FOR HISPANICS, COPING IN AMERICA SIMPLY REQUIRES PATIENCE

When looking back at the recent siege on America’s capital on January 6th, one has to wonder why and what was the motive behind the madness? It was a frenzied attack that one police officer described as folks “foaming at the mouth” like a rabid dog. Within the savage crowd were white supremacists, self-proclaimed patriots and other hate mongers determined to raise hell. There were even ex-military personnel and alleged off duty members of law enforcement involved in the violence. Again, were they really trying to take over the government or just send a stern message? America doesn’t need to be “saved,” but we are at the crossroads on several fronts.

The inauguration of Joe Biden on January 20th seemed to bring us back to some level of normalcy in D.C, at least according to media-types. The same building that was trashed weeks ago was a backdrop of pomp and ceremony. Joe and Kamala Harris, the first woman VP in history, were graced by the attendance of former presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton. Lady Gaga even sang the National Anthem. But this carefully planned event was anything but normal. There were no special luncheons, parades or foreign dignitaries. And the huge military presence was higher in numbers than at any time during the 20 year war in Afghanistan. Why? Because we remain a nation severely divided.

There’s no question that people of color have a genuine fear of being targeted by cops in this country, Blacks in particular. Hispanics living on the fringes of society have family members who could be deported by DHS authorities at any time. Sometimes there is also a language barrier and a lack of cultural understanding among the masses who tend to berate immigrants as second class citizens. That makes my blood boil. Many blame Donald Trump for fanning the flames of unrest, even though I don’t believe that was his intention. Conflicts between minorities and the law have been going on for years. The late Rodney King once asked, “Why can’t we all just get along?” That was in 1992.

I launched my website, hispanichorizons.com and our Facebook page back in 2016 for similar reasons, at least from an Hispanic perspective. My goal has always been to bridge the gap between Latinos, our country’s largest minority, and law enforcement. Equally important is building a bond between neighbors and cultural understanding. My adult children are bi-racial and I have family all over Mexico. My daughter was married on the beach in Costa Rica. So this mission has always been of the utmost importance to me.

I’ve also been involved in the baseball business for over 40 years, almost as long as I’ve been a journalist. Before I began coaching in high school, I ran a successful travel ball program for kids. One year I took a group of 14-under players to Phoenix for a regional tournament, and it was a regretful experience because of bad club chemistry. It was a racially divided team with a couple of bad apples drawing sides against a few Hispanic boys, and the toxic mixture was both shameful and embarrassing. For some reason, a few smart ass white kids always picked on Carlos, a tough but quiet kid who was our starting catcher. One day after practice, the ringleader in the band lobbed a T-ball toward Carlos and hit him on the top of the head while he was putting away his gear. Enraged, Carlos grabbed a REAL baseball out of his bag and nailed the jokester square in the chest.

“I was only playing,” squealed the kid I’ll call Robert. The response was short and to the point.

“I’m not playing,” answered Carlos.

Then there was another incident prior to our first game of the event. The same group of boys approached another Latino kid in the dugout and tried to push the conflict a bit further.

“Hey Juan, I did your Mexican girl friend last night,” smiled Robert, “and she was pretty good!”

When I approached Robert and his parents privately about the teasing back at the hotel, the kid sheepishly looked down and said nothing. Mom and dad were speechless as well, but the smirk on their faces were self explanatory, and I have never felt more disappointed. The apple, as they say, never falls far from the tree.

I don’t know how many of the people who busted into the capitol building shared the same stupidity of this teen’s parents. Racial tensions were not at the forefront of the violence, although that was probably part of the mind set. If this was meant to be a revolt against Socialism, I can relate philosophically. But the end result could have been catastrophic, and violence is never the correct approach.

Look, there’s no way that Joe Biden can wave a magic wand and heal this country because there is simply too much to do. COVID has wounded us financially and left our families devastated with the deaths of loved ones. Our children have been socially and academically affected under the lockdown and are about to scream at the sky. And with little money to spend in support of their families, adults are equally frustrated. The one positive under the new administration is that immigration reform will gain some forward progress. Young people in the DACA program will likely see citizenship become a reality. Asylum seekers will have their cases heard. Latinos and Latinas are resilient and population numbers are climbing, so patience is extremely important. Baby steps are better than nothing.

As for the rest of us, the only thing we can control is our own behavior and kindness toward others. Racial bias must stop. Our leaders keep saying we are all in this together, and I’m tired of hearing that bullshit because most of us don’t seem to pay attention. You don’t need to love your neighbors. Simply respect them as human beings, regardless of their color, religion or political views. Treat them like you would like to be treated. We MUST do better, folks. If we make that simple commitment, America will do better.

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