Monday, June 29, 2009

How liberals dismiss racial discrimination

What in the world is “Hispanic” or “Latino”, anyway?

My wife, who immigrated to this country (legally) from Venezuela and is now a US citizen (and conservative Republican, I’m proud to say), recently ran into an interesting conflict with her “Chicana” boss. This boss took issue with my wife and another Latina teacher, a Chilean working here legally on a visa, because they discovered some problems with the program that was negatively impacting the “Hispanic” children.

When they naively went to their boss, who was the principal who formed the program and so is “married” to the program and is sensitive to criticism, offering suggestions about some changes that could be made to improve the program, she exploded. From that moment on, she began to display a hostility toward them that at times included only lightly veiled attacks on their nationality and immigration status—both of which fall under workplace ethnic discrimination protections.

A number of commentaries by the principal caught our attention for being ethnically discriminatory. But her ultimate act, asking my wife and the other teacher about their immigration status, really alarmed us. The principal had seemed disappointed when informed that my wife was a US citizen. At first, we didn’t understand why she had asked, or why she had been disappointed by the answer. Shortly afterward, we discovered that the principal had called Human Resources to demand that the other teacher—the one working on a visa—be kicked out of the country the day after the school term ended. (She was told that she didn’t have that authority, and that her contract ran through July, so she could not be forced to leave the country).

The situation deteriorated to the point that grievances were filed, the principal punished both teachers with “Non-Renewal with Cause” recommendation to the district, which in turn blacklisted them both. (Come to find out, 11 teachers had left the school the year before out of frustrations built up over time centering on the exact same issues. Two of those teachers were also blacklisted and had to move across the state to find work--both of them were Hispanic...).

The most interesting exchange occurred when we met with another Chicano from within the district, in order to explain our problem. We outlined the commentaries and steps taken by this Chicana principal, and clarified that we felt these two teachers were the victims of discrimination based upon ethnicity and immigration status. His response? “Mrs. Gonzales (not her real name) is a Latina, and you are Latinas, so it’s not possible for her to discriminate against you based on ethnicity!”

My shock was not that anyone could say something so ignorant: it was that a so-called “Hispanic” could harbor such a shallow and clearly fallacious opinion. Let me clarify.

What is “Latino”? What is “Hispanic”? On US documentation, these terms are used interchangeably as an ethnic or racial choice. But this is patently absurd. “Hispanic” comes from a term referring to the Iberian Peninsula, also known as Spain today, and implies that persons belonging to this group share a common language, known popularly as “Spanish” but which is, in reality, Castellano, or a dialect thereof. Mexicans and Chicanos take offense at being called “Hispanic”, because they resent being classified as part of the ethnic group that includes the Spaniards who colonialized Mexico. Likewise, “Latino” is a term implying that the individual is part of a group whose linguistic origins are “Latin Based”—for this reason, Brazilians and even Portuguese can be lumped in with Spaniards, Mexicans, Venezuelans, etc. Ironically, Italians and French are not included in the grouping.

But these definitions are based upon Linguistic, rather than ethnic or racial traits. Latin Americans can be Black, Asian, Native American, or European, racially. So to try to say that everyone who is “Latino” is ethnically homogenous is as absurd as saying that everyone who speaks English is white.

What’s more, anyone who knows anything about Latin Americans knows that, while they constantly deny the existence of racism in their countries, they regularly exhibit behaviors that belie that claim. Mexicans openly despise Guatemalans or Hondurans, who in turn despise each other as well. If you win the trust of Costa Ricans, you may be regaled with stories about how horrible Nicaraguans are. And everyone in Latin America treats Argentines as the “Polack” of every joke. In short, hatred for ethnic groups is often disguised as “nationalism”, but it still is based upon ethnicity.

When I asked him if it would be racism if a Spaniard hated Mexicans, he quickly responded “Yes.” When I asked him if it would be racism if a white Cuban hated black Cubans, he also nodded affirmatively. So when I asked him if a Mexican hated a Venezuelan, would that be racism, he paused, clearly startled by the implication. He didn’t want to answer. “And how about a person of Chicano descent who hates blacks, or Puerto Ricans, or Cubans? Isn’t that racism?”

The point here is that while it is convenient for Latinos to claim that they are not racist, and to deny that they can discriminate against each other, the truth is that it is a regular occurrence.

He tried to wiggle out of the predicament by throwing me a curveball. “But it’s only racism if the person is in a position of power.”

“So if a Latino police officer hates Blacks and abuses his power, is that racism?”
“Of course.”
“And if that police officer was a white Cuban, and abused Mexican immigrants, racism or not?”
After a pause… “Yes.”
“So if it’s a Chicana principal with the power to destroy a career, and abuses her teachers based on their ethnicity?”
No answer.

Does it surprise you to find out that the gentleman in this story is a Democrat Union Representative and a hard core liberal?

And thus we illustrate an undeniable truth: People of color can be racists, abuse their power, and victimize other people—even of their same “ethnicity”. But Liberals will never admit it. And when a Latino is victimized by another Latino, Liberals will simply ignore the racial undertones and allow the abuse to continue.

So much for protection from ethnic discrimination!


the boss hog said...

Shakedown Crews, 1st off, let me say I found your blog some time ago and check your posting from time to time. You post some very thoughtful stuff, but this is a very eye opening posting. What got my attention the most is the fact that you were so challenged with explaining the issue of racism to a "Democrat Union Representative". It's ironic b/c they claim to be champions of the fight against racism. Also, was this a rep w/ the teacher's union? We have the same fight here in my home state of Alabama.The teachers union (Alabama Educators Association) run the state legislature. They spend the money they get from hard working under paid teachers buying off state politicians. All the while, they label conservatives as being "uncommitted to education". I pray that things work out for your wife. She should take this story to the news media. With Judge Sotomayor being a hot button topic right now, she should be able to get someone to listen and report on this. I definitely would not lay down on this.

Anonymous said...

It's hilarious that you would refer to "Polack" jokes in an article about ethnic discrimination.

As you would say "so much for protection from ethnic discrimination" Hypocrite. LOL

Shakedown Crews said...

Hey, Anonymous dumb-ass: if you'll note, I was explaining that they regularly make jokes about certain ethnicities that are the equivalent to the commonly told "Polack" jokes. I didn't make one. But of course, that kind of subtlety is lost on some people. That doesn't make me a "hypocrite", it makes you a bonehead.