Sunday, December 25, 2011
When you do not know the U.S. racial history of words, U.S. racial history period, and continue using them uncritically, the danger is that you will reproduce racism at a higher level.
Recently, (see my twitter timeline for 140 character rants), I replied to an Occupy Oakland tweet that referenced an article about Bank of America ripping off African Americans and [sic] Hispanics. I replied: Decolonize occupy plus something to the effect that majority of us "Hispanics" are not "Hispanics" and majority are indigenous and Afro-descendents. There are Hispanics in the U.S. just like there are Mexicans, Salvadorans, Guaremalans, Cubans, Nicaraguans, Chileans, Brazilians, Colombians, etc.
So lumping us together as "Hispanics" is not accidental -- why not lump us as "Mexicans," the majority of "Hispanics" in the U.S.? I bet you the Hispanics would be up in arms -- which wouldn't be a bad idea; they have done that before and beautifully.
Don't get me wrong. I don't believe for one moment that the U.S. Southwest belongs to Mexico -- or the U.S. Here in Oakland, we are on Ohlone land. You can't erase the past. It might take a long time to retake it, relocate ourselves in the natural world. The triple conquest, the triple occupation of Indian lands and the colonializaion of many mentalities to make some believe they're white and others Hispanic, won't be overcome easily.
The history of anti-Mexican racism in the U.S. needs more action and discussion. In sum, why Hispanic and not Mexican, or Indian... to name us?
Before the 1960s came to a head, Texas and the rest of the U.S. used to count Mexicans as "white" during the Census. After the 1960s civil rights movements rocked the foundations of the U.S., we started being counted as Hispanics. Before the government christened us "Hispanics," to count Mexiicans would have been political suicide for Texas and other regions of the Southwest where we have been the "majority" for decades or what seems like forever.
When the U.S. government decided to name and lump us as Hispanic, the (internalized and not so internalized) racism we have all been subjected to made self-hatred and racism easier to maintain. Because Hispanic divided us racially and helped whiteify or bleach the mentality of the darker, indian and black Mexican and others who maybe did not want to be dark skinned, black in a white hierarchy of pain. Hispanic, now you're one of us, white, well almost white, if you can act like there's no Border Patrol and race police checkpoints....