Tag Archives: Latinos

Racism takes many forms

I am seeing this drama unfold from some distance, but given my history with Amarillo, Texas, it isn’t as far as many other communities on which commented regarding similar issues.

A local lawyer, Jesse Quackenbush, wants to open a Mexican food restaurant called Big Beaners. It has, um, drawn considerable opposition within the community. Why? The term “beaners” is perceived by many Latinos to be an ethnic slur. Some of us Anglos see it that way, too.

Quackenbush, known for his feisty and occasionally combative nature, isn’t backing down. He wants to open the joint in early July; I understand he pushed the opening date back a few days.

He said he isn’t going to change the name because he already has ordered restaurant supplies — napkins, cups, plates and such — with the name Big Beaners inscribed on them.

This story, it seems to me, is a direct result of the rising public awareness of racial and ethnic sensitivity that has been pushed to the front of our consciousness. I haven’t spoken to Jesse Quackenbush about this, although I do understand he is digging against the racism allegation.

I just would suggest that the term “beaners” is a term that has racist connotations to many of us who hear it. I wish he would rename the restaurant he intends to open.

We return to Amarillo on occasion to see family and friends. I guess I should just acknowledge that I won’t darken his door as long as the establish carries a name that I find offensive.

Wondering about bilingual signage

MEDICINE HAT, Alberta — It was somewhere east of Kamloops, British Columbia, when I noticed them: Highway signs began appearing with text written in English and French.

West of there it was all English.

I haven’t spent a lot of time in Canada. I went to British Columbia briefly in 1980 and made the acquaintance of some rough-and-tumble loggers who greeted me as I sought to learn about the circumstances of my father’s death in a boating accident.

I noticed then that the signage was in two languages. The loggers didn’t like it. Indeed, they didn’t think much of their countrymen and women of French ancestry … and they made their feelings clear.

But I digress.

On this journey through the western half of Canada, my wife and I took note of the appearance of the twin-language signage.

They don’t bother me in the least. Then again, I am just a visitor from the States. However, this linguistic oddity does make me wonder: When do you suppose some of our states are going to enact laws requiring twin-language highway signs. You know what I mean: signs in English and in Spanish.

Texas, where my family and I have lived for 35 years, contains a heavily Latino minority. Latinos comprise the second largest ethnic group in the state — and their percentage is overtaking the Anglo majority.

I don’t know when Texas will become a Latino-majority state. I do believe it will occur eventually, likely after I have checked out permanently.

Does this mean the state, along with other states around the country — particularly those that border Mexico — will be forced to follow the trail blazed in Canada, which decided some time back to accommodate its French-speaking minority?

It makes perfect sense to me.

I am aware that such a thing, were it to become a reality, likely won’t go over well with many Americans. Some of us think English should be the nation’s “official language.” I disagree with that notion.

However, as I have noted already, I likely won’t be around to engage in that brouhaha were it to erupt.

It could be worse, you know. A decade ago I spent a month in Israel, where I noticed that in the much of that country the highway signage was in English, Hebrew … and Arabic. 

That’s an eyeful, man!

Speak to us, Mr. President, about violence against Latinos

Mr. President, your silence is giving me a headache.

The gunman who opened fire on Latinos at the Wal-Mart in El Paso, Texas, allegedly had declared his intention to “kill as many Mexicans as possible.” He allegedly was motivated by your own rhetoric that many of us have deemed to be hateful toward people of Latin American descent.

So the gunman took matters into his own hands, allegedly.

Why haven’t you spoken out? Why have you declined to categorically declare that you — the president of the United States — will not tolerate hateful actions against Latinos.

Yes, I saw your speech at the White House the other day. I heard you declare that the nation must fight against intolerance and hate. The nation, Mr. President? Yes, that’s right.

What about you, sir? What is going to be your role in that fight? Are you going to lead that fight? Will you speak directly and personally to the pain you are feeling — if you’re feeling it — in the wake of this monstrous act of hate?

Your visit to El Paso and earlier to Dayton, the other community that mourns the deaths of those at the hands of another lunatic gunman, didn’t go well. You must know what we’re saying about all of that out here.

What are you going to do to repair the grievous damage that has been? I am not going to lay the direct blame at your feet for the deaths of those folks. I do believe your rhetoric has played a role.

It now falls on you, Mr. President, to speak directly to what has occurred … and why.

I am prepared to wait for as long as it takes. That, of course, depends on whether the silence-induced headache gets the better of me.

For GOP, immigration reform a necessity

Congressional Republicans are facing a stark reality in the face.

If they fail to approve immigration reform — and soon — they’re going to be cast farther into the political wilderness by those who would benefit most by such improvements in U.S. immigration policy.


The GOP already is in serious trouble with immigrants and with those who are the direct descendants of recent immigrants to the United States, as the 2012 presidential election proved without a doubt.

GOP nominee Mitt Romney fared poorly among Latino voters, winning about one in four votes, enabling President Obama to win an unexpectedly comfortable re-election victory.

Republicans who control the House of Representatives have been reluctant to act on immigration reform, such as enabling those who came to this country illegally as children a path to citizenship. They’re going to pay a big price down the road if they don’t do the right thing by giving those folks a chance to come out of the shadows.

House Speaker John Boehner, who I believe is a reasonable man caught in the vise grip of a wing of his party, is beginning to send out signals that immigration reform could occur this year. Barack Obama thinks it will happen, as he told congressional Democrats.

Given that the GOP has declared its intention to reach out, such reform is becoming a necessity.

It’ll be good for a beleaguered political party. What’s more, it will be good for the country.