Your argument for Mexican supremacy is interesting.
I stumbled on to a new kind of hate site today. This isn’t your normal KKK website, this is a new breed of racist hate site. It’s a Mexican/Latino supremacy type site. Here are some of the more interesting quotes from the site:
- Europeans Collectively have been illegally occupying our continent, like thieves, criminals, killers, parasites on our people and our continent, stealing the wealth of our lands, killing 95% of our people, intentionally using biological warfare (in the form of smallpox that killed 70 to 100 million of our people with this monstrous weapon of mass destruction), enslaving the remains of our people, and using their deformed White Supremacy morality to justify all of their crimes and injustices since 1492!
- We are Nican Tlaca, the Indigenous People of Canada, U.S., Mexico, and “Central America”. We reject the European divisions of our continent. We reject the artificial divisions of our people. We include “First Nation” and “Native American” and “South American” Nican Tlaca. We say, “No to occupation!” We say, “This is still our continent!”
- There is today a small, but loud, violent, and powerful part of the European descent people of the world who are sociopathic, mentally sick people, that still hold onto the monstrous (colonial) white supremacist belief that the white race is somehow entitled to continue taking (stealing) wealth from the non-white nations of the world, without serious ethical or moral consequences.
- We totally reject all illegal European colonial squatter occupation borders on our continent. We also reject COLONIALISM’S false right to keep stealing the wealth of our lands, our continent. AND we also reject their artificial divisions of our people, and their right or power to define who we are as People on our continent!
- “Thou shall not bear false witness” means it is against the ten commandments to lie.
- This pope is a white supremacist. To cover up a crime is equal to the original crime. This pope is participating in the Genocide and the enslavement of our people.
- White denial of how they are still an illegal white colony on our continent.
- White denial of the savage crimes that they committed to gain everything.
- White denial of the deformed morality that is the heart of white supremacy.
- White denial of how racism is built into everything that is American culture.
- White denial of racism in discussions relating to issues of immigration.
- White denial of the 200 year history of U.S. racist immigration laws.
- White denial of how the Minutemen are just another form of the KKK.
- White denial of the falseness and hypocrisy of their actions as “Christians”.
- White denial of how they are immorally profiting today from past injustices.
- White denial of the smallpox biological warfare that killed 95% of our people.
- White denial protects their children from shame of their heritage of crimes.
- White denial even keeps our children in ignorance of European crimes, the genocide of our people, and how we have been robbed by Europeans of all of our continent and of our full dignity as human beings.
- Well, what else can I say that hasn’t been covered above? Kill the white man! Down with America! Oh wait, they covered that. If you would like to visit this wonderful site, here’s the link to this Mexican Supremacy site.
You should also feel free to contact these animals, here’s the contact information:
You see there is documented evidence of Mexico’s desire for the reconquest of the territory lost during the Mexican-American war, documented evidence of major Mexican groups participation in pro-communist movements with Anti-American objectives. These groups are well known for there hatred of whites, and those of European decent. You over look these, your apologetic pro-illegal alien comments show your own hatred, for Americans, anything illegal aliens due is justified in your mind, you are a liberal.
Comments by Vernellia R. Randall is offensive, their hatred for Americans is shown every time they teaches a class, I would think that a university such as yours would monitor and protect its students from such hate speech, but I guess not.
Marcus Reeves, TellSpin
January 28, 2002
Fear of a Latin Planet: An African American’s advice to our soon-to-be largest minority group
Dear Latin Americans:
I got the idea to write this letter after seeing the Puerto Rican Day Parade on TV this summer. Nothing struck me as different about the event until a Latina announcer commented, “In five years, Latin Americans will be the largest minority group in America, 13 percent — surpassing African Americans.”
“Damn!” I thought with a slight but concerned smirk, “Where’s that gonna leave us?”
I pondered the thought of African America’s shifting relationship with the mainstream. Would Hollywood replace the buffooning, politically nonthreatening black sidekick used in buddy flicks with a Hispanic counterpart? Would black people no longer have exclusive access to that great political and economic tit called White Guilt?
But my thoughts and concerns were only fleeting because, priding myself on being progressive, I realized that things change. So I decided, in good faith, to write you a note. Sort of a passing on of wisdom from the old guard to the new.
First: Don’t change the name of your group every 15 to 20 years. You’ve progressed from Spanish to Hispanic to the more appropriate Latin American. Stick with that. Changing labels only confuses matters and reeks of cultural and social schizophrenia. And it’s embarrassing when outsiders start asking, “What are youze people calling yourselves now?” Hell, just look at our dizzying trek through names — from Colored to Negro to Ethiopians (if you were down with Marcus Garvey), Asiatic (if you were down with Elijah Muhammad), to black to Afro-American to Nubian to African American. Oh, and don’t forget nigger (which wasn’t our idea), or nigga. Bottom line: Simplicity and consistency work.
Next: Copyright all jargon, colloquialisms, and slang terms you invent. Pop culture works from the bottom up, and it usually draws its language from African-based minorities. Protect yourself and get the whole enchilada. (Hey! You may want to start with that one.) If the terms hit big, you get paid. If they stay local, at least you retain control. God knows we’d be gazillionaires had we just copyrighted things like rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, rappin’, booya! and that greeting for the 21st century, Wuzzuuuuup!
Since you’ll be the top dog minority, universities and corporations will start accepting more of you to “diversify” their appearance. If you are the person picked, don’t fully believe the I’ve-made-it hype. You are a political and economic tool, so think and move accordingly. Use the resources from that place to build something lucrative for yourself and your people. And do it quick, before Republicans start thinking they’ve paid whatever debt America owes you and start taking shit away.
Also, nip that division along dark/light complexions in the bud. Don’t think folks aren’t listening when, for instance, non-Dominicans call Dominicans “the niggers of the Latin world,” or say that Mexicans are lowest on the Latin totem pole. In the mainstream’s eye, a nigger can be a spic, but all spics are niggers (you just got off the slave ships a little early).
My final piece of advice has to do with politics. In the event of a fight for civil or human rights in this country, don’t let the media pick your leaders. I bring up this point because when you become the largest minority group, things will prove to be interesting. With your numbers rising in states like California, the minorities (Latinos, blacks, and Asians) become the majority — and New York, Texas, and Florida are soon to follow. When the “majority” starts to feel the squeeze, look out for the backlash and the slipping away of rights and services. After you start voicing your discontent, the media will pick a moderate figure from your group — someone who has no interest and no connection to your angst — to quote and put in the spotlight.
There you have it. I hope my suggestions are useful when you’re passed the scepter of “majority minority” in 2005. These words, though they’re premature, should help ease you through a future you’ll spend maneuvering through that double-edged and fork-tongued acceptance by the mainstream.
When your day finally arrives, we’ll simply set a bigger place at the table and enjoy the company as we all keep white America guessing about who’s coming to dinner.
Marcus Reeves is the Publisher and Editor-in-chief of
George A. Martinez
excerpted from: George A. Martinez, African-Americans, Latinos, and the Construction of Race: Toward an Epistemic Coalition, 19 Chicano-Latino Law Review 213-222 , 214-216 (Spring 1998) (54 Footnotes)
I want to focus on the example of Mexican-Americans. Mexican-Americans have been legally classified as white. That legal classification impacts the relationship between African-Americans and Mexican-Americans. It creates a barrier to coalitions with African-Americans and other non-white minorities.
An example from Dallas, Texas is instructive. In the City of Dallas, there are currently major battles between African-Americans and Mexican-Americans over the direction of the Dallas School District. In connection with this conflict, African-Americans have recently expressed resentment toward Mexican- Americans. The resentment is expressed as follows: Mexican-Americans have been free riders. African-Americans fight for civil rights; Mexican-Americans ride their coat tails and share in the benefits.
This resentment has been significantly linked to the legal construction of Mexican-Americans as white. Recently, some African-American leaders in Dallas have argued that Mexican-Americans should not share in the benefits or gains achieved by African-Americans because Mexican-Americans have been legally classified as white. Thus, the relationship between African-Americans and Mexican-Americans is impacted by the construction of race. The legal designation of Mexican-Americans as white raises a barrier to coalition building between African-Americans and Mexican-Americans.
In order to help build a coalition between African-Americans and Mexican-Americans, it makes sense for Mexican-Americans to reject their legal designation as white. Although white identity has been a traditional source of privilege and protection, Mexican-Americans did not receive the usual benefits of whiteness. Mexican-Americans experienced segregation in schools and neighborhoods. Mexican-Americans have been discriminated against in employment. Moreover, in non-legal discourse, Mexican-Americans have been categorized as irreducibly Other and non-white. For example, one commentator described how Anglo- Americans drew a clear racial distinction between themselves and Mexican- Americans:
Racial Myths about Mexicans appeared as soon as Mexicans began to meet Anglo American settlers in the early nineteenth century. The differences in attitudes, temperament and behavior were supposed to be genetic. It is hard now to imagine the normal Mexican mixture of Spanish and Indian as constituting a distinct ‘race,’ but the Anglo Americans of the Southwest defined it as such.
Given all of this, it does not make sense for Mexican-Americans to retain the legal designation of white. If Mexican-Americans embraced a non-white legal identity, then Mexican-Americans and African-Americans would be able to build a better relationship.
It is pointless for Latinos and African-Americans to divide themselves over the issue of Latino “whiteness.” Indeed, to preserve the current racial hierarchy, mainstream white society often attempts to create divisions among minority groups. Given this, Latinos and African-Americans must work together as a coalition in order to dismantle racial subordination. By rejecting the legal designation of white, Latinos would be taking a step toward building such a coalition.
[d1]. Associate Professor of Law, Southern Methodist University. B.A., Arizona State University; M.A., 1979, The University of Michigan; J.D., 1985, Harvard Law School.
Laura M. Padilla
excerpted Wrom: ZRCLBDXRQBGJSNBOHMKHJYFMYXOEAIJJPHSCRT a Dirty Mexican”: Internalized Oppression, Latinos & Law , 7 Texas Hispanic Journal of Law and Policy 61-113, 65-73 (Fall 2001) (347 Footnotes Omitted)
Internalized racism has been the primary means by which we have been forced to perpetuate and “agree” to our own oppression.
In order to understand the many ways in which internalized oppression and racism affect subordinated communities, it is important to have a general background on these forces. Thus, this part of the article will describe internalized oppression and racism generally and will then describe how internalized oppression and racism are particularly manifested in the Latino community. This will better allow the reader to comprehend why Latinos engage in the specific types of self-destructive behavior described throughout this article.
A. Working Definitions of Internalized Oppression and Racism
When a victim experiences a hurt that is not healed, distress patterns emerge whereby the victim engages in some type of harmful behavior. Internalized oppression has been described as the process by which these patterns reveal themselves.
[T]hese distress patterns, created by oppression and racism from the outside, have been played out in the only two places it has seemed “safe” to do so. First, upon members of our own group–particularly upon those over whom we have some *66 degree of power or control . . . . Second, upon ourselves through all manner of self-invalidation, self-doubt, isolation, fear, feelings of powerlessness and despair . . . .
Thus, internalized oppression commences externally. In other words, dominant players start the chain of oppression through racist and discriminatory behavior. This behavior could range from physical violence prompted by the victim’s race, to race-based exclusion, to derogatory race-based name-calling and stereotyping (such as “we don’t need any more wetbacks–they just take away our jobs”), together with capitalization on the fears created by those stereotypes.
Those at the receiving end of prejudice can experience physical and psychological harm, and over time, they internalize and act on negative perceptions about themselves and other members of their own group. How might internalized oppression appear generally–that is, not in regards to a particular ethnic or racial group?
Patterns of internalized racism cause us adults to find fault, criticize, and invalidate each other. This invariably happens when we come together in a group to address some important problem or undertake some liberation project. What follows is divisiveness and disunity leading to despair and abandonment of the effort.
Patterns of internalized oppression cause us to attack, criticize or have unrealistic expectations of any one of us who has the courage to step forward and take on leadership responsibilities. This leads to a lack of support that is absolutely necessary for effective leadership to emerge and group strength to grow. It also leads directly to the “burn out” phenomenon we have all witnessed in, or experienced as, effective . . . leaders.
Internalized racism affects our behavior in many other ways, yet always with the result that we harm ourselves and sometimes others. The following section will describe how *67 internalized racism manifests itself specifically within the Latino community.
B. Internalized Racism and Latinos
Internalized oppression operates rather uniformly at both the group and individual levels, regardless of ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, through some common behavioral patterns. However, it also manifests itself uniquely depending on the negative stereotypes it causes a particular group to internalize. Latinos’ specific history gives rise to the particularities of our internalized oppression and racism. We “share a unique experience of oppression and survival in the United States. Mexicans and Puerto Ricans, who constitute the largest and oldest Latino/a communities within the official borders of the United States, were attacked, invaded, colonized, annexed, and exploited by the United States.” This oppressive behavior toward Latinos is deep-rooted. Jeanne Guana elaborates:
[A]fter the Mexican American War ended in 1848, people of Mexican origin faced lynchings, land theft and virulent racism. Later, in times of economic depression, people of Mexican origin–citizens and non-citizens alike–were deported en masse . . . . As a result, many Mexican-origin people internalized the racism and learned to despise all things Mexican.
Despising all things native to ourselves causes unhealthy behavior, including self-loathing and participation in the perpetuation of negative stereotypes. Latinos may be conditioned to believe that other Latinos– particularly recent immigrants–are taking jobs away from United States citizens or are unfairly taking advantage of United States social services. Additionally, we may refrain from using Spanish in professional settings because it will betray our heritage, or we may believe that Whiter is better. “From the Latina/o viewpoint, the desirability of whiteness represents the internalization by the colonized of the colonizers’ predilections.” The remainder of this section will provide greater detail on ways that internalized racism affects the Latino community, both at the group and individual levels.
*68 At the group level, internalized oppression and racism involve harmful or destructive conduct by members of a group directed at other members of the same group. “[Internalized racism] has been a major ingredient in the distressful and unworkable relationships which we so often have with each other. It has proved to be the fatal stumbling block of every promising and potentially powerful . . .liberation effort that has failed in the past.” Internalized racism thus thwarts Latinos’ empowerment efforts. For example, Latino groups often wither when leadership issues revolve around how “ethnic” one is. To wit, at California Western School of Law, one year a majority of the La Raza law students refused to elect a blond student to a board position because she was not perceived to be “Mexican” enough, even though she was born in Mexico, spoke better Spanish than most of her classmates, and was a committed activist. The experience was devastating. Internalized oppression and politics of race impeded her advancement and prevented her from performing work that would have benefited the Latino community. I have seen the same politics of race emerge among La Raza Lawyers of San Diego–members’ credibility was frequently based on whether they were perceived as either “too dark” or “too light,” depending on the issue.
Group-level internalized racism also reveals itself through the way Latinos view other Latinos. For instance, many people in the Latino community believe the tired propaganda that Latino immigrants are a drain on social services. As far back as 1913, “the Commissioner of Immigration . . . publicly announced his fear that Mexicans might become public charges, since according to these authorities, Mexicans came to the United States only to receive public relief.” Today, many Americans harbor that same belief about recent immigrants, and too many Latinos believe it. If those who believe this propaganda were to look beyond the myths to the facts, they would learn that many immigrants contribute more to our society than they receive. One expert “estimates that immigration brings economic benefits to the United States in the range of $6 to $20 billion annually–small, but still a net positive gain.” Moreover, “there is overwhelming evidence that undocumented immigrants pay more in taxes than they receive in public benefits.” When researching campaigns to limit immigration, Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic found that even conservative think tanks concluded that “immigration is a net benefit, not a drawback to the *69 regions in which immigrants settle.” Their research uncovered conservative spokespersons who emphasized that “legal immigrants are more likely than natives to participate in the labor force. . .and that immigrants earn roughly $700 more a year per capita than natives, with those who entered the United States before 1980 earning nearly $4,000 more.” Moreover, many immigrants, particularly Latinos, exhibit entrepreneurial spirit, often starting their own businesses. “According to the Greenlining Institute in San Francisco, most of the new small business development in California that helped to move the state’s economy forward was fueled by Latino entrepreneurs.” Thus, rather than taking more than their share of public benefits, in many cases Latinos disproportionately contribute to the economic health of the United States.
Internalized racism in the Latino community also reveals itself at the individual level. For example, nearly half of all Hispanics consider themselves White. More telling, there is a great deal of self- loathing tied to the darkness of one’s skin. One Mexican American, who asserted that he “would have been only too happy to look as Mexican as my light-skinned older brother,” admitted that he felt “shame and sexual inferiority . . . because of my dark complexion.” He continued describing himself: “With disgust . . . I would come face to face with myself in mirrors. With disappointment I located myself in class photographs–my dark face undefined by the camera which had clearly described the white faces of classmates. Or I’d see my dark wrist against my long-sleeved white shirt.”
At a more personal level, I have heard friends and family attempt to one-up each other about how “güero” their children or grandchildren are. I remember my mother’s best friend bragging about how güera her first granddaughter was as she pulled out a photograph of a hirsute, dark baby. Rather than ask each other why her friend felt the need to assert her granddaughter’s “güera-ness,” my mother and I instead later compared the granddaughter’s “güera-ness” to the “güera/o-ness” of our own family members. We succumbed to the conditioning that Whiter is *70 better without even realizing it. We also use a grading process brought about by this conditioning to rank the acceptability of boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses, and partners. Lighter is preferred; darker is grudgingly accepted so long as that person is Latino. To go any darker may put one at the risk of family alienation. As one Latino expressed it:
The unpleasant truth is that whether or not Mexican-Americans consider inter-racial relationships to be acceptable has everything to do with the specific race involved. The clearest analogy: a ladder. The social ladder, if you will. At the top of the ladder is the color white, owing to generational assumptions that the fair-skinned shall inherit the earth. At the bottom is the color black, the color of subjugation. Inferiority. In the middle, nesting precariously between the extremes, is the color brown.
We have been conditioned at many levels and for many centuries to believe that lighter skin is more desirable. Although some may be puzzled as to why Latinos would perpetuate that belief, it is readily explained.
It is hardly surprising that minorities have often sought to “pass” as White–i.e., present themselves as White persons. They did so because they thought that becoming White insured greater economic, political, and social security. Becoming White, they thought, meant gaining access to a whole set of public and private privileges and was a way to avoid being the object of others’ domination. Whiteness, therefore, constituted a privileged identity.
Survival instincts coupled with an unquestioned acceptance of liberal ideology promoting pursuit of individual well-being pushes us to claim a White identity. Yet a critical analysis of that pursuit reveals some flaws in the goal. Most fundamentally, that goal asks us to forfeit our cultural and ethnic identity. Another flaw is that it assumes that even if one wanted to “pass” for purposes of obtaining White privilege, the privilege would follow. As explained elsewhere in this article, even if Latinos self-identify as White, they cannot control how others see them. So long as they are viewed as Latino, they will not obtain the White privilege that they crave. Here lies the greatest risk of all, as one could lose one’s ethnic and familial identity without ever achieving one’s desired identity, thus leaving an untethered soul who fits in nowhere.
Even if one does not attempt to “pass,” one can consciously or subconsciously attempt to acquire White privilege through the choice of a spouse. Critical race theorists have left the *71 sensitive topic of spousal selection in interracial relationships largely unexplored, even though this study would shed light on the complex relationship between subordination and White privilege. Although I will not analyze this topic at length here, at some risk, I will share some of my own experiences. I married an Anglo and in reflecting on why I married my husband, I realize that the reasons are many, complex, and positive, and that I never consciously chose not to marry a Latino. However, it is not as clear to me whether I subconsciously chose not to marry a Latino. During law school, I spent countless hours with my Latino classmates and one year I co-chaired the Stanford Latino Law Students’ Association (“SLLSA”), but I did not date my Latino classmates. One reason was that there were not many Latinos at the law school and many of the few had girlfriends. Another reason that I reveal with reluctance is that I saw too many marriages in my family break up because of the man’s infidelity. Of course many non-Latino men are unfaithful, and I never believed that all Latino males were unfaithful, but my family history made me nervous. That nervousness was later compounded when I became active with La Raza Lawyers of San Diego. At parties and out of town conferences, I noticed that a significant number of men suddenly lost their wedding rings and seemed to spend too much time with women who were not their wives. So I remind myself that this behavior is characteristic of many men, not just Latinos. When I experience this unease, am I unconsciously succumbing to internalized racism by believing negative stereotypes about Latino men? My need to ask this question reveals one of the dangers of internalized oppression–we frequently do not even realize when or how we are prejudiced against ourselves.
Other manifestations of internalized racism include behavior resulting from envidia, or jealousy. Latinos, for instance, frequently inwardly, and sometimes outwardly, question the qualifications of other successful Latinos. It is heartening that this is not uniform–many Latinos provide mutual support networks by, for example, intentionally and systematically referring business to each other. Nonetheless, we too frequently neglect to provide support for each other and even worse, we actually conspire against each other. This tendency is illustrated by a popular Mexican folk story:
*72 A man stumbles upon a fisherman who is gathering crabs and placing them in a bucket with no lid. When the passerby asks the fisherman whether he is concerned that the crabs might climb out of the bucket and crawl away, the fisherman replies that there is no need to worry. “You see,” he says, “these are Mexican crabs. Whenever one of them tries to move up, the others pull him down . . . .”
The envidia phenomenon sabotages Latino unity and requires our attention. We need to challenge negative stereotypes about Latinos, refuse to perpetuate negative stereotypes about other Latinos, recognize sabotaging behavior among ourselves, and convert that behavior and the environment that promotes it into a supportive environment.
Internalized racism is also displayed when Latinos experience self-doubt upon receiving either admission into a top university or a prestigious job offer. This “impostor” dilemma haunts many of us. How did I get here? Do I truly belong? The answers, respectively, are through hard work and perhaps some serendipity, and yes. However, because of internalized racism, we doubt our qualifications and hard-earned credentials and succumb to the often not-very-delicate suggestions that we do not belong.
We also denigrate ourselves through both our treatment of the Spanish language and our support of the English-only movement. By the former, I mean that Latinos can cavalierly use Spanish when convenient–for example, to temporarily bond with other Latinos, while also being ashamed by it when it reveals too much of our heritage. Through support of the English-only movement, we send the message that we should be ashamed of our inherited language. When we support this movement, we admit Latino inferiority and accept the notion that Latinos are “dangerous because of their language. It perceives the Spanish language as a threatening foreign *73 influence that must be eradicated to preserve cultural purity.” Accordingly, internalized racism causes Latinos to distance themselves from the Spanish language. This distancing increases as income rises and assimilation becomes more complete. As one study indicates, “[A]lmost 40 percent of Latino respondents prefer English as their dominant language, and 92 percent prefer either monolingual English or bilingual English and Spanish . . . . Over time, and as Latino socioeconomic status improves, Latino language preferences, while bilingual, move closer to an English predominance for . . . [survey] respondents.” Latinos who intentionally distance themselves from Spanish accept “[t]he assimilationist ideal [that] would have Latinos learn English and completely lose their Spanish-speaking ability.” Rather than being a source of embarrassment, as one academic suggested, our language should be a source of cultural pride; “Latino/as must learn to celebrate their language if they are to find strength in their common identity.”
This part outlined just a sampling of the many negative stereotypes about Latinos. When we accept these stereotypes about ourselves and other Latinos, we acceptthe “colonized mentality” and engage in actions consistent with internalized racism. These actions are harmful in and of themselves, and the consequences can be even more severe when the stakes are higher–for example, when legislation is proposed that directly harms the Latino community. . . .
Can Racism Kill You?
by Tom Head, About.com Guide to Civil Liberties
Newsweek health writer Dean Ornish thinks so–and the data is on his side:
In the past decade more than 100 studies have been published documenting the harmful effects of racial discrimination on a variety of health measures in African-American men and women.
For example, a recent study that followed nearly 60,000 African-American women for six years found that women who reported on-the-job racial discrimination had a 32 percent higher risk of breast cancer than others who did not. Women who said they faced racial discrimination on the job, in housing and from the police were 48 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than those who reported no incidents of major discrimination.
Another study of African-American women found that those who reported chronic emotional stress due to their experience of racism had more severely blocked carotid arteries (which supply blood to the brain) than those who did not. In yet another study perceived racism was associated with a significantly increased risk of uterine fibroids in black women, and this was unrelated to differences in health care utilization.
And then there are the effects of racially-correlated inequalities in health care access–the topic of Unnatural Causes, a seven-part, 14-hour documentary currently airing on PBS. Low-income black men have a median life expectancy of 67–a decade below the national average.
So what can be done about this? Ornish emphasizes the need to dismantle active racism, and to generally treat each other in a kinder way in our day-to-day lives. This is good advice, I believe, and should be taken to heart–but it doesn’t address the core problem of racism, because white folks who make intentionally life harder for people of color are generally not the same white folks who ask themselves what they can do to make life easier for people of color. The EEOC has made some progress in fighting overt employment discrimination, but there’s a limit to what can be accomplished by civil rights laws–particularly when the most significant problems impacting the health of people of color have more to do with institutional racism than personal racism.
So a systematic, institutional solution is needed. And as Brian Smedley points out, we’re not talking about a revolution here–even mainstream, bipartisan policy proposals can have a dramatic impact on racism-related health disparities:
If we believe – as most Americans do – that the United States should be a place where everyone has a fair chance to achieve their full potential, then we can focus on achievable policy solutions. These include things like providing access to high-quality early child education programs for all children, reforming school financing to equalize the quality of education in K through 12th grade, and reducing financial barriers to college. We should also support living wage policies, so that no one who works full-time is forced to live in poverty, and expand the Earned Income Tax Credit program. We should provide job training so that more people can participate in high-growth jobs, such as in the technology industry. We should invest in affordable housing and fix the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. We should support housing mobility programs, so that people in low-opportunity communities can move to better neighborhoods, and invest in jobs and schools in low-opportunity communities so that they become attractive places to live and work.
And if we’re willing to go a step further, universal health care must be a priority. Studies have consistently shown that about half of all uninsured Americans are black or Latino, when black and Latino Americans barely make up one quarter of the U.S. population.
There are ways to address the overall impact of racism on health and life expectancy, but most of them are inconvenient for Americans who already enjoy high standards of health care. These Americans need to be made more aware of the severity of the problem. A low-income black or Latino man who dies in 2008 due to racially-correlated health care disparities may not be as obvious a victim as a black or Latino man lynched in an earlier era, but he’s just as dead.
The White Lens IV [The White Idea]
Categorized under Cultura , El Malestar Pálido , La Lente Blanca | Tags: Adoption, My Life, racism, The White Lens, White Supremacy
YOU CANNOT BE HALF-WHITE because “White” is an idea. It is not a lineage. It is the idea of being both untouched by the Brown™—unmixed with the dark beast of Other—as well as guided by notions of White Supremacy. The “One-Drop” rule kept White slaveowners from having to be responsible for the babies they planted in the wombs of their Black slaves because mixed with “Black blood” the “White” idea is eradicated. Of course you can have that idea safely envelope you (you can become an honorary White®) if you are multiracial, say part-Mexican and part not, or part-Korean and part not, or part African-descended and part not—basically, if you can fool the eye enough to allow you consideration. However, that consideration is not complete until you cease any scary activity or identification with the Brown™ part of your lineage. If you can shed the accent, learn the Queen’s English as preferred, skip the ponchos and “vatos” and menudo, think of Mexican immigrants as Illegal Alienz, consider Racism in the past, or best yet—crusade against your own type of people—you are well on your way.
Barack Obama is a good example of someone who may be eligible for honorary Whiteness. That’s why Biden saw and heard him and wanted to invite him into his kitchen. That’s why (in my opinion) some of the Black community are musing on keeping him out. They don’t trust an honorary White®. After all, we all know what they are capable of. They are capable of being Colorblind. Which means seeing no allegiance but to White Mainstream America. No roots, no special reparation, no otherly consideration.
Far too capable. Michelle Malkin, the Queen of Colorblind, has successfully become White®, at least temporarily. At least until she pulls her own type of Gonzales, and is reminded that her Whiteness was only an honorary award, one that not even marrying a White man, becoming a Brown-hater, and getting cozy in Bethesda, MD can make permanent.
I’ve lived in Bethesda, MD. I remember it well. It is “White Suburbia.” I was eight years old. It was where I met a large part of resistance to my name, which is Spanish and unpronouncable to the English-only tongue except in a tacky, simplified, Anglo-tinted version now made famous by a movie star who went by “Leaf” for most of his life. Bethesda was where I was humiliated all the time in class as even the TEACHERS who were supposed to know so much stumbled like fools trying to get the non-English “J” and the alien-inflected “Q” over their tongue during roll call. Bethesda is where I was asked by the judge if I wanted the New White Daddy to adopt me; if I would give my eight-year-old permission. I already hated the man, the New Daddy who had married my mother and changed everything in my life. And yet, I didn’t balk in those judge’s chambers to say “yes.” But did I know what I was agreeing to? Hell no. I just knew I was in a Special, Grave, Important place and someone was asking me my permission and it was someone I had no right to give a hard time to. And I was just befuddled by the whole process.
So I said ‘Yes’ and with the sweep of a pen, the placing of a shiny, gold, sticker onto a sheaf of papers and the pressure of a seal, the surname I was given at birth—the one I’d had for the first eight years of my life and that tied me to my physical appearance, my nanita, my papi, his papá, and all my Mexican lineage—was stamped out. It was neutralized, made Irish. Made short, and common, and easily (oh so easily) pronounceable, and something everyone could appreciate. The State reached back into all my documents and changed them. My caretakers, the government of Maryland, USA, and the spirit of George Orwell worked together to create the impression that I had always had the New Name; that I had always had the White Father, that my real father and my real last name had never existed. To this day, my legal birth certificate has the wrong man listed as my father. It’s a lie. And I lost the original. There was (and is) no place and no document I could go to to prove my memories were real. Except one. There was one sheaf of papers only that showed the change. The adoption papers, themselves. Otherwise, I had been given a new name, a new father, a new identity, and the rare chance to be White®. As long as I stayed out of the sun, I was pretty good at honoring that idea. The White Idea.
Especially once I changed my first name to “Jack,” shortly after that. Someone had told me that “Jack” was the English equivalent of my real (Spanish) name. And honestly, that was who I wanted to be: the White version of me. The one with no messy Mexican past. The one with a name everyone could pronounce. The one who wasn’t asked about his “Nationality.” The one who was not connected to the murk of Mexico’s dark, unspoken stigma. Nanita, my Papi, tortillas, chiles, olive oil, Lady Guadalupe, hot, desert winds, adobe, the sound of Spanish…this was all so far away. Probably a dream. So I decided to become White®.
And began to lose my mind, very slowly. Not all at once, and never completely. Not in a dangerous or dramatic way. Not in a way any more mad than most the people I meet in life. In a creeping, insidious way, a way that blinds you to much of yourself, and thus the Truth. Any truth. Because when your feelings and image of yourself are conflicted in such a way, how can you be at peace with much else? The image of everything that I had grew jittery and began to slip to the side over the long stretch of days, as if a filmstrip being sped through the gears of the projector was slipping. The flicker, here, of a scene cut short and a bad edit slashing a thin line across the actor’s eyeline. A spreading dark dot on the lens, a strip of shadow folds under at the edge of the screen, a smear of unexpected emulsion dances, a shadow blooms like a flower.
Once in a while, you bump into the shell of the Idea, and it is unsettling. I grew to fear the random people—usually kids at new schools—who would ask me if I were Puerto Rican. Or the random brown women who would speak to me in Spanish without knowing I had given up my Mexicanness. Didn’t they know I was White®, then? Don’t remind me of those things, those sounds. What did they see? How did they know that tongue was in my past life? What is peeking out of my eyes, my face? I didn’t understand their ability to see into me in this way.
I grew to hate fluorescent lights. Yes, because they drain your soul of feeling. But also because (what I think of as) the olive-like base of my skin shows up there egregiously, more than the ole Fluorescent Light Green that settles onto all skin under those lights (There is an unnatural/non-analagous spike of green in the visible light spectrum of non-adjusted fluorescent lights, as studying cinematography taught me). Or the Winters, I hated them too. Not just for the lack of light and the sadness that settles under the hundredth layer of snow or for the cold that comes along with all the whiteness, but also because the color drains from my skin in those long, grayed out months, although it never leaves completely. My skin, to me, looked sickly during these times. I did not know it was my eye, waiting for a pink shade that never quite rose to the top. And if you are expecting to see pink, what would my skin look like?
My eyes. They became so confused. It’s getting better. But there were, during these days of Whiteness®, troubling moments. What was showing through? My forehead didn’t look right, something was wrong with the area between my eyes and my ear or maybe it was my nose or my lips….maybe….the skin, the sheen of the skin…the courseness of the hair, it was ugly, “like a dog” I said, shaving my head.
But I didn’t even let myself think in honest terms anymore. I sublimated the White Supremacist notions that my New Legal Father constantly oozed into other shapes of less-obvious thought. After ten years of his influence (as well as mainstream “universal” (White®) culture), instead of thinking facial hair brings out the Mexican in me (even tho many have said so verbatim) I just thought facial hair looks ugly on me. Because in that strain of White® thought, Mexican=Ugly. And so I avoided facial hair (especially a mustache) at all costs. Instead of thinking taking Spanish in High School will tie me more to my Mexicanness I just thought that French would be more “interesting.” (Also interesting that they were conquerors, for a while, of Mexico). Instead of thinking The sun makes me so dark I stand out as not-White™, I thought to myself as I reached into my late 20s The sun will age my skin, I should start avoiding it. Instead of thinking the darkness of my Brown eyes point toward the land of Quetzelcoatl and the nopales and steep mountains and sand I thought Brown eyes are dull, they look all one-color dark and it’s not pretty…it sure would be nice to mess with those new, snazzy, green and blue contact lenses.
And by the way: how do I know that those were not real thoughts? For example, how do I know that my thoughts about the sun weren’t valid? I really felt that way, right? It’s true science, right? Prove it’s wrong, that I wasn’t realllllllly concerned about aging, but about my White Appearance. Because I would have argued you on any of these things. Although I now know they were sublimated thought. And how do I know? Because nowadays—and my face is ten years older, even, I don’t care if the sun ages me. I see nothing scary about having lots of lines in my face when I smile, or concentrate, or get even older. Because I have a mustache now, and I enjoy it. I like that it echoes my father’s appearance, and mi abuelo’s, too. Because nowadays you couldn’t catch me wearing fake color in my eyes. I love brown eyes. And especially my brown eyes. Get it? I love my eyes. As they are. Myself. As I am.
And these all changed and became apparent for their true shapes when I turned to look at what I had been avoiding for so long. That’s how I know.
This dynamic of sublimated/disguised thought is exactly why “intention” is irrelevant when we talk about the White Lens and about Racism and about all these issues. Because in this culture we become brainwashed unless we have painful teachers (our own personally-based realizations and experiences with media and other humans) to remind us that the programming does not include us. And because if you are White® ’round here, you would not bump into that shell, that edge, that reason to remember that you have been inculcated with a paradigm of thought that necessitates the standards of White Supremacy.
And when your brain has been programmed, how relevant is what you “intend”? Hell, you don’t even know what you really intend in those cases, half the time.
The reason I use many images of myself in this blog is not just because I’m a show-off performer-singer-actor lookitme type person. It is because the journey I make here is so very much about identity. So much about “race” and how this figures into my self image.
Some have said to me, so dismissively “Oh you think too much about this/worry too much about this/crow too much about that/make too much of this.” Aside from being the most amazingly insensitive and stupid things to say, they are also precisely wrong, and such thoughts are, in fact, tied to the same roots that feed from the perpetuation of White Supremacist thought. They are invested in my not awakening.
Not thinking about this for so long led to nothing healthy. It led to confusion and sublimation and anger and self-loathing and projection, and—O, a host of things. A host of ideas and non-ideas and knee-jerk movements and wrong turns that I no longer want to repeat. I am thinking about this just as much as I need to. And when I am done, I will move on. Lately, I’ve even begun to have passages of time where all of THIS just fades and I feel normal. Okay in my skin, not thinking constantly about WHO I AM or WHOM I DON’T BELONG TO or WHAT I AM or IF I LOOK WHITE OR MEXICAN and all the rest of that. This is something else! And it feels good to not be so consumed with all of it. And that’s where I want to be. But I won’t get there by not talking, not thinking, not writing. I will get there by finally looking into myself and at all those things I had run from. I am getting there by doing just what I am doing. But it is true that while I do it, I kick up some feelings. And not just in myself.
In the Summer time (even Spring) my skin reacts to sun very quickly. I can get very dark. Last summer I got so dark an Indian (Native American) friend was frustrated by it. “Damn. What were you…outside forever? You’re darker than me, and I’m Indian!” She was jealous. But in a friendly, funny way. This is a new reason for me to love Spring and Summer. I can get as dark as I want. And it erases the ambiguity. In fact, it even scares people sometimes and I really get that full “brown man” experience. That is not the part I like. I actually was completely surprised when I began meeting that reaction in earnest. I think, sometimes, that I probably have a pretty interesting experience of this because I can move back and forth a bit from not-so-brown to damn-brown. Although not as much as I used to think. Because just because you are thinking you are White®, you forget that others can see your Brownness if they don’t choose not to. Very often. That is why I would get spoken to in Spanish and similar experiences. This is what begins to make for so much confusion, this gap that can grow between how others see you and how you see yourself. Because the truth is, I tried to unsee all those startling and unsettling elements that would reflect from mirrors. It wasn’t that I just denied them physically (names, contacts, hair) but that along with this movement, I was beginning to deny these elements psychologically. To the point that I would look in the mirror and I just couldn’t even tell what my skin looked like anymore. A slight change of angle would shift it back and forth.
But as I said, in the summer, the brown settles obviously into my skin and ties my eyes, and hair together in one soothing, complete feeling of brownness. And I like that.
When I lived in Postcard Town, NY (not a real name, a ritzy very White neighborhood I speak of sometimes where I began to really think on a lot of these things) it was that first Summer that everything changed, reactions becoming odd. It was that Summer that, when my mother came to visit she was so impressed by how dark I looked she called her friend who was expecting me at the DMV for a license renewal to warn them that it was still me holding the ID card. I was surprised she did that. But perhaps that is how startlingly dark I can get. I like the brown. In the Winter, I feel yellowish.
A lot of the problem, when you are looking at yourself as White®—when you are of a pigmented “race”—is that your measures are standards that default to White As Beautiful. So suddenly, instead of seeing yourself showing a skin tone that can be traced mentally back to Indians and sunny, southern, lands; you see it and how far it varies from Pink and say, instead, that it looks “sallow” or “yellow” or “sickly” or “greenish.” But does it? Or are you using the wrong measuring stick? When White Supremacy has been laid into your brain, you don’t look at being relatively small as a sign that you are connected not to big caucasoid frames, but rather to smaller, lithe, Indian frames. You think (and are told) that you are defective. Because you are defective in comparison to a false standard. To a standard you ought not to be using.
If everyone around you had fingers that were nine inches long and never told you that having your-length fingers was a sign that you descended from the Human tribe, you would grow to see your fingers as lacking, dinky, inferior, ineffective, ugly, deformed. But surprise, surprise. One day you see pictures of Human Beings. You are overjoyed. You feel amazing kinship and self-acceptance. You had been using the wrong standard all along. Your mind has been infested with a bad idea.
Because White is an idea. And for me, it is not the right idea.
I cannot be “Half-White,” because I cannot have half a brain of White Supremacist thought. I cannot be “Half-White,” because I don’t want mirrors to buckle and flip in front of my eyes anymore. I cannot be “Half-White” because I cannot exist as a division defined. I cannot be “Half-White,” because the idea of White is one of not being touched, tainted, or aligned with the Brown™. And I am descended of and a member of the Brown™. And I am damn proud of it. And I am proud throughout all of myself and my heart and my body. Not just half.
addendum: I use “White Supremacy” a bit flexibly here, in different ways, not always as we mean it such as in “White Supremacist groups” and the like. Bear with me while I feel out a fitting lexicon for this new (to myself) body of thought.