Is there racism on the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council?
Well, that is a rather provocative question indeed. Why even ask it in the first place? It can only lead to bad feelings, and increase suspicion and mistrust. Right?
Well, maybe yes, and maybe no.
If there isn't any racism then it's natural for people involved to just shrug it off with a smile. Who cares? Whatever. We know better than that, etc. But if the question hangs in the air, unanswered like a dead weight, then perhaps it is well we take a second look. At least.
First let me preface my remarks and observations by stating that I'll be 50 years old, next Spring. I grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, here, in Highland Park, along the avenues, South of Figueroa at a time when a young brown skinned boy was not welcome North of York Boulevard. let alone Colorado Boulevard. I think I can recognize racism when I see it. I actually had a physical fist fight with 3 Ku Klux Klan members in South Phoenix once, but racism is not always that overt. Sometimes it can be very subtle, and below the surface. The person being bigoted often isn't consciously aware of their behavior.
I once had an interview for a sales job, on Monterey Road and York. The interviewees got whittled down between me and another young man my age. All things should have been equal, with the exception that I had just been mustered out of the service, so maybe that experience could have weighed in my favor. The other differentiating factor was that he was white. Now, mind you, this wasn't in the 60s, or 70s. this was the mid-80s. We both read for a middle-aged white lady from a sales script, closing an imaginary deal, etc. I am sure I performed better. I'm not known for any great personal self confidence, but in this instance, I was sure that I'd done better. Still, I didn't get the job. The white guy did. What was that about?
Was it because in the eyes of the interviewer I was just a brown skinned youth from Highland Park. That could have been, huh? In fact I wouldn't doubt it.
Another time, a Chicano friend of mine was waiting in line at an art supply store in Pasadena. The clerk kept waiting on other customers, completely ignoring my brown skinned friend. He asked me, "Hey Mog, WTF?" I'm like, I don't know, maybe he thinks your just a poor Mexican, without much to spend. So, he's going to wait on the white customers first, because he thinks they do have money. My friend became hopping mad, and spoke up to the counter person, "Hey! Why are you ignoring me? Because I'm Mexican?" The man profusely apologized and just said it was unusually busy, that's all.
When a white woman points her finger at a Latina, and intones ominously, "I'm not talking to you!", as occurred recently at a Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council Meeting, or ridicules a Latina for "pretending to be an expert", having Completed The State Required Ethics Training for Elected Public Officials, then I think something unpleasant is going on here, that demands further examination.
Some Latina and Latinos are not prone to confrontation in public, as it is embarrassing, and shows a lack of class. I mean, come on! You just don't do certain things. Some Hispanic people are timid when it comes to contention. It is not in our culture to engage in that sort of unseemly behavior. It's a bad reflection on your parents! And some Anglos realize these factors, and take full advantage. I am sensitive to this, as I say. Based on my back ground, and personal experience.
While I can not conclusively say if racism exists on the HHPNC, I can say that if you are new to the area, yet feel your ability is superior to locals, who you think have accomplished so little without you, then I think it is clear you are being prejudiced. If you are white, and are the presiding chair of the NC, and you are cutting off a fellow board member, enabling another white to chastise a Latina, then you are being discriminatory.
I am running an uphill, independent campaign. I'm not part of any person's "Slate." I know this makes me an underdog, but some battles are worth fighting. Alatorre was a fighter, so was Snyder, and so am I! What I am fighting for is inclusiveness, and harmony. What I am fighting against is arrogance and authoritarianism.
I encourage all to come out and Vote On Oct. 13 At The Highland Park Recreation Center. Polls are Open From 10:00AM to 4:00PM