Anti Blackness In the Latinx Community

Saturday, June 04, 2016

If you're out here realllyyy thinking we live in a post racial society. . you need a stark reality check. but anyways-

"On the morning of September 4, 1957, fifteen-year-old Dorothy Counts set out on a harrowing path toward Harding High, where-as the first African American to attend the all-white school – she was greeted by a jeering swarm of boys who spat, threw trash, and yelled epithets at her as she entered the building.

Charlotte Observer photographer Don Sturkey captured the ugly incident on film, and in the days that followed, the searing image appeared not just in the local paper but in newspapers around the world.

People everywhere were transfixed by the girl in the photograph who stood tall, her five-foot-ten-inch frame towering nobly above the mob that trailed her. There, in black and white, was evidence of the brutality of racism, a sinister force that had led children to torment another child while adults stood by. While the images display a lot of evils: prejudice, ignorance, racism, sexism, inequality, it also captures true strength, determination, courage and inspiration." Source
I saw this photo set & caption on my dashboard not too long ago. It sparked some thoughts on how desensitized we've become to slavery, the civil rights movement, and generally any movements that have challenged the racial status quo. I think we are all full and aware that the Civil Rights Movement was only 50ish years ago but it's so easy to just be like "oh, yeah it happened" like it was a piece of freaking cake. This isn't to say it isn't happening in 21st century America (it clearly is), but damn. I mean, look at the photos of Dorothy Counts again. How utterly disgusting is this? Please tell me it stirs something in you? Ms. Counts is as bad as ever btw:

The people at the school? Most of them are also alive and well (*coughs* they were the ones running governments and various critical institutions not too long ago, probably yesterday). As the caption reads this is some brutal sh**. All the power to Ms. Counts because I, never in a million years, could have had the strength and poise that she displayed. I still think many of these brutally racist sentiments are, like the children in the photo, alive and well. They are just more subtle. Well, I can't even say that. . . . how many times have we gone online (twitter/FB/etc) only to read people spew absolute and utter BS. I don't think we give those who put (literally) their lives on the line enough regard or admiration.

I live in Atlanta, and with its rich history it is almost embarrassing that I have not taken advantage of all the resources, museums, and information that is available to me by living here (I toured MLK's home & the museum when I was younger). The latest memory related to this topic is of visiting the National Center for Civil and Human Rights (same property as the Aquarium & Coca Cola which I highly recommend!!!). There is one segment in the Civil Rights portion where you recreate a "sit in". There is a mock lunch bar, you take a seat, place your flat on the counter (at your sides), while wearing headphones. The audio that plays is a sample of the taunting that these activists would have to endure. It is brutal, moving, I was shaking and left in tears.

BUT ANYHOW, I really can't even say how I feel about this so I will just sum it up with: respect and thankfulness. Respect for what I wrote above. Thankfulness because the African American civil rights movement were the ones that pushed, made the breakthrough, and helped paved the way for and inspired other civil rights movements (ex. Brown Berets/American Indian Movement). Click this link to read how both movements worked hand in hand and supported each other.

All of this is not to say that I am exempt from any anti black sentiment. Unfortunately, through anti blackness in the Latinx community and in general American society there has been prejudices that have been conditioned into my thought process. I admit this and make an effort to dismantle these notions, call out those in my community, and move forward. *coughs* Call out those in my community. (I recognize that there are Black Latinxs, that these identifications are not mutually exclusive, and that they can also experience anti blackness from their own community. That goes even deeper and probably deserves it's own post but I could not speak on that experience)

Mexicans/Xicanxs, please recognize the rampant anti blackness that rears its ugly head when we're with our friends and family. Listen to the comments, jabs, and recognize it's toxicity. Work on yourself, but make an effort with those around you (I have a long way to go and if I ever exhibit these attitudes, call me out). Call your loved ones out too. They may laugh and challenge you. Guess what? it's uncomfortable, but it's all part of the process. Like I read in this article by Tina Vazquez, I think it stems from a "us versus them mentality" that works so well for those in power.

If you've think you've moved past this initial stage of "recognition", you can still exhibit anti black sentiment through certain stunts of "activism" and "solidarity." (The linked article also mentions this topic)

Example: turning Black Lives Matter to Brown Lives Matter. Really? This movement is one to highlight black lives' specific experiences. Let's make our own hashtag/movement to highlight our experiences. Doing this kind of replacement is just a cheap and lazy tactic in my opinion. This also goes along the lines of a conversation on a specific BLM issue, and some of us will come in moaning "what about *insert specific Latinx/Xicanx situation*????" AGAIN. LAZY & CHEAP. Don't derail the conversation! It's important for us to be consciousness and work in solidarity not be counter productive. From my experience, I often see those in the black community keep each other accountable to not derail others' conversations or step into others' boundaries. But I rarely see it within Latinxs & Xicanxs, we even encourage it!

In conclusion, if we come together and fight anti blackness within our community, we can grow in fraternity and have more energy to concentrate on the real issues.

peace out, Melissa
(please comment if I have said something or spoken out of my place)

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