The distinctions I make in writing this are only for clarification and are not meant to elevate one group over another. I am one of the millions of Hispanics in the U.S. who are multi-generational citizens of this country. That means we’ve been here a long time and it is no more accurate to call us immigrants than it is to ignore our vital stake in this country.
There is a critical difference between someone who is Hispanic and someone who is an immigrant (illegal or otherwise). Journalists seem to willfully lack that understanding and flow freely, mixing the Latino, Hispanic and illegal immigrant labels creating misinformation. Flipping back and forth between the terms Hispanic/Latino (broad ethnic reference) and immigrant (a legal status of specific group) in the headline of an article and within the text is misleading and sensationalist. For those of us who have paid to build this country with our “dues”, taxes and life commitment, it is not acceptable for sloppy writers to blur those lines. The effect of that blurring is the linking of an entire complex ethnic group into a simplistic pariah grouping.
The sentence: “Three convicted murderers were executed by their respective states in the past thirty days” reads in a completely different way when written: “Americans were killed by their own government last month” So, when the headline of an article states: “Hispanics Plan to Move Out of AZ Fearing New Law Will Affect Them” and the article goes on to interview only self-described illegal immigrants detailing their fear, I keep reading, looking for a broader group of mi gente on the move. When people of other ethnicity read that headline and article they gather that we are all the same, Hispanic/Latino means illegal immigrant. I’m not talking about your intelligent Anglo co-worker – I’m talking about the mob. So, yes, maybe that is your intelligent Anglo co-worker if gathered in the wrong mix.
Note this trend in journalism and speak up where you can, but how do we differentiate ourselves from our immigrant cousins while not denigrating them and joining the aforementioned mob? We should decide now – the times, they are a’changin.
by Adrian Gonzales Sr.