Once Upon a Time
Once upon a time (early 1950’s) there were iconic Latinos that were as visible as invincible. There was Ricky Ricardo, star of the very popular TV show, I Love Lucy. He was of Cuban descent. His accent and Latin music did not seem to bother anyone.
There was the bad boy of tennis, Pancho Gonzalez. He got kicked out of school and the Navy. He was also a tennis champion. He terrorized the tennis world for years. The movie Giant showed us what it was like being a Mexican American in Texas. The movie West Side Story brought the reality of living in an urban area to life. Richie Valence showed us that you had a better chance of success if you Anglicized your last name.
“Who would believe that the richest man in the world would have a Spanish last name?”
The Browning of America was expedited by the Chicano Movement. Chicanos stood up and demanded better opportunities to succeed in this world that they had worked hard to create. Led by leaders like Cesar Chavez there was a renaissance of Chicano culture. Our culture runs parallel to Anglo culture.
All this time we Latinos have been visible. For those that lived in a cocoon, perhaps we were invincible. Perhaps the Civil Rights Movement called for radical change on the part of institutions, government to corporations. If you were not alive during the Civil Rights Movement what you read in a textbook does not fully describe what the era was all about and what many of us went through. Books do not convey feelings. I recall my experience in the Army and the brutal experience of being called every racial slur for over a year. The temptation to stand up and fight was much stronger than that of being passive or docile. Ultimately, I learned that rank was a great equalizer in the military. The equivalent in the civilian world was a position of higher authority. Who would believe that the richest man in the world would have a Spanish last name?
It was into this world that those exiting the cocoon emerged into. White Privilege and Affluenza were no longer sufficient to get ahead. Even though in small numbers, minorities made giant strides. They opened the door for many to follow. Whereas once upon a time there were few Latinos in important positions, nowadays they are everywhere. The difference between now and the time I was being abused in the Army is that now it is the Commander in Chief that is doing the denigrating and abusing.
So, it came to pass that a young man took a trip to downtown Plano and noticed that there were many Latinos. Latino businesses take at least three streets in Plano. It must have been a rude awakening. Then he remembered what Trump said about Mexicans being killers, and the rhetoric continued. Yes, WE are the people that Trump was talking about. When the crowd started chanting “send ‘em back”, the message can be interpreted several ways. For us that are American citizens where would we be sent to?
This young man became a loyal soldier for White Supremacy. For all those have come out of their cocoon, Welcome to the new America.
There are those that say Trump is not a racist, he just uses racism as a political strategy. It is easy to see that Trump’s base will never abandon him. They seem to be White Nationalists and White Supremacists and Trump is the Grand Wizard. Trump is exploiting a human weakness to his political advantage. If the country is going to survive it will be the other non-Trump part of the electorate to come out and vote in larger numbers than Trump followers. He is a racist.
When we speak of illegal immigration, we should recall that all incursions into Native American land were illegal. That includes Plymouth. We should all recall that
the Mississippi River was the boundary between the United States and Spain. All incursions west were illegal immigration. The Lewis and Clark Expedition was an invasion of Spanish land. Zebulon Pike likewise also invaded Spanish soil. Normally, unauthorized incursions resulted in the death penalty. Pike was fortunate that when he got caught, he was sent to prison. Philip Nolan was not so fortunate, he and his band of about 40 people were caught in today’s Bosque County and killed by the Spanish military.
Immigration is a problem. It is a problem with a solution. Unfortunately, politicians from both parties have been more interested in getting reelected than doing what they were sent to Washington to do, take care of America’s business. At the moment, Trump and the Republicans are more concerned about getting reelected. So are Democrats in swing districts. All the negative accusations Trump made against Latinos are to keep his base satisfied. Anything to win an election.
We must also distinguish between those immigrants that have been in America for a few years and have children that were born here that are American citizens. These immigrants contribute to the economy and are not a drain on society as Republicans would have you believe. Families should not be split. Congress needs to find a solution for those immigrants have lived in America and have children here. We all support returning immigrants that have committed serious felonies. The crisis at the border is manufactured and that needs a solution also.
Fortunately, there is a way out of this morass. Vote. For you and me it is the only solution. Get our whole family to vote. Get all your friends to go vote. Get involved. Do your part. This is one time that you are not voting for a party. You are voting for what is best for America. You must put America above party.
See you at the ballot box.