When we talk about unity, I think it’s very important to keep the messages positive in all directions. There is a great temptation to turn that unity into tyranny, either against Latinos who don’t fit into a particular mold (whether they are progressive or conservative, white or black, gay or straight) or other communities, even governments. It’s easy to vilify others when we have years of marginalization and oppression simmering under the surface of our existence.
Racism, classism, intolerance, and hate are still abundant in our world. When we examine problems in modern American society, we find the undercurrent of anger, resentment, and fear that laces our interactions with each other. There is also a distinct lack of shared perspective and understanding.
To have productive discussions about very real, very complicated, and very important problems, it is important to remain as objective and unemotional as possible. We must be passionate about research and debate, without letting the passion overwhelm us and turn debate into fighting. We want to challenge our friends, our family, our community, and others to think in new ways and to question long-held assumptions. We need to challenge bad ideas, not people. Fight the ideas that underlie racism and fear, not groups of people who, out of ignorance, have propagated that hate and fear. Hateful people are not the problem—they are a symptom of the problem. People come and go; some will be memorable, others not. It’s the ideas that linger!
If we want people to change, we must challenge their assumptions. We must each do our own research and come up with new, exciting, and compelling ideas to replace obsolete ones. Screaming “white panic,” pointing fingers at people, and losing sight of the end goal only plays into ignorance and fear. Education is so important because it is the ammunition we need to fight a war of bad ideas, not a war of people. If we want to see peace in our lifetime, we have to redefine the conflict and the field of battle. Let the pen be mightier than the sword, and let’s focus our energy on mounting an effective offensive against the real enemy.
by Melissa Garcia Logan