Very powerful post from Nick Valencia, a producer at CNN about his first-hand experience with anti-Latino racism recently in Atlanta. Nick is a third generation Mexican-American, who was recently told to “Go home” by a woman in Atlanta:
“Go home!” she yelled at me. “Why don’t you go back home to Mexico before you ruin this country like you ruined your own!”
I was standing in a crowd at the Music Midtown festival in Atlanta, where I live. A few minutes earlier I’d met a group of five people who’d been standing in front of me — here from Mexico City — and I had begun speaking Spanish with them.
Valencia’s entire post is worth a read. Here’s an excerpt that gets to the core of this experience:
As a third-generation Mexican-American growing up in Los Angeles, I had never encountered such overt racism. In fact, because my family was long since assimilated, among my Latino friends I was always considered the “pocho” or “white boy” of the group. (As I write this, a part of me knows somewhere in L.A., a friend of mine will be proud to know someone actually considered me Mexican enough to yell “go home” at me.)
My Mexican friends remind me that I am American first, Mexican second and that my English is better than my Spanish.
“Yes,” I tell them. “But I can never walk into a room and be white.”
Evidently, to some the brown color of my skin means I’m not even American. My friends and family tell me what I experienced that night is a microcosm of what is happening to Latinos across the country. You don’t have to look hard to find it. In news stories, in political discourse, on talk radio, in everyday conversation it seems it has become OK to treat Latinos in a negative and antagonistic way — whether they are new immigrants or longtime Americans. The anti-immigration legislation sweeping across the United States has made this plain. People in my Latino networks say they’ve noticed the change. And now I understand what they mean.