Hispanics and African-Americans hold the record for the worst treated groups in US history. But before long Hispanics will become the single largest group in the country. What then?
The historical development of the US West is an especially sordid story in a national history of sordid stories. Most of the Anglo arrivals were late comers, immigrants moving into territory where Hispanics and Indians had lived for centuries. They were an unsavory mix of speculators, adventurers, fleeing felons, militarists, racists, murderers and others. While no one questions that African-Americans were mistreated, it’s worth noting that Spanish speakers, particularly Mexican-Americans, experienced prejudice that was at least as bad.
For many decades, no one of Mexican descent anywhere in the Southwest ever received justice before the law, whether that law was local, state, or national. A number were shot or lynched. Many were cheated out of the land their families had lived on and worked for centuries, by speculators, with the collusion of government, and had everything they owned stolen or destroyed. Many were deported to Mexico, which their families had left centuries before. Pay for blacks was low, but pay for Mexican-Americans was half of that. They were barely even second class citizens.
Anglo arrivals in the West were immigrants
moving into territory where
Hispanics had lived for centuries.
When one reads of minorities, especially immigrants, the same insulting terms are used to describe literally every group: lazy, filthy, untrustworthy, uneducable, and so on. In each and every case, of course, these beliefs were nonsense, and in the case of Hispanics, they were not immigrants.
No administration has fixed today’s immigration in spite of promises, and by 2012 the Obama administration had deported 1.4 million people, more than any previous president. The deportation process is odious and amoral. People who “look Mexican” are imprisoned and basically held incommunicado until they can prove their citizenship or their case is decided, which can take months, or even years. If they are released, no restitution for their losses is ever made.
Among the recent deportees have been a number of US citizens and people who spoke no Spanish and had never been out of the country, not to mention children of the incompletely documented, who were dumped in Mexico where they had never been. The popular cry claims that poorly paid migrant workers “take American jobs”, and steal our tax money for public services they use unfairly.
About those “American” jobs, leaving aside the fact that all the Hispanics from Argentina to Canada live in America. After North Carolina passed a hateful law that caused a mass exodus of Hispanics from the state, farmers were unable to harvest their crops. The United Farm Workers union challenged all those complaining “true Americans” to come and work the fields. Only a few responded, and all were spectacular failures, most unable to keep up with the grueling poorly paid work for even half a day.
About those “American” jobs:
“True Americans” were unable to complete
even a half day of field work.
The centuries-old stereotypes persist, and have become a mainstay of the political right, particularly in the states that for longer than our national history consisted mostly or entirely of Spanish speakers. There are constant campaigns to demand English Only in places where the dominant language has been Spanish for centuries.
People making these demands assume that English is the official language of the US. It is not. We have no official language, and no official religion either. They also presume that Anglos are the predominant culture. Not necessarily. Spanish is the dominant language in half a dozen states, and Hispanics already constitute over half of the population of California, Texas, and Florida, almost half the population in several others, and all of the population of the Territory of Puerto Rico. (More than a few US citizens need to be reminded that Puerto Ricans are US citizens.)
Hispanics will soon be the largest group in the US. Perhaps those making English Only demands should realize that, since they will be minority citizens in the not-distant future, they would do well to become a little more aware of the dominant Hispanic history and culture, and at least know a few Spanish words.
English is not our official language.
Hispanics have a longer history
in the US than Anglos.
Here are the facts: Spanish speakers have lived in several of our present states for four centuries. Today the net immigration across the Mexican border is zero. Hispanics have strong families and religious faith (usually Catholic), a powerful work ethic, and the least welfare usage of any group in the US. They are healthier, with fewer heart attacks, lower cancer rates, fewer strokes, longer life expectancy than several other groups. Their achievement of higher education and professional occupation is the same as the rest of the nation in spite of their general poverty. They out-middle-class all other groups of citizens. (Readers who want a thorough exposure to Hispanic America, especially the US, should read Our America, by Felipe Fernández-Armesto, a US citizen of Spanish descent who teaches at Notre Dame.)
I believe that the increased political power of Hispanics will in time prove beneficial to us all, voiding the Anglo laws of hatred that have characterized so much of the history of the Spanish-speaking states and elsewhere, and which seem to be the preoccupation of states that should instead be honoring their Hispanic legacy and their hard-working Spanish speakers.
It is only the fact that the Hispanic giant is still dazed and half conscious from the centuries of Anglo beatings that has allowed these racist hate laws to persist. Hispanics simply have not realized what it means that they will soon be the majority power in the country. When it does become apparent that they outnumber the haters, they will realize that they can prevent and dismantle the kinds of laws and treatment that have plagued them for so long. We’ll all be better for it.