Category Archives: racism
I just finished reading Race and Reality: What Everyone Should Know About Our Biological Diversity by Guy P. Harrison.
This was definitely not light, relaxing reading but I’m happy that I pushed through and read it.
“Drawing on a wide variety of evidence – the hard data from fossils and DNA, interviews with the victims of racism, and personal experiences – Harrison dismantles the ‘race’ concept, bolt by bolt. Exposing race as a social illusion and political tool – rather than a biological reality – Harrison forces the reader to consider how they think about ‘other folk.’ Anthropologists have no use for the race concept, and neither should educated citizens.” -Cameron M. Smith, PhD, Department of Anthropology, Portland State University
Even if you already consider yourself educated and enlightened, reading this book will open your eyes in new ways. You won’t be able to look at people, race or society the same ever again. (Remember, we’re talking about race here – not culture. Very different. The craziness I observe in my own household on a daily basis is proof enough to me that cultural differences exist!)
The author argues that we all came out of Africa and we are one human race – that any categories based on hair type, skin color, facial features, etc – are simply man-made… By the time I finished reading this book I felt simultaneously freed…and trapped. I see myself as raceless, but this just isn’t practical in the society we live in.
Imagine renewing my driver’s license at the DMV. I fill out the form, I come to the race boxes – decide to leave them blank because they seem silly and irrelevant. I turn in my form.
“Ma’am, you didn’t check a box for race.”
“I know. I don’t want to. I don’t believe in races.”
“Yes ma’am, that’s real cute, but you have to choose one. I can’t process an incomplete form…”
I sigh, take my pen in hand, and check off a race.
“Hmm… I suppose this one is most accurate…”
I hand the form back to the DMV clerk who looks it over. Her satisfied smile at my compliance soon turns to a frown.
So, I don’t think race will be disappearing any time soon – and maybe it would be irresponsible of me to pretend our world doesn’t see these man-made boxes, regardless of what I personally feel. I have two sons who are struggling with their identity, and answering their questions with a cheerful, “Race doesn’t exist”, is not going to help them sort things out.
Just yesterday a classmate approached my older son and said, “Are you Mexican?” … My son, (having picked up on his father’s annoyance at constantly being incorrectly labeled Mexican instead of Latino or Salvadoran), replied with a simple, curt, “No.”
I told him that he should have used the opportunity to educate his classmate, but I wonder if that was fair of me. As a “white” girl amongst other “white” kids, I never had to explain myself. It must get annoying having to patiently tell people “what you are”. It must make one feel very “other”… and that’s never a good feeling, no matter how old you are – but especially in middle school.
The book, Race and Reality, re-printed a “Bill of Rights for People of Mixed Heritage” which I think is empowering, not just for people who are traditionally considered “multi-racial” by today’s society – but for all of us. In the end, there is no pure race. We are all mixed and we are all human.
Bill of Rights for People of Mixed Heritage:
I HAVE THE RIGHT…
Not to justify my existence in this world.
Not to keep the races separate within me.
Not to justify my ethnic legitimacy.
Not to be responsible for people’s discomfort with my physical or ethnic ambiguity.
I HAVE THE RIGHT…
To identify myself differently than strangers expect me to identify.
To identify myself differently than how my parents identify me.
To identify myself differently than my brothers and sisters.
To identify myself differently in different situations.
I HAVE THE RIGHT…
To create a vocabulary to communicate about being multiracial or multi-ethnic.
To change my identity over my lifetime -and more than once.
To have loyalties and identification with more than one group of people.
To freely choose whom I befriend and love.
American flags are out in full force this weekend – And thanks to Hurricane Earl passing off the coast, the red, white and blue, snapped proudly in the wind.
While I was taking photos, I noticed the juxtaposition of this flag and a sign that made me smile.
Okay, maybe I’m easily amused, but the way “NACHOS” is written up there, as if there is nothing more American than that, it made me happy.
Actually, if you’re interested to know, nachos have a good story behind them.
From Wikipedia: Nachos originated in the city of Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico, just over the border from Eagle Pass, Texas, at a restaurant called the Victory Club, owned by Rodolfo De Los Santos. One day in 1943, the wives of ten to twelve U.S. soldiers stationed at Fort Duncan in nearby Eagle Pass were in Piedras Negras on a shopping trip, and arrived at the restaurant after it had closed for the day. The maître d’, Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya, invented a new snack for them with what little he had available in the kitchen: tortillas and cheese. Anaya cut the tortillas into triangles, added longhorn cheddar cheese, quickly heated them, and added sliced jalapeño peppers. He served the dish, calling it Nacho’s especiales – meaning something like “Nacho’s special dish” in Spanish.
Anaya went on to work at the Moderno Restaurant in Piedras Negras, which still uses the original recipe. He also opened his own restaurant, “Nacho’s Restaurant”, in Piedras Negras. Anaya’s original recipe was printed in the 1954 St. Anne’s Cookbook.
The popularity of the dish swiftly spread throughout Texas. The first known appearance of the word “nachos” in English dates to 1949, from the book A Taste of Texas. Waitress Carmen Rocha is credited with introducing the dish to Los Angeles at El Cholo Mexican restaurant in 1959.
So there you have it. Nachos may not have been invented without some hungry gringas and an ingenious Mexican. You see, gente? This is what can happen when we all try to get along.
I’m not a fan of lawn ornaments in general as they clutter the landscaping, but people around here seem to love yard decorations of all varieties. There’s one house we pass that keeps a melange of stone pigs on their front walk. They even go to the trouble of dressing them up for different holidays, which I have to admit, I find amusing.
Stone pigs aside, I usually don’t pay too much attention to people’s yard decorations, but last night we passed by one that was hard to ignore.
I made my husband go back and drive by again so I could get a photo. Luckily he’s used to such locuras and didn’t even question me. One summer it was my quest to photograph a cow that liked to wade into a little pond, but every time the cow was in there, I didn’t have my camera – and every time I had my camera, the cow was out in the field. One day my husband came home from work saying, “The cow’s in the water! Come on!” I grabbed my camera and we rushed over there and I got my photo.
Anyway, this was not a cow in a pond we stopped to photograph this time. As you can see, it is a man in a sombrero accompanied by a burro. The statues reminded me of the episode of George Lopez, when a neighbor put similar lawn decorations in his yard and they smashed them because they found them offensive.
¿Qué opinas tú?
Are the statues racist, tacky, or funny? Does the intent of the people who put up the statues matter? Does the race of the statue owners change your opinion? What if these statues were in front of a Mexican restaurant rather than in someone’s yard?
My oldest son will be 12 years old in a few months, but when it comes to the whole dating scene, he’s been way behind his peers. It seems like all his friends have been dating since Kindergarten, but my son didn’t start showing a mild interest in girls until this year and seemed in no rush to have a girlfriend, which was fine by me!
All that changed last Friday. When he came home from school he said, “I want to tell you something, but you can’t ask me a million questions.” (Don’t you love that?… it’s worse when they say, “…but you can’t get mad.”)
Anyway, he said, “I have a girlfriend.”
I clapped a hand over my mouth to stop the million questions from spilling forth. He stared at me. I took a deep breath and composed myself.
“Oh… that’s cool.” I feigned nonchalance. A minute passed… “Um, so, like… no questions at all?” I said tentatively.
He rolled his eyes… “OKAY, but not too many!”
I selected them carefully.
“What’s her name? …” (Liz.)
“How do you know her?…” (She’s in my classes.)
“What do you like about her?” (She’s nice and smart.)
I backed off and left him alone even though I was dying to know more. Over the weekend he showed me her picture in the year book. I had been wanting to ask him if she was Anglo, Latina, or something else, (He had a crush on a Korean-American girl last year), but I didn’t want him to think that I thought race was important. His father and I don’t care what race he dates or eventually marries, but we are curious to see how much more mixed up our family will become!
When I saw her picture in the year book, it was fairly obvious that she was Anglo, (of course, you never know for sure.) But based on her features, (not so unlike mine – blue eyes and freckles), and her surname, that would be my best guess.
Later that night I reported back to my husband everything I had learned about our son’s first girlfriend. We laid in bed, the house quiet, as we had our nightly chat before falling asleep.
“I wonder what her parents will say,” my husband said aloud.
“About what?” I said.
“When they find out their daughter’s boyfriend has the last name López.”
I hadn’t thought about that. We laid in bed, staring at the darkness for a minute.
“I’m sure it will be fine,” I said.
On Monday, our son came home from school. He closed the door behind him and set his backpack on the floor. “Well, we broke up,” he said.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“Oh yeah! I’m not upset about it at all. Whatever,” he said, heading towards the kitchen.
“That’s good… but, what happened?”
“She said that her parents told her she can’t have a boyfriend.”
“But she must have known that. Why did she say ‘yes’ when you asked her on Friday?”
“Good question,” he said shrugging his shoulders as he emptied the cupboards and refrigerator in pursuit of an after-school-snack.
I’m relieved that the question of racism hasn’t entered his thoughts as a possibility. I’m just sad that it’s entered mine.
(Warning: Video is not politically correct and contains adult language. Don’t watch if you can’t take a joke.)
As a result of the recent Draconian law, SB-1070, passed in Arizona which legalizes racial profiling, there has been a lot of buzz about boycotting the state. But just how does one boycott the state of Arizona?
According to netstate.com, “Arizona’s agricultural output is pretty evenly distributed between crops and livestock. About 47% of Arizona’s agricultural production is in livestock. The other 53% is in crops. In terms of revenue generated, Arizona’s top five agricultural products are cattle and calves, lettuce, dairy products, cotton, and hay.”
These aren’t exactly easy products to boycott since labels don’t always tell us the origin, for example, if I buy a T-shirt, there is no way for me to know where the cotton used to make it originated from.
Arizona also manufactures things such as electronic equipment, but again, which ones?
When trying to think up companies from Arizona, most Americans will come up immediately with Arizona Beverages, the makers of Arizona Iced Tea – but they would be wrong. Fearing this wrong assumption, the New York based company has even put a message up on their website.
There are a lot of famous companies that really are headquartered in Arizona though, such as Fender, P.F. Chang’s, Cold Stone Creamery, Best Western, PetSmart and U-Haul – but it doesn’t make sense to boycott these name brands either since this will hurt more than Arizona. It will hurt the company owners, who may not even be in favor of the new law, and because these companies have locations across the country, it will hurt all their other employees and their families who are already struggling in this economy.
So how can you boycott Arizona?
The most popular method being encouraged is to simply not go there, as “The Grand Canyon” state relies heavily on tourism.
Another method now being circulated targets Arizona’s baseball team, The Diamondbacks. The best reasoning for this particular approach is because the owners of the team are reportedly major donors to the Republicans responsible for the law. Other bonuses include the fact that more than 27% of Major League Baseball players are Latino which has helped to generate a huge Latino fan base. Losing Latinos at their games will be a major financial loss. A protest outside Wrigley Field in Chicago where the Diamondbacks are set to play the Cubs, is already being organized.
Meanwhile, Arizona Governor, Janet Brewer has decided to stick her head in the sand and hope for the best. Her recent statement, “I believe it’s not going to have the kind of economic impact that some people think that it might,” shows a shocking amount of ignorance at very recent history in her own state. In 2008 Arizona cracked down on businesses that were found to have hired undocumented immigrants and their economy suffered as a direct result.
(Video from 2008)
Some businesses have already noticed a decline in customers.
Hector Manrique the owner of Taqueria Guadalajara in Phoenix said, “The streets just went empty. Usually on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we’re packed. But this weekend was empty like I’d never seen it before… A lot of people told me they’re afraid to go out…”
And with good reason. The first American Citizen has already been mistakenly arrested, handcuffed, transported by van and detained. Abdon, who did not want to give his surname, was released after his wife arrived with his birth certificate at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in Phoenix where he was being detained.
What’s going on in Arizona is not the type of immigration reform this country needs. The soon-to-be Arizona law, which passed the state House last week and is expected to be signed by Gov. Jan Brewer (R), states that police can arrest anyone on “reasonable suspicion” that they are an illegal immigrant.
This is flat out racial profiling and it’s wrong. So, what if my family decided to go to the Grand Canyon this summer, (which we sure as hell won’t. I’m not stepping foot in Arizona as long as these sorts of laws are being enforced), and let’s say my husband was just walking around like any other tourist. Just based on his skin color, accent and lack of “proof” to the contrary, they could arrest him because they suspect he’s an illegal immigrant? (He’s a U.S. Citizen by the way.) … How can that be allowed to happen anywhere in the United States? If a legal resident or U.S. Citizen is in fact arrested or detained due to this new law, I hope they sue their pantalones off.
Part of me hopes that immigrants, (both documented and undocumented as they both must now survive in a constant state of paranoia), living in Arizona will simply leave the state and move elsewhere. Maybe Arizona thinks that is what they want, but they will soon realize they have shot themselves in the foot as various industries begin to collapse.
A similar law was passed a few years ago in Prince William County, Virginia. A timely documentary called “9500 Liberty” is on limited release right now. Some time soon it is supposed to premiere on cable television and will also be released on DVD. (In the meantime, watch the trailer below.)
The Teabaggers are complete imbeciles. I would laugh at them but it’s just depressing.
First of all, boycotting Mexico will just harm their economy, causing there to be even less jobs available, which will send more undocumented immigrants over the border in search of work. That seems rather counter productive. Second, yes, please, respect our country – Speak English.
Here’s an interesting little bit of audio from NPR/StoryCorps, (America’s largest nonprofit national oral history project):
Sylvia Mendez talks to her sister Sandra Mendez Duran about Mendez v. Westminster, their family’s 1945 lawsuit that won Mexican-American children the right to attend white schools.
The past couple days I have been visiting websites talking about the immigration march I went to in D.C. on Sunday. Some of the blogs I’ve come across are run by ignorant, xenophobic racists.
One of the worst websites I came across was Youth for Western Civilization. After reading William L. Houston’s extremely biased and vile “report” of the immigration march, I was filled with so much sadness for the ignorance that fills his young head.
I tried to comment multiple times. I presented intelligent arguments, and for this, my comments were deleted. I suppose those who run the website are too cowardly and ignorant to respond to factual truth. Meanwhile, they eagerly publish racist ranting comments which are written by people who obviously do not know how to turn off the CAPS lock.
Well, I will not be silenced. So William, and all the rest of you – I’m calling you out on my own blog and you can not delete me here. I will have my say, (even if it is just throwing pearls to swine.) And because you tried to shut me up, I will yell it even louder.
You went to the march/rally with the sole intent of finding “evidence” to jibe with your own misguided beliefs. You took photos of people waving non-U.S. flags just so you could call them unpatriotic. You and I both know, those people were in the minority and that the vast majority of the 200,000+ people proudly waved AMERICAN flags… Besides, even if people showed pride in their roots, how is it wrong? Is it any different than the Republicans who wave Israeli flags, (or worse, Confederate flags), or Caucasians who wear “Kiss me, I’m Irish!” T-shirts?
Second, those with Che Guevara shirts and things of that nature were also few in numbers. I saw ONE person and I was there for several hours. You must have really gotten a lot of exercise walking through the crowd and searching these people out.
In any crowd and at any event, at any gathering of any race or political party, you are going to find people with a different agenda. This rally was full of peaceful, hopeful people and you know it.
You say, “This wasn’t a spontatneous [sic] outburst of American patriotism like you see at the Tea Parties. Rather, it was tens of thousands of people waving small American flags (which the organizers provided them with) … because they want something in return, namely, American citizenship and access to taxpayer subsidized public services.”
You also say, “Some Latino demonstraters [sic] had bigoted, anti- European signs. There were signs at the rally which claimed that North America is a “Bronze Continent” that belongs to Indians and Latinos. There were others which claimed that Europeans were illegal immigrants.”
You are railing against the Latinos at the rally for being bigoted which is the epitome of irony. You also praise Teabaggers for their patriotism. Do I even have to explain how ridiculous that is? So, Latinos are bigots in your mind for suggesting a historically true fact, (that North America was stolen from the Indigenous people), yet Teabaggers, who are absolutely vile racists who most recently shouted “N*gg*r” and spit on a Black Congressman, are cool with you? … You are so far down the wrong path that even a top-of-the-line GPS couldn’t help you find your way back to reality.
Lastly, about that video you shot of people unintentionally walking over a little U.S. flag on the ground… You say:
“As we were leaving, we noticed Latino demonstrators walking over a discarded American flag on the sidewalk. We shot some video of those patriotic Americans which we will share on YouTube.”
Did you ever consider that perhaps the little flag slipped out of someone’s hand, (perhaps a child’s), accidentally, and it was totally unbeknownst to the person who dropped it? The people who are walking over it are not stomping on it, they simply fail to notice it is there. How does that make them unpatriotic? … You, on the other hand, saw your beloved flag on the ground being trampled. Not only did you leave it there, but you watched, and you took the time to video tape it. What does that make you?