It goes without saying: in 2019, we need to tackle the hate and bigotry among people of color, especially within our own communities. It’s an issue I’ve tried tackling previously through my writing and community activism, and it’s something we need to bring more attention.
As I questioned in my Open Letter to My Hispanic Brothers and Sisters, I asked, “How can any of you find solace in aligning with the ideals of white supremacist’s anti-immigrant rhetoric”? Not surprisingly, the only people offended by that were those of the white nationalist variety.
Most of us are “woke” to the oppressive tendencies of society towards people of color in the United States. But I’ll be the first to admit that the way our communities are treated is, in many ways, dissimilar to the way Black folks are treated by American society at large. Sure, there are similarities, and the disparities in the way laws are disproportionately applied affect us all in the same ways.
However, we start to see problems when members of our community fall in line with bigots. There is a tendency to be somewhat accepting of white-looking Hispanics like myself by many hate groups in America. As long as we don’t make waves and accept things as they are, they pretend as if we are equal.
It’s only a matter of time before we are treated as lesser than they are. Many of you will attest to this because you’ve lived it. Some choose to ignore it. Whether it’s out of fear of repercussions or fear of stirring debate among friends and coworkers, nothing is said. Because typically, bigots turn on us once we are seen (or heard) honoring our culture and our ancestors. It happens more than many are willing to admit, yet every one of us knows it.
The reality is that many Hispanic and Latin Americans can be hateful towards one another. Especially when it comes to the LGBT+ community. It’s something that should be absolutely unacceptable to ALL of us. It’s as ridiculous as being hateful towards others based on which country they are from or because we are different shades of Brown or Black. If we all lived and grew up in culturally diverse communities as many of us have, we’d all be appreciative and supportive of other marginalized communities.
We can’t claim to understand the experiences of other communities unless we’ve seen it firsthand and felt their pain from bearing witness how it impacts those outside of our own community. Our communities who are equally affected —although by different means in an otherwise oppressive society— sometimes need to just shut up and listen. Sometimes we need to fight, not just for ourselves, but for all other marginalized groups.
Moving forward, we need to be allies to each other and accepting of other marginalized peoples.
Not gay? Fine.
You don’t have to be.
But you also have no place in dictating how others live their lives any more than white supremacists who get their panties in a bunch when we speak up and treat us as if we are speaking out of turn, not allowed our voice, not allowed to express ourselves. We’ve all experienced that in some capacity more than once in our lives. It’s unacceptable.
As a life-long, front-line anti-racist activist, anytime anyone tells me to shut up, I get louder. Never willing to acquiesce to the status quo. Never one to accept things as they are.
We must all be voices towards equality. We must build bigger tables and break bread with one another instead of building walls, physical or otherwise. If the United States is to be a beacon of liberty and equality, then it’s up to us to ensure a just and equitable future for all.
Arturo Tha Cuban is a front-line anti-racism activist, essayist and upcoming author who advocates for equality, justice and accountability. He tweets from @ExtremeArturo.