Good, damned Hispanics: who are we?

The term “Hispanic” is an invention of the United States government. Nothing new, considering the country’s obsession with race since before it was founded.

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Miami airport
Foto: CBS
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The first time I visited the United States, I had to fill out a form before arrival. In the “race” section, I wrote “no race.” It was the first time in my life that I had read such a classification. A decade later, I returned to set up in a classroom. Over time, I understood that you had to ‘play the game’: the more “Hispanics” mark “Hispanic” instead of “White,” the more political power the government affords them. The logic is well travelled: Minority groups accept being confined to a box with a label conferred by the dominant group.


The term “Hispanic” is an invention of the United States government. Nothing new, considering the country’s obsession with race since before it was founded. As an invention, we are a reality, and as a reality, many wish to escape from the box, not in rebellion but rather in submission. A “z” that needs to be accepted by the “A” group must be at least 200 percent “A” to be accepted as an “almost-A.”


Why the hell do I care if others do not accept me as I am? We Hispanics in the US have a historical debt. Yes, we had a César Chávez, but we have been far too accommodating in the face of an obscene list of injustices. We have not had a Malcolm X who dared to speak directly to power radically rather than delicately. Even worse, countless times we have betrayed the struggles of other minorities: Firstly, because privileged immigrants have been unable to resist the temptation to pass off as White. Secondly, because we Latin Americans have also been corrupted by two centuries of interventions and dictatorships promoted by Washington and the corporations demanding laws and privileges for their businesses, destroying democracies, and leaving behind millions of exiles and massacred bodies. Initially, this was justified by the traditional racial excuse that we were corrupt mestizos (because for us “the n*** does not belong socially to a degraded race”). After WWII, the excuse of the fight against communism emerged to continue doing the same things since the 19th century, when the pro-slavery contingent expanded slavery across Native American territories and restored it throughout Mexican lands, all justified by the repeated discourse of “promoting freedom and democracy.”


We have also betrayed our brothers and sisters in the South by denying this racist and classist reality behind the new imperial arrogance. As a hegemonic power with the ability to print trillions of the global currency and with hundreds of military bases all around the world, the US can conduct very profitable business by twisting the arm of those “non-compliant” nations. Ironically, the greatest expulsion of migrants comes from capitalist countries that are not on Washington’s boycott list. But if capitals are free; workers are not. The immigration laws hate workers.


So, when a “z-Hispanic” arrives in a country with this hegemonic force, they dress up as an “a-Hispanic.” Many claim to be fleeing from (blocked) countries where they do not have freedom of expression, but the second they hear a different opinion they vomit the old myth from the “A” group: “if you do not agree, go to another country.” It is as if the adulation of power and the reification of national myths were a moral and constitutional obligation, as if countries had owners, as if they were cults, armies, football teams, political parties, as if critical thinking and the search for the truth were somehow anti-American…


In 2019 a terrorist killed 23 Hispanic people in a Walmart in Texas, alleging that they were invading his country. This was a mirror of the linguistic inversions of Andrew Jackson, who after pillaging and massacring Native American nations accused them of unprovoked aggression, and James Polk, who made up a Mexican aggression “on American soil” to expropriate half of the neighbor’s territory. The traditional recourse to “we were attacked first, and we had to defend ourselves” (such as with the USS Maine and in countless other false flag operations) is in the DNA of nativist fanatics, some of them “a-Hispanics.”


The profound racism of politicians and KKK-sympathizing ultra-religious zealots, from whom Hitler took inspiration, was reborn as an ideological triumph after the Confederacy was defeated in battle. Not without irony, modern-day Mexico, all Caribbean and Central American countries are not states of the U.S. because the invaders discovered that those countries were full of Black people. When Abraham Lincoln ended the long U.S. dictatorship, former slave owners brought in the Jim Crow laws. As a result, Cubans in Florida (which in its clubs, industries, and hospitals did not discriminate between Black and White people) were separated by force and obliged to adopt the customs of the successful Anglo-Saxons. New Mexico and Arizona did not become states with the full right to vote until 1912 when Washington was able to verify that the Hispanic majority had receded to the point of becoming a minority. From 1836, Hispanics that stayed north of the border became the “invading bandits”. Those that arrived had to fight in the courts until the beginning of the 20th century to prove that they were White. During the Great Depression in the ‘30s, half a million Americans were deported to Mexico because they had Mexican faces, causing many to continue fighting to ‘whiten’ themselves.


This psychology of the colonized, of the individual desperate to be accepted through disguising themselves, continues to this day. Consequently, the greatest service that anyone can do for this country is not to go to the beach with the stars and stripes emblazoned across their bathing suit but rather to tell the truth. Above all, inconvenient truths, those that have been buried by the brute force of barbarism in the name of civilization.
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