How Anti-Latino Rhetoric Hurts All Americans

This is what we've been saying all along. Anti-Latino rhetoric hurts all Americans.

By Belinda Campos and Leo R. Chavez, Greater Good Magazine (10.5-minute read) 

We all want to be valued members of the groups to which we belong. For Latinos in the United States, this isn’t easy. Rhetoric that casts Latinos as a threat to other Americans is a fact of life.

Do words matter? To Latinos? To all Americans?

In a study that started last summer, we learned that anti-immigrant and anti-Latino rhetoric can leave psychological damage in its wake. But the findings also point to a pathway for undoing that damage, by the simple act of bringing attention to a group’s positive contributions and membership in the larger group. If we can replace hateful rhetoric with language that is positive and inclusive, we won’t just help Latinos feel good about themselves. We’ll also help to build a stronger United States.

Seeing Latinos as a threat

Some may be tempted to think that anti-Latino rhetoric is a new phenomenon, a product of changes to the political discourse that first appeared during the presidential campaign in 2015 and 2016. That would be wrong. The history is much longer. During the era of the Great Depression, for example, people who looked “Mexican”—including U.S. citizens—were deported to Mexico as a way to reduce competition for scarce jobs or conserve poverty relief funds for people deemed more deserving. In Los Angeles alone, these actions cut the Latino population by one-third.

That’s the history Donald Trump tapped into when he began his campaign on June 16, 2015, by calling Mexican immigrants drug dealers, criminals, and rapists. But Trump did not stop with immigrants, going on to target Americans with Mexican heritage. In a highly publicized attack on Judge Gonzalo Curiel that members of his own political party called “the textbook definition of a racist comment,” Donald Trump questioned the Judge’s ability to perform his job—overseeing a lawsuit involving Trump himself—because his parents had been born in Mexico. Trump’s attack on Curiel, an American citizen by birth in the United States, was an attack on all Americans of Mexican descent.

Far from punishing this anti-Latino rhetoric, significant numbers of Americans voted for Donald Trump—and today he is president of the United States.

Trump isn’t alone, of course. Earlier this year, Iowa congressman Steve King suggested that Latino children are a threat to the nation’s future: “Culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” This rhetoric drew a clear distinction between “us” (legitimate members of the nation) versus “them” (those who don’t belong) that casts Latinos as “other” who cannot be Americans.

Though it’s not possible to establish a causal link between this rhetoric and real-world violence, it is probably not an accident that hate crimes in nine U.S. cities rose more than 23 percent in 2016, according to a study by criminal justice professor Brian Levin at California State University, San Bernardino.

READ MORE 

Subscribe today!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Must Read

Carlos Guerra, journalist and civil rights activist

Victor Landa April 9, 2018

In the 1960s, Texas A&I University (now Texas A&M University-Kingsville) was a hotbed for political activism. The campus was the home of several Mexican American civil rights organizations.  Among them […]

New Mexico Native James Borrego to Become First Latino Full-time NBA Head Coach

Victor Landa May 9, 2018

Spurs assistant coach James Borrego not only landed his first full-time head-coaching job on Tuesday, he made NBA history. The AP is reporting that Charlotte owner Michael Jordan has completed a […]

California, NY sue Trump administration over addition of citizenship question to census

Victor Landa March 27, 2018

The state of California sued the Trump administration Monday night, arguing that the decision to add a question about citizenship in the 2020 Census violates the U.S. Constitution. The state’s attorney general […]

Texas OKs Mexican-American studies curriculum under new name

Victor Landa April 12, 2018

The Texas Board of Education on Wednesday gave preliminary approval to creating statewide academic standards for a Mexican-American studies high school course — but only after changing the name to “ethnic studies,” […]

Second Amendment does not guarantee right to bear an AR-15

Victor Landa April 9, 2018

In 2008, in Heller v. District of Columbia, the United States Supreme Court, for the first time, interpreted the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution to protect “the right […]

5 Women Who Are Mobilizing The Latino Community For The Midterm Elections

Victor Landa May 24, 2018

The midterm elections this year are a pivotal time for activation, regardless of what side of the aisle you stand on. The Latino vote particularly is being mobilized by some […]

Latinos And Others Find Trump Tweets Not Unusual

Victor Landa April 23, 2018

NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro talks to Pilar Marrero, a writer at the Spanish language daily La Opinion in Los Angeles, about President Trump tweets attacking California’s sanctuary laws. LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST: This past […]

When Your 12-Year-Old Son Faces Little League Racism

Victor Landa April 30, 2018

As parents, we walk a fine line between solving our children’s problems and letting them struggle on their own, like when they’re faced with little league racism. My 12-year-old plays […]