During a conversation about the American racist society which has been encouraged by President Donald Trump and his colleagues, Dr. Ramon J. Martinez, Ph.D., told me that Blanca Alvarado, retired elected official (32 years as SJ City Council member plus member of Board of Supervisors, County of Santa Clara), had said, “Somebody (Hispanic) needs to do or say something that RACISM!”, I could not agree more.
However, I recommend that Latinos begin to talk to each other, especially a trusted friend, about their personal experiences with the racism which impacted them at various times during their life’s journey. We have all had several experiences with racism resulting from prejudice and bigotry.
And what are the situations each of us must begin to speak up about? There are several situations which each of us must acknowledge our feelings, disappointment, and anger when experiencing being the target of some individual’s racist bigotry and prejudice.
One incident I recall was when an administrator told me verbally that it was a “waste of taxes” to allow me to attend the local community college. I acknowledged his statement with my own, which was, “When I want your opinion, I will ask you for it. Until then, as the administrative individual who must process my documents, please do your job fairly because you are not the one who decides who gets to attend any school or obtain further training.”
In my assessment, the Trump Administration has demonstrated its racism with the treatment of families who sought entry into this nation at its Mexican American border. Individuals and families did not receive the asylum being sought. There were insufficient number of immigration processing personnel in those immigration courts, many judges are required.
The placement of children and their families in ‘camps’ which were of inadequate capacity and staffed with personnel not properly trained added to the inability to process individuals or families with some level of respect and dignity. Much of that is the result of management personnel whose personal values are those of ‘being a white supremacist’ to begin with.
President Trump needs to recall that his family immigrated here; his current wife is an immigrant who receives special attention because of her looks and being a mother to the President’s son.
Here in Silicon Valley, very profitable firms such as Google and Facebook are staffed by employees who are all White Anglo-Saxon persons (WASPS), usually of the male gender. Why doesn’t Google and Facebook advertise employment opportunities in local ethnic bilingual newspapers? Or schedule career fairs at local schools whose students are mostly persons of color?
Our community is quite diverse. The local employers need to take those extra efforts to include diversity, and to communicate to local educators the needed information and skills which are being used.
Have you ever noticed how certain ‘expert panelists’ on TV programs are all white-haired men? Until more women and persons of color are admitted to training experiences and employment, there will be no skilled, trained pool from which to choose the best and brightest. Too often, friends of friends get the best available jobs with the outcome that WASPS end up in the best positions.
One mitigative approach is to plan a ‘mentorship effort’ which introduces women and persons of color to new career path. The unions need to publish ads in local ethnic publications – ads which inform millennial youth when paid apprenticeships are available and provide information regarding preparatory training and skills required.
Racism has an economic aspect. In the past the best jobs available became known to friends and associates first. It was when the Department of Labor required public posting of available vacancies that individuals who were members of marginalized communities, began to become informed about the many opportunities which exist. Access to such opportunities takes the acknowledgement and approval of the executive level of any organization.
Those who have authority and influence must make a special effort to inform those marginalized communities and then be open to inclusive diversity in the pool of trainees. The objective is to have a labor force become fairly representative of the resident population. And if it is not, then to undertake a program which informs unrepresented communities about the desire to become more diverse.
I was asked to serve in the ‘Minority Admission Committee, Stanford’ during 1966 because at that time the Stanford faculty Senate adopted a policy to admit more women and more diverse individuals to that elitist university. I was a biochemist who came into my staff position when the entire research group I belong to was brought to Stanford by the Principle Investigator Arthur Kornberg whose research focus was on nucleotides.
I recall when one high-level university administrator asked me who had hired me, and added, “We do not hire Mexicans here at Stanford.” Being nimble-witted, I introduced this prejudiced bigoted racist to Professor Kornberg. Arthur informed that individual that I was a member of his research staff and had been for 3 prior years.
“You, sir, should not project your views on Hilbert. He is an American born citizen with birthright privileges whose immigrant parents were from Mexico. He has never been to Mexico in his life and moreover, he has 3 years of military service. He is an American despite what you project upon him.” Arthur was very upset with that racist individual.
Blanca Alvarado’s statement, “Someone has to do something about that” is being answered by many diverse individuals (such as me) who have acquired the training and expertise to become ‘knowledge workers’. Too often, racist individuals fail to recognize the potential in individuals of color with the result that our economy and society fail to benefit from their professional insights and service.
My parents told me as a child: “Do not allow others to define who you are or can become. Look for a way to get there.” I bring this up because our youth need to be assertive enough to challenge the psychic barriers which exist in others who are racist and who try to impose their image of who we are and can be upon us. Do not let them do that.
To Blanca Alvarado, I say, “Many of us are ‘doing something about that racism’ by development of our full potential, which amazes many.” We simply must not let others determine who we are and who we become. Even when it surprises you, and them. For there to be equal access to opportunity each of us needs to ‘go for it’ when it’s appropriate. Success and becoming ‘well-off’ is very satisfying especially when you realize that many are ‘doing something about it’.