1.20.2007

Let's Not Aid the Racists

by Jenny

I’ve noticed lately that the MSM has run a lot of stories on the “growing” tensions between Blacks and Latinos. Just last week, I saw a story about a race riot in California between Blacks and Latinos.

I’m reminded of an incident that happened as a child. While visiting my beloved Anglo grandmother, she says to my aunts and uncles, as she kind of laughed: "It used to be the Whites and Blacks beating each other up in the city high schools, but now it's the Blacks and Latinos."

Strange.....I hadn't noticed that at my school.

Years later while living in Wisconsin, my Anglo ex recounted how, in an effort to “diversify” the workforce at the factory, his bosses hired local African Americans workers. They were then promptly dismissed supposedly because they didn’t “work out.” The new solution? To bus in Mexican laborers from out-of-state.

In support of this labor strategy, former Mexican President Vicente Fox expressed his view that Mexican workers come to the U.S. to do jobs that even Blacks don't want to do.

I was shocked. No - I wasn't shocked over what he said. I was shocked that Americans everywhere in the media acted like that was the first time anyone ever said that out loud.

Now, I had worked for State Unemployment for several years, and was specifically hired to work with migrant laborers. Usually they worked in food processing plants, or meat packing plants. The factories recruited the workers to come up and work seasonally. It was common knowledge that the Mexican workers would work for less, and under more dangerous conditions than Americans. That's why they’re recruited, right?

Unfortunately, there is truth in the fact that when you have people competing for the same housing, employment opportunities, etc, things can get tense, and along with it, resentment and sometimes distrust can build. Add language and cultural differences, and you have a potentially explosive situation.

Finally, there’s a young, female African American social worker I know, speaks Spanish. "Do you ever practice your Spanish with your clients?" I asked her. "No." Then she went on to say that many Latinos don't like it when she speaks Spanish to them. That is a shame. In this day and age of "English-Only" agendas, and rationalized distrust of Latino immigrants, when someone tries to converse with us in Spanish, we feel suspicious, distrusting, offended or whatever the feeling is?

There are people in our country who are distrustful, hateful, and fearful of anything and anyone different from themselves. When these people have power, it can get scary. Take the article "Hispanic Family Values?" - by Heather McDonald. (No, I guess I haven't quite gotten over that yet. Read my rebuttal here.) In her article, where she tries to tear apart any idea of a functional Latino family, she can't help herself, but to throw in a dig or two at African Americans as well (I guess she wants to make sure she hasn't left anyone out) when she says:
"Yet for all these markers of social dysfunction, fatherless Latino families differ from the black underclass in one significant area: many of the mothers and the absent fathers work, even despite growing welfare use."
Is this supposed to be a way of complimenting Latinos, after putting them down for several paragraphs? Is it supposed to make us say, Oh, yeah....at least we're not Black!? Or is it what it is: a sign that the writer pretty much generalizes the lives of all Latinos and Blacks into one trash pile of mess!

What Latinos need to remember is that, if it hadn't been for some of our great, African American civil rights leaders like Frederick Douglas, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Andrew Young and many others, who spent and continue to spend their lives working for equal rights for all people, we would not have many of the opportunities that we have today.

While we may not be able to change the thinking of bigots, we can make a conscience choice not to be like them. No matter what our circumstances in life, we can make a choice to respect differences in people, and learn from each other. We can do our part to live Martin Luther King's dream, and try to "judge people by the content of their character, and not the color of their skin."