, I’m good for la gente del pueblo (the people) that don’t vote, or maybe, they’re just thinking about it and haven’t decided to vote.

     “I would think that San Antonio was a case in point because when I was campaigning for Mayor (Ron) Nirenberg, people said, ‘if Joe is doing that, que me cuesta (what’s it going to cost me), and that’s true.

     “I’m hopeful and excited about next year; and the campaigns. So, I’m looking forward to working with the candidates that are running for office throughout Texas plus the Southwestern states.

     “I’m also excited about all the women getting involved and will be running for office in government because women are women whether you like it or not. We must admit that if it weren’t for women, we wouldn’t be here, right? (laughter).

     “I would love to see the Chicanitas get in there and kick ass, like Lupe Valdez in Dallas. I’m proud to say that I know Lupe Valdez. She’s an old friend-fan. I’ve met her before and I haven’t contacted her yet, but I want to be right there in her behalf. I want her to know that, win or lose, you’ll always be a winner if you try.

     “Can you image seeing the name of any Tejanita or any Latina, Hispanic running for office, in the school board, or any position? And when you do, vote for her. I mean, why not?

     When this writer reminded Little Joe about Dr. Pablo Ruiz and his Ignite the Vote organization, the Tejano living legend said, “Can you image what would happen if we could get 10,000 Ramon’s and other ‘Ignite the Vote’ members out there? Or what about a 100 of them. We must just go out and do it – ignite the vote.

     “While we may be the majority in number, we won’t get the education that our children need if we don’t get the funding for the teachers and educators that we need in the barrio.

     “There’s so many reasons that should drive us to the polls to vote, solo que no pierdo la esperanza (so I don’t lose hope). Estoy deseperanzado (I’m desperate) and I want to see the day when our young will get involved with the community by voting (if they are 18) and maybe by taking their parents and relatives – who don’t go or won’t go – to the polls. There’s so much that can be done.  I’ve always thought that if we can’t do it all, let us do all we can. That should be all we can do.

     “Unfortunately, not enough of us are contributing to the Mexican American community. So, I’m going to do whatever I can to get the vote out.”

     His deep, serious concerns are food-for-thought. Your vote does make a difference. Voting is a privilege, so you should exercise that privilege. Take responsibility for the future of this city, this state and our country. Therefore, I hope you take heed of Little Joe’s profound, powerful statements.

     According to his son Ivan, Little Joe has joined the Dr. Richard A. Johnson III camp (father of four children), who is running for U.S. Congress in Houston.  LJ has agreed to help him with pro bono spots, along with former two-time world heavyweight boxing champion and an Olympic Gold Medalist George Foreman. Now an ordained minister, author and entrepreneur.

     In all honesty, Little Joe has been fighting for la raza and the underdog since the start of the 1970s Chicano Movement. His album covers during that period reflect that involvement; and recordings such as “Que Sera De Mi” delivered a power message that still resonates and remains pertinent in this time and age.

     That is all, now get out and knock on doors, then insure you and everyone you knows gets to the polls to vote for the candidate they believe will make a difference.