So Colorblind, It’s Now All Black and White

My generation was one of the first to really have the concept of equality pounded into our heads in high school. Even though it’s been almost a century and a half since Lincoln abolished slavery, the weeding out of racism has been a very gradual process.

By the time my sophomore year arrived in 1995, the idea that any form of discrimination was unacceptable, whether on the basis of race, religion, sexual preference, or disability, was being drilled into students with a very intentional effort. I actually took a class during my junior year called Diversity. And the way my teachers and counselors all approached the issue of racism, you would think that it was a relic, buried far back in our past and now scorned by everyone.

But I would argue that racism is still alive and well in the United States, and the only real difference is that we’ve turned our attention away from black people and focused it on brown ones instead.

It’s amazing to me to see the true colors that Monday’s nationwide immigration reform demonstrations have brought to light in the days that followed. I’m not arguing for or against immigration reform; I’m commenting on the racist statements that have been made by many Americans as a result of the issue becoming a hot media topic. And I’m embarrassed by what an ignorant, racist people we Americans still are.

Two weeks ago, I stood in line at McDonald’s on the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver. A black customer in front of me informed the cashier that he was short one hash brown. “Esscuse me?” asked the cashier, whose accent told me that English is not her original language. “I AM SHORT ONE HASH BROWN,” he shouted back. She silently added the hash brown to his bag. As he turned, he muttered under his breath loud enough for both me and her to hear, “Go back to f—–g Mexico.”

Before I continue, let me acknowledge that I realize how my soapboxing on this issue is going to sound coming from a guy with the last name Sanchez. And true enough, my family ancestry on my dad’s side is Spanish and Mexican. You probably wouldn’t know it to look at me, as I resemble my white mom’s family with my lighter skin color, lighter brown hair, and green eyes. But I am of Hispanic descent.

However, as a third-generation Coloradoan, I’m also probably more of a native to the area in which I live than the average person I run into on Colorado streets, and I have just as much claim to all the rights and privileges associated with being American as you do, so I’ll continue.

I logged on this morning to read some comments that people were leaving regarding a recent 9News feature covering the topic of immigration reform. I was shocked by some of the hateful statements I read there.

There definitely needs to be a wall put up. It makes me sick to see them drive around in fancy vehicles (tinted windows, designs on them, expensive wheels) while alot of us can’t afford something like that.

So let me get this straight. You’re assuming that any person driving a pimped out low-rider must have hopped the border and been promptly handed a check by Uncle Sam so he could buy a new truck? What an ignorant, racist thing to say.

Too bad they can’t wait until they are here legally to have kids. But someone waves $$$ in front of them and every 9 months there’s another. Some can’t even control the one they have now in the grocery store.

Yes, that’s it. Those damn Mexicans do nothing but sit around and multiply like rabbits because they’re stupid people with nothing better to do than have unprotected sex all day long. Are you kidding me? Who writes this crap? Oh, and I also suppose we’ve never seen white children misbehaving in public, either.

I am sick to my stomach over the way we Americans now regard any person who is not white or black. We’re over the days when black people were second-class citizens (and I’m thankful for that) but now, we’ve turned our racist efforts towards anyone with brown skin. Anyone from South America, Mexico, Puerto Rico is now simply a “Mexican” and anyone from the Middle East, whether that’s Persia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, or Iraq is simply an “Arab.” And we assume that if they’re brown, they’re here illegally, taking away jobs from the good, white people of America.

I can’t handle it any more. Sure, I’m guilty of perpetuating racist jokes. I’m guilty of thinking negatively on occasion towards someone because of their ethnicity. I’m no saint, and I don’t pretend to be. But eventually, you reach breaking point, and I think I’m at mine. I can’t stand the bigotry and arrogance that we feel over being Americans. I can’t tolerate this asinine superiority complex we seem to feel due to the simple fact that we were born here.

And you know what? I no longer even agree with the idea that all the immigrants should be forced to learn English so they can act and behave like good, white people.

“But this is OUR country,” shout the opposers. “If they want to come here, they have to play by OUR rules.”

You know where I’ve heard that before? On the elementary school playground. “This is OUR playground,” said the sixth graders, “and you little kids will do whatever WE say.” Of course, they had no claim to the playground. It wasn’t theirs. The only basis for their claims was that they had been their longer and they were stronger. They weren’t superior. They were just bullies.

And so are we.

If there’s any people group that should be spitting mad over our hypocrisy, it’s the Indians. (And I’m calling them Indians because the ones I know call themselves Indians, not Native Americans.) Did we come over here and learn their languages? Follow their rules? Adopt their customs? No. We strong-armed them and beat them into submission. Now we’ve packed them up and shipped them off into our little, pre-approved corners of America, and we pretend like our abuse of their people isn’t part of our history, either.

We are an arrogant, proud nation. And we are long overdue for an ass-kicking.

2 Comments so far

  1. nela (unregistered) on April 13th, 2006 @ 10:34 pm

    Yes the spectre of being overwhelmed has always caused a reaction of fear in the white majority. The stereotypes and the reality are so distant. Latinos are hard working, family oriented and as has been shown in the last month with a capacity to organize themselves that significantly will alter how white america sees them. Is that scary for them? As Eugene Robinson commented on the Washington Post a few days ago “yes. whites will become a minority eventually, so join the club”

  2. Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little (unregistered) on April 25th, 2006 @ 8:38 pm

    Thanks for the rant. I’m right there with you. Some of “them” have been in Colorado longer than I have (for all that I may have been in the country longer) and have probably contributed more to the state than I have. Sometimes I wish that the poem on the Statue of Liberty got drummed into our heads with even half so much regularity as the Star Spangled Banner and the Pledge…

    ..which itself was altered first as an anti-immigrant sentiment: it used to just be “to my flag,” but some people didn’t like how that wording left a Pledger free to imagine the flag of their original country, so they added “to THE flag OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.” This predates the “under God” controversy, in fact.

    You may want to go back and edit your post so that the bits that you’re quoting look like quotes; I had to reread them to realize they weren’t your words. Do we get BLOCKQUOTE privileges on MT?

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