by Nick Baez
Last week, I wrote a piece discussing a disturbing trend among some folks within the Latino community: when those who are a part of a historically disenfranchised group subscribe to the same rhetoric that causes pain, marginalization, and further disenfranchisement. I spoke of two ways in which this occurs within our community: when Latinos are anti-LGBT, and when Latinos disparage our poorest citizens. In addition to the two examples I provided in Part I of this article, there are also two other examples I have observed a significant number of instances:
When Latinos accuse other Latinos of “trying to act Black”
I don’t know about you, but I have been accused of this a number of times, and I still don’t know what the heck this means. In spite of the absurd underlying assumptions of this statement (i.e., that all Black folks are the same), such beliefs do not bode well for building solidarity amongst two groups of citizens who have common social and historical experiences. I have come to expect such divisive rhetoric to be spewed by talking heads and pundits who have a vested interest in pitting Blacks and Latinos against one another, but it saddens me to see Latinos adopt such mindsets.
Moreover, when you consider that the combined legacies of slavery, colonialism, and imperialism greatly contributed to the production of a highly diverse Latino culture (particularly in the Western Hemisphere), our common experiences of hardships become especially relevant. However, when Latinos accuse other Latinos of “trying to act Black,” the underlying belief is that “being Black” is something we should avoid at all costs. Such a mindset only serves to perpetuate the injustices that have plagued both Blacks and Latinos in this country.
When Latinos support anti-immigrant rhetoric
It always seems that the conversation starts and ends with the state of Arizona, and its many draconian proposals that have targeted Latino immigrants and migrant workers (many of which have been duplicated in other states). However, it is important to note that the flames of bigotry were fanned by a growing anti-Latino sentiment that swept across the country over the past few years. As history has shown on multiple occasions, during times of economic hardship, the narrative of fear takes firm hold amongst citizens, and “easy scapegoats” are identified in an effort to explain such hardship. Again, I have come to expect such rhetoric from talking heads with a vested interest in creating a fear/hatred of immigrants and migrant workers (even though these same individuals never question why their favorite vegetables are only 4 for $1).
But such rhetoric, coming from members of the Latino community (especially from those in leadership positions), represents a hypocrisy of astronomical proportions. Aside from the fact that many of us are standing on land that once belonged to Mexico, consider the sheer absurdity of one Latino telling another Latino, “get out and go back to your country.” Additionally, adopting such rhetoric into our own narratives does nothing except perpetuate the multitude of injustices that our fellow Latino migrant workers and immigrants face on a daily basis.
In the instances I described in both articles, the collective political, social, and intellectual leverage of the Latino community is weakened in the eyes of society. After all, how can the Latino community be taken seriously as a global force, when some of our members engage in the very rhetoric that has been used against folks of our heritage for centuries?
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those
of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.