The weight of opinion

Op-Eds & Blogs
My op-ed, 'Minority Groups' Have Outgrown Their Labels, is now up at the Los Angeles Times.

Writing op-eds is rare for me. My only previous one appeared in Newsday in 1995. In Languages Don't Bind People I managed to connect language issues facing Hispanics in the U.S. to 1995's big story, the war in the Balkans. (Quite a trick, but it got the editor's attention.)

Like you, I have lots opinions. I consider it irresponsible not to form an opinion on important issues of the day, and I've even got lots of opinions on unimportant issues. Generally, if I feel the urge to express them, I put them on this blog.

This time, however, I had an opinion about something I'd written a whole book about. So when César Chelala called me Wednesday evening to urge me to write an op-ed on something in that morning's news, I already had, and had sent it off to The New York Times. César, an old friend, has written hundreds of op-eds for papers all over the world (look at this list of 53 op-eds by Chelala at the Japan Times). He suggested the LA Times for this topic. Great idea, I thought, but I didn't want to send them the same article -- not just because of journalistic scruple, but because, with a few more hours to think about it, I'd come up with another angle.

The one I sent to the NYT basically rehashes my book's argument about how a new "Hispanic/Latino" identity is being formed. This one, written Thursday afternoon, is, as you can see, about a different, conceptual issue. Thanks to C�sar for suggesting the LA Times. Editor Bruce McLeod got back to me right away, wanted the piece but wanted me to amplify it by about 50 more words -- if I could write it fast enough to get it to him before lunch, LA time. And I did, and he and I talked through the minor editorial changes cordially and efficiently (e.g. they especially liked a thought in my last paragraph and wanted it moved up higher in the story, which seemed like a good idea to me). And there it is.

I still haven't heard back from the NYT, by the way. César tells me they can take as long as 10 days to respond, by which time the topic has probably grown cold. But no matter. If they like it, it's an entirely different piece. And if they don't, well, I've still got my blog, and if I want to, I can write a new op-ed in a hurry.