Fort Worth is going through some tough times racially. So much that even a committee has been formed to look at the problem. Of course, the committee is not going to solve anything, but it will look at the problem. They all do. A committee can look but at a problem but it cannot fix it. At best this is a feeble attempt to make us feel like the establishment really cares.
I recall 1972 when the Air Force was having massive race relations problems. African Americans had confiscated a dining hall at Travis AFB, CA and the leadership really did not know how to handle the situation. This was during the Civil Rights Movement and tensions were running high everywhere. In response to this threat of national security, the military instituted intense race relations training to all military personnel, officer and enlisted. This training was to mollify African Americans.
To make things equal the training sessions were done in civilian clothes so no one would be intimidated by rank. This is an example of proactive leadership. This race relations training was not concerned with Mexican Americans or Puerto Ricans, we were used to the discrimination and we were not used to being disorderly. We were used to being passive. In a way, you could say that the African Americans have carried a disproportionate amount of the fight for racial equality.
In addition to education, the military attempted level the playing field by promoting more minorities to senior positions, enlisted and officers. This attempt was not well received amongst the Anglos because it was perceived that there was a quota system and minorities were promoted based on color and not skill. Historically, well qualified minorities were passed over for promotion because of opposition by Anglos. It was said that for a minority to be promoted had to be three times as qualified as an Anglo.
Those of us that were there went through this period recall these dismal times. Today Anglos are now subordinate to minorities. It is a different world. There are those my age in Fort Worth that have witnessed the same change that I have.
Those soldiers that greeted me with racial slurs in my first assignment, many are still around. Many passed on their racial discrimination to their children. Their children are the same age as mine. Most carry the racism in their genes. On North Main is the Ellis Pecan Factory. It was the headquarters for the KKK. How many members of the establishment had fathers or grandfathers that attended KKK meetings? How many belong to racially segregated lodges like the Moose Lodge? Fort Worth has a racist past. A committee is not going to change the history. Education will.
The racial landscape has changed a lot in the past 50 years. You no longer have just African Americans and Mexican Americans. Now you have Vietnamese, Indian, Pakistanis, Middle Easterners, North and South Africa and others. The landscape is a lot different.
If you are White and you see all these different people, you are going to feel out of place. It is time for the establishment in Fort Worth to stop and smell the flowers. Many of the people that you see daily are not White. Many of your children have married someone other than White. This is probably something that you would not have seen growing up. If you go to Spain you will notice that the people of Southern Spain are slightly darker than their Meseta countrymen that have Germanic features of blond and blue eyes. 700 years of Muslim rule took its toll on southern Spain. Just like Spain is different, America is different.
We Mexican American descendants of the original coal miners (1882) and railroad workers need to take the lead. We cannot lay back and rest in comfort because “I made it.” You cannot rest on your laurels. It is time to give back. We must give our children the opportunity that was not available to those 1st and 2d generation that were denied equal access to education.