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In closing, racism is a negative aspect of society, the likes of which are unparalleled, and, unfortunately, it appears to be here to stay. While studies regarding such topics as Latino acceptance in America, acculturation’s effect on racism in general, and the controversial policies of the Mexican border may still be in their infancy as these are very contemporary concepts in United States, future academics may be interest in following up on why some Hispanics are accepted by Anglos while others are treated so poorly. In other words, why did the enraged and impassioned crowd accept that woman, when they were protesting against people just like her living in America? What differentiated her from the man behind the camera in the eyes of those men and women when to the eye there appears to be no difference? Moreover, America is not the only country that deals with the problem of racism. Perhaps more light could be shed on the topic with cross-sectional studies involving multiple countries, observations of their in- and out- groups with comparisons made to the American population.

The pressures of Americanization no doubt have always played a massive role in who bears the brunt of the hatred and who does not, as, historically, the more assimilated one is, often, the more accepted by the majority. However, in modern America, the lines have become more blurred with regard to who is accepted and who is not. While acculturation used to hold the key to Anglo approval of any non- white community, it seems as if the recent political controversy regarding the Mexican border has made Latino reception in American a very negative one. Exemplified in the Mexican vs. Racist Angry White Minutemen video, acculturation is no longer the ticket to true Americanization, in the sense that other Americans accept you as one of their own. Additionally, acculuration may even breed more racism as seen in the statistical findings of Regina Branton.

The one Hispanic woman in the crowd of racist protestors does not come to the aid of this young man who is surrounded by those whose attitudes seem to be escalating to the brink of violence. Despite the fact that none of the white women appear to be talking to her, clearly shutting her out of their circle in the background of the camera shot, she stands proudly with her Anglo “brethren” against a man with whom she shares a similar heritage. While many may find her presence in this unruly crowd unlikely, and frankly hypocritical, this trend of assimilated Latino’s turning their back’s on new immigrants from their country of origin is not a new idea. Focusing primarily on the statistical trends in Latino public opinion in her article, “Latino Attitudes toward Various Areas of Public Policy: The Importance of Acculturation,” Regina Branton found assimilation to be somewhat of a double edged sword as those Latinos who are acculturated tend to relate more to the Anglo population than sympathize with new immigrants. With respect to differences such as dominant language, birth place, parents’ country or origin and number of years spent living in America, Branton drafted a survey focusing on various controversial policies dealing with legal and illegal immigration in America hoping to get an idea of generation changes in opinion in Latinos.

36. Border Wars E

Yelling proudly that Americans should “report illegal aliens” because “we are losing our country and our sovereignty” at the hands of “you people [who] are destroying our country,” elderly men and women spew insults and jabs at a young Latino who films the caustic protest on his camera. The man behind the camera, who proclaims himself to be from Jalisco, Mexico, bears the brunt of hate and racism being called a “fucking coward,” a “cockroach,” “a racist idiot” and told to “go back to where he came from.” He is abrasively told that “his people” only come to American soil to “mooch off of [their] country” when they should be “fixing their own country.” The use of words and phrases like “our country” and “you people” show the distinct “us versus them” mentality that these men and women hold. They don’t view this man as a fellow citizen of America, as they never ask him his citizenship status, and assume him to be of illegal status based solely on the fact that he is Mexican. Very knowledgeable of United States history, the man asks the protestors, “Where did your ancestors come from? Europe! Did they do so because they were cowards? I’m indigenous to the continent.” His sound argument is only met with more sharp and cutting words as the men and women waving American flags tell him that he has no Mexican pride and should “go home.”

‘They say there is no discrimination, but we have only to look around us to know the truth. We look at the schools… the houses we live in… the few opportunities… and we just know.’ …Coming of age in the late 1950s and early 1960s, these young, increasingly acculturated students exhibited a growing understanding of their individual civil rights and their standing as U.S. citizens of Mexican American descent. At the local level, they resisted the domination of Anglos by demanding the full exercise of those rights guaranteed them by the federal government. (Rodriguez, 278,9)

While to the white majority no discrimination was though to exist against the Mexican- Ameican community, Jose Angel Gutierrez, a young protestor, was quoted by Rodriguez claiming the opposite. Perhaps outright prejudices were quelled, such as derogatory racial slurs and mandated segregation, however, the neighborhoods, school districts and opportunities for success in America were so lacking for the Latino community when compared to that of the Anglos that, to them, there was no question as to whether discrimination existed- “they just [knew].” Rodriguez goes on to explain that the majority of the movement was carried out by “increasingly acculturated” Latino youths. In other words, these students’ culture had been altered by American influence so much so that they were no longer solely one breed as they now possessed both Mexican and American ideals and traits. With this advantaged they fully understood their “individual and civil right” and how to “fully exercise those rights as guaranteed to them by the federal government” in order to promote their agenda of equality for all Mexican Americans. However, the key to their success in Mexican American Civil Rights Movement rests entirely on the fact that the students had partially, if not mostly, Americanized themselves.

On these lands lived a population that was wise, well disposed and politically well organized. As usual, the tyrants perpetrated massacres with the aim of instilling and spreading terror … When the conquerors entered a town, they were greeted cheerfully and were given all the food they required … They have committed unheard- of cruelties … against those innocent and harmless peoples. (de Las Casas, 19-20)

Reported as “tyrants” with the sole “aim of instilling and spreading terror,” the colonizers “perpetrated massacres” against Indian towns in which they were originally “greeted cheerfully” and graciously provided with food on which to survive.  Described as both “innocent and harmless” as well as “wise, well disposed and politically well organized” the Spaniards are entirely unprovoked in their attacks on the Indians, making these colonial encounters the first examples of European prejudice towards the Hispanic population in America. For the first time, the Spaniards encountered a people who were entirely different from them, on both the physical and cultural levels. Being of different races, faiths, traditions, clothing and customs, the Europeans immediately deemed themselves superior to these so- called savages and sought to exterminate them entirely. On this basis alone, the colonizers saw no foul in treating the lives of the Native American and Hispanic peoples as subhuman, erroneous and expendable.

[…]of all the infinite universe of humanity, these people are the most guileless, the most devoid of wickedness and duplicity, the most obedient and faithful to their native masters and to the Spanish Christians whom they serve[…] These people are the most devoid of rancors, hatreds, or desire for vengeance of any people in the world. (de Las Casas, 15)

Referring to them as some of the best human beings in “all the infinite universe;” being “devoid of wickedness and duplicity,” de Las Casas praises the purity of spirit and allegiance to the colonizers that the Native American and Hispanic people portray. Often described with words and phrases like  ”hatred”, “wickedness” and thirst for “vengeance,” de Las Casas, unequivocally, characterizes them as lacking these qualities most of “any people in the world.” With this in mind, it is difficult to understand why anyone would want to harm these individuals or taint their amenable culture; however, this is exactly what the Spanish aimed to do. The Spanish looked down upon these people because their practices were so vastly different from that of the Europeans. Under the guise of Christianizing the savage, in other words, exterminating a culture that was different from theirs for the sake of uniformity, the Spaniards killed an infinite number of Indians and destroyed their villages.

32. IE Intro

This singular fact lies at the root of countless misunderstandings. Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Arab, or African cultures may leave the European North American enthusiastic, indifferent, or even depressed.  But it would never occur him to confuse a Chinese with a Norwegian, or a Bantu with an Italian; nor would it occur to him to ask whether they exist.  (Retamar, A110)

 

Fernandez argues that while other cultures, mentioning the Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Arab, African, Norwegian, Italian and Bantu communities, are able to conserve their cultures in America, the Latino race has been swallowed whole by white influence. He goes on to say that these cultures would never be mistaken for each other nor would their existence be forgotten altogether, alluding to his argument that the Latino culture has been drowned out completely, an issue lying “at the root of countless [cultural] misunderstandings. This article will argue that the initial burden of cultural conformity felt by the Latino community by the European colonizers is still just as strongly realized today as modern Americans continue to promote the same racial biases on this group people. However, while this push for total assimilation is thought to be an act of American nationalism by the white majority, it is in fact a negative entity which breeds continual intolerance for the proverbial “other” and wholly defies the notion of the American melting pot.

31. Abstract

For my final article, I aim to prove that the struggle for hyphenated- Americans is rooted in racism dating back to the colonial era. Additionally, I will argue that hyphenated living, embracing American culture while holding on to traditions of one’s own heritage, is more beneficial for all American with regard to the promotion of tolerance. For this to happen, however, both sides must come together to create the actualization of the true “melting pot” America claims to be. I will use Bartolome de las Casas’  “Devistation in the Indies: A Brief Account” to demonstrate the deep seeded racism that existed in colonial times toward any culture that was different from that of the Anglo Saxons and explain how this tradition of hatred still exists today. Citing works such as “I Am Joaquin” by Rudolofo “Corky” Gonzales, The Wrong Lunch Line: Early Spring 1946 by Nicholassa Mohr and Hunger of Memory: Aria by Richard Rodriguez to illustrate how this history of intolerance forces immigrants to feel as if they must assimilate totally into the American culture, despite the clear benefits of hyphenated living.  Finally, citing social statistics from Regina Branton’s “Latino Attitudes toward Various Areas of Public Policy: The Importance of Acculturation” and Tanya Golash-Boza “Dropping the Hyphen? Becoming Latino(a)-American through Racialized Assimilation,” as well as the “Border Wars” video, I will continue to shed light on the negative affect total assimilation has on social society and public opinion.

 

 

“And, in a way, it didn’t matter very much that my parents could not speak English with ease. Their linguistic difficulties has no serious consequences. My mother and father made themselves understood at the county hospital clinic and at the government offices. And yet, in another way, it mattered very much – it was unsettling to hear my parents struggle with English. Hearing them, I’d grow nervous, my clutching trust in their protection and power weakened” (Rodriguez 1578).

Richard Rodriguez remarks on the ways in which “linguistic difficulties” with respect to learning English effected his family. Although his parents made themselves understood in places such as “the county hospital clinic and government offices” he continues to feel uncomfortable with his parents struggle to communicate in America. Rodriguez relates his parent’s lack of proficiency with respect to the English language as a “weakened power,” suggesting that a proficient knowledge of the language can act as “protection” from those who may seek to take advantage of people who suffer with the language barrier. This idea is at the crux of the matter when it comes to assimilation. Although many wish to communicate in their mother tongue, for reasons such as tradition and comfort, however when it comes to the English language in America, knowledge is power.

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