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graphic of a paintbrush
Never thought I'd find space in my heart to thank Ann Coulter for anything. Then she decided to label Latinos "the lazy underclass."

Good job, Republican racist.

Way to go ... right after an election where Latinos voted for Barack Obama in overwhelming numbers. You will be starting off a new year soon on the same old right-wing foot and frankly I'm elated. Not about your racism—which disgusts me, but keep on spewing what you really think about Latinos.  

Oh, a few of you think we will forget when your party attempts to push some token Hispanic surnamed person to the forefront (like Marco Rubio—the Krauthammer approach), but it won't work. The future of Latinos voting for Republicans will suffer a larger brown-out each year.  

Not only do we hear you use the "I" word all the time, we can add in the "L" word.  

No—Latinos are not lazy. Nor shiftless, nor any other pejoratives you can come up with to slur an entire demographic.  

There is a long history of racial/ethnic stereotyping of Latinos.

Hispanics have been portrayed by the media as lazy, unintelligent, greasy, criminal, and alien. Their contributions culturally, economically, and historically have never been properly documented or appreciated. Instead, Hispanics in general, and American Hispanics in particular, have been the victims of racist stereotyping in an unbroken string of images and portrayals that began with the battle over Mexican land in the Southwest as America expanded during the frontier era.
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A steady diet of Latino hate is fed by Fox Spews, pundits and shock jocks, and is reenforced by pseudo intellectual racists like Charles Murray, who gets a platform from which to pontificate from major news venues. Of course Coulter cites him in her "El Tipping Pointo" piece.

Ummm ... sorry Miz Coulter, but Spanish for point is punto. Your language bigotry is duly noted. So is your use of yet another "I" word—"illegitimate," when discussing children and birthrates.

There are no illegitimate children.  

Of course Romney liked to throw his fluency with Spanish around too. Fail.

This isn't just about the last election cycle.

I haven't forgotten this comment that was made by equal opportunity bigot and prospective appointee Henrietta Holsman Fore during the Bush years. The difference between then and now is we, on the left, are doing a better job making sure these kind of statements are challenged and disseminated to our voters.

Bush’s New USAID Nominee: Hispanics Are ‘Lazy’

[...] in a letter to the college newspaper, Ms. Holsman reiterated her statement that she had trouble keeping black assembly-line workers from going “back to the street to earn more money” selling drugs

In her lecture, Ms. Holsman also said she had found Hispanic workers to be lazy, white workers resentful of having to work with machines, and Asians, while very productive, likely to move on to professional or management jobs.

We've come a long way from the percentages of Latino votes received by Republicans during the G.W. Bush years. Bueno. That downward trend shows no chance of reversing in the near future either. However this is no time for complacency. We also have to ensure that issues that have a major impact on Latino communities across the U.S. are dealt with by our party. Part of that process must be a drive to get more TeaPublicans out of the house in 2014. We must also highlight the official Republican Party Platform as it refers to latinos/immigration. We have to pass comprehensive immigration reform, the Dream Act, a jobs bill, and better education policies.  

I'm joyful that the Latino vote is increasing. Massive voter registration drives, and GOTV efforts are making a difference, and will continue to do so. But we have to pay closer attention to orchestrated voter disqualification of Latinos, which Greg Palast discusses in Latinos–too lazy to vote?

According to the New York Times, it’s first and foremost the Latinos’ “entrenched pattern of nonparticipation.” In other words, they’re just lazy, don’t give a taco, and treasure their siesta more than their vote. Nowhere in the long, front-page article does the Times writer veer from the racial profile of Chicanos as unengaged if not hostile to registering to vote. If the Times checked the stats instead of relying on stereotypes from an old Cantinflas movie, it could have found from the detailed survey by the US Census Bureau that white voters are one-third more likely than Hispanic voters to say they don’t register because of disinterest. Indeed, the statistical survey shows Hispanics the most committed of any ethnic group to attempting to register. While the Times article tediously quotes those Hispanics who say their vote won’t make a difference, the Census shows that whites express that view twice as frequently as Hispanics. The biggest problem identified by Hispanic citizens themselves in registering is “difficulty in English.” D’oh! The Times no piense de eso, los chingates.

But there’s another explanation for the drop in Hispanic voter registration: Hispanics do register, by the millions—only to have their registration forms rejected, or, if they sneak onto the rolls, have their names purged. And The Times said nothing about the Purge’n General, Donetta Davidson, who removed one in five voters from the registry when she was Colorado’s Secretary of State.

The Times, if their reporters weren’t too lazy to check the facts, would find out that the majority of registration forms submitted by legal voters of color in California had been rejected. For several years, Hispanics have filled out the forms and the state has thrown them out. It was the Republican Secretary of State Bruce McPherson who rejected nearly half (42 percent) of new registrations out of hand in California, over fourteen thousand voters in LA County alone. (He didn’t, by the way, bother to tell the voters. He wanted to make it a surprise on Election Day.) Only the County of Los Angeles questioned this alleged avalanche of phony voters. The county called each rejected voter and every one reached was in fact legit, but their names were input wrong by the state clerks or simply rejected as “suspicious” to the GOP official. (NB: Asians vote Democratic, and their registration rates are worse than for Hispanics.)

Racist demagogues, bloated with Hispanophobia, can be found throughout the U.S. I'll never forget my students' reactions, and discussion when I showed this trailer from 9500 Liberty in class.

The film opened up a wide-ranging discussion of the role Latinos play in our economy, and the way anti-Latino (and anti-immigrant) racism can be used to manipulate voters.  

We need to get this film, and others like it wider distribution.

This isn't just political for me. I take it personally. Every day I watch my husband get up at 5 AM and head off to work. He has a two hour commute (one way). He works full time during the week, gets home some nights at 10PM, and then works as a musician on the weekends. He is not lazy. He's one of "those" Latinos from the projects of New York.

I was thinking just yesterday of an old friend who has died, working hard right up until her death. Aida started out her work life in a garment district sweatshop factory in NYC, making stuffed animals. Visibly worried about her children, the factory owner got her a sewing machine to work from home. Aida placed the machine by the front window of her apartment in the projects so that she could keep an eye on her children in the playground below. She took in sewing from neighbors, made doll dresses, crocheted and knitted, and never took a day off to rest. Her children went on to college, and one founded a small business. She was always working.

In my mind I hear the opening words from my dear friend, and Nuyorican poet laureate Pedro Pietri's poem Puerto Rican Obituary, which could apply to all Latinos, not just Boricuas.  

They worked
They were always on time
They were never late
They never spoke back
when they were insulted
They worked
They never took days off
that were not on the calendar
They never went on strike
without permission
They worked
ten days a week
and were only paid for five
They worked
They worked
They worked
and they died
They died broke
They died owing
They died never knowing
what the front entrance
of the first national city bank looks like

All died yesterday today
and will die again tomorrow

Pedro's poem speaks of the lavaplatos (dishwashers) porters, messenger boys, factory workers, maids, stock clerks, shipping clerks, assistant mailroom assistants ... and I sit here today and think of the farm workers who harvest the food I eat, and the SEIU union workers I am close to who work hard on their jobs in hospitals and nursing homes while also organizing and doing voter registration. Some of my Latino friends and family are teachers, and lawyers, and first generation middle class, but most are still rooted in the working class. I'm sure there are some Latino elites, but I don't know any.

The broad brush of right wing bigotry paints them all into a box. Signed, sealed and delivered in indelible ink.    

There are many ways to fight racism, and bigotry. There are many Latino organizations, and other civil and human rights groups that are doing so. The bottom line in the struggle against it, for me, is education.

Book cover: Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America, Juan Gonzales
It is imperative that all of us learn more about our fellow citizens who are lumped into the Latino/Hispanic grab bag. We need to understand their histories, and how these groups arrived (early or late) to the U.S. I highly recommend reading "Harvest of Empire," by Juan Gonzales, who said about his book:
[T]he central theme of my book is that…you cannot understand the enormous Latino presence in the United States unless you understand America’s role in Latin America, and in fact that the Latino presence in the country is the harvest of the empire. It is the result of more than a century of domination of many of these countries. And in fact, those countries that were most dominated by the United States are the ones that have sent the most migrants to this country. And Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, [El] Salvador, Guatemala, these are the countries that have provided the bulk of the migration from Latin America, largely many of them fleeing from the civil wars, as in the cases of Guatemala and Nicaragua and El Salvador, in which the United States government played a key role in backing one side or the other, others coming here as a result of the needs of American businesses that established migration and recruiting, actually recruited people to come here to fill jobs—that’s more so in the case of the Puerto Ricans and the Mexicans. And so, in essence…the mass migration flows of Latin Americans to this country were a direct response to the needs of the empire. Most Americans are not aware of that, because most Americans don’t even think of our country as an empire.

[W]hat I’ve tried to do in the book is chart how each of the different Latino groups came, what was happening in their country that forced them to leave…what cities did they first arrive in, how did they establish their communities, what kind of hostility or welcome did they meet when they arrived in these various cities around the country, and basically tried to…paint a picture, the human picture, of how it was that this country is now facing this enormous explosion of Latino population..  

Harvest of Empire is now a documentary film. If you haven't seen it, it's available online.

Learning history is key. So is documenting and refuting current day bigotry.

No, Miz Ann.  

Latinos are not lazy, and none of us—latino, black, white, native american or asian, are going to stand silently by and let you or any of the rest of your bigot brigade get away with your smears.  

We will however assist in helping Republicans paint themselves right out of the political picture.

Our palette is a rainbow.

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 08:00 AM PST.

Also republished by LatinoKos, Barriers and Bridges, Black Kos community, and In Support of Labor and Unions.

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