Is there a difference between racist and white? A New York professor has an idea.
Tanya Hernández is an instructor at private Jesuit research school Fordham University, and she has a message about Latinos. The academic’s thoughts were recently probed due to a shocking story in California.
As you may know, LA City Council President Nury Martinez recently stepped down. Her resignation followed an audio leak.
RedState’s Bob Hoge reported last week:
A stunning recording from a Los Angeles City council meeting dated October 2021 reveals Council President Nury Martinez repeatedly using offensive, racist language while describing colleagues, other city officials—even the baby of one of her fellow councilmembers. I’m not usually one to take great offense when people are caught making inappropriate comments—after all, we live in a “gotcha” culture—but even my jaw dropped when I read some of the things this lovely lady had to say.
She called a supervisor’s son a Spanish colloquialism for “little monkey,” dubbed Council member Mike Bonin “a bitch,” and said of County District Attorney George Gascón, “F*** that guy. He’s with the Blacks.” I’m no fan of Gascón or Bonin, but this is nasty stuff.
On Saturday, MSNBC’s The Cross Connection tackled the issue. Host Tiffany Cross opened thusly:
“I see these things, I’ve…been in proximity to these things my entire life. I’ve always grown up in communities where the Latino community was adjacent…”
Tiffany pegged the problem — a white-laced wickedness:
“The common ground here is white supremacy. Because it seems like some people in the Latino feel like, ‘If we’re white-adjacent, maybe we will not be subjected to the same racism and prejudice.'”
The host went on to display an excerpt from “a great writer in The Atlantic“:
Your “whiteness” will always be relative. You can utter as much garbage as you want about Black people; you can vote Republican; you can lead the Proud Boys. You will never “achieve” whiteness. The “gift” bestowed upon Italians and the Irish isn’t happening for us. So, you can discriminate against Black people and Afro-Latinos all you want. It won’t make you white. It just makes you a racist person of color. A Brown Clayton Bigsby (the blind, black KKK member from Chappelle’s Show). A fool.
“I echo those sentiments,” Tiffany said. She then turned to Professor — and self-described “race law expert” — Tanya for further insight into whether racially-charged language makes a Hispanic certifiably Caucasian or just crappy.
The educator schooled viewers:
“Well, I actually think that there is another layer to this. Some people within the Latino community do achieve whiteness — one, because they are white-appearing; they favor more our European ancestors. And depending on their accent, their educational level, whether they actually have a recognizable Hispanic surname, that all those things enable a person to — I wouldn’t call it ‘passing,’ but — seemingly and seamlessly being able to pass into whiteness. Or white Anglo-whiteness — just as they have whiteness within Latin America and the Caribbean.”
Not all Hispanics are contributing to “the browning of America;” also, if you’re white, how white are you? Tanya talked shades:
“So, I guess what I want to say is that, despite this idea of all Latinos being brown — you know, some browns are browner than others, and some whites are whiter than others. There are Latinos who are white, whether they have that personal identity or not.”
Unlike The Atlantic, Tanya believes white privilege can be appropriated by Hispanics:
“That’s their socially-ascribed race from others outside, and they get to move in that privilege as well.”
It’s a privilege America is passionately punishing:
It seems Latinos would want to steer clear of that.
As for The Atlantic’s assertion that Italians and the Irish have acquired a “gift,” they sure weren’t gifted during their early time in America. See “When America Despised the Irish: The 19th Century’s Refugee Crisis” and “The Grisly Story of One of America’s Largest Lynchings: Innocent Italian-Americans Got Caught in the Crosshairs of a Bigoted Mob.”
Back to MSNBC’s riddle, we’ve reached a curious point in the country when a nonwhite person’s prejudice prompts the question, “Have they, then, become white?” But this is the direction those in power have chosen, and we won’t likely soon be changing trajectory.
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