EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the author. A previous version of this opinion piece was published here.
American policy is broken in more ways than one. Refusal of American politicians to compromise represents further damaged systems. Moreover, police officers are the enforcers of law that isn’t always just. Ask yourself: what entry-level position carries more power than a police officer? When you factor in the granted rights of discretion and all of the stress of the streets, any police officer is potentially a ticking time-bomb, at any moment. And just like immigration policy is broken, a system that allows police to kill citizens with impunity must be changed.
Already I’ve lost or tuned out a population of people who don’t want to hear their precious police culture dismantled.
One of the worst aspects of this whole thing is that there’s a population of people in this country who aren’t even listening. They don’t want to listen nor accept that there’s a systemic problem. There’s a population of people in this country that are angry that #BlackLivesMatter even exists. Worse yet, for those who aren’t willing to open their minds—those same individuals are developing a scorn and annoyance with those that are woke; and the ignorant are turning to the other side. Our continued cries for justice are creating stronger police supporters, Donald Trump voters, and further divisions in an already polarized country. They’re the first ones to question what Alton Sterling was doing in the first place; they’ll state how the video doesn’t show the entire story or that Sterling was threatening with a weapon. How can anyone justify this sort of execution that’s already being labeled a legal lynching?
2016 has been a violent year. Police brutality. Mass shootings. Perpetual hate portrayed by Donald Trump; the same Donald Trump that unequivocally put his support behind police officers. (Watch him throw his support behind these officers who viciously ended Alton Sterling’s and Philando Castile’s respective lives.)
No doubt that law enforcement has an incredibly difficult job, no one is denying that. And I’m sure there are ignorant detractors to this argument who will immediately ask, what about “Black on Black” crime? The answers to this are simple: when Black people kill Black people, they go to prison. If you haven’t noticed, we have a nation full of the incarcerated. When police officers—officers who are sworn to protect and uphold the law—kill Black people, they get off. We’ve seen it time and time again. And we wonder why our children are filled with so much rage. Distrust in the system. How can any nation, a nation that touts that it’s governed by law, allow this practice to occur?
The pressure should continue to be applied to the system that lets these cops walk free.
Already, I know, there are policies and procedures in place to make officers think twice about using their guns. However, how can these officers who shot Alton Sterling use their pieces so indiscriminately? The officers knew they were wearing body cameras, which were put into place to hold officers accountable to these sorts of issues. And still, as Alton Sterling becomes a hashtag, how long will it be before another Black man receives the same fate?
Not even a full 24 hours. Rest in peace, Philando Castile.
Does anyone else immediately start shaking when approached by a police officer? It’s because we, as Black and Brown men (sub-groups that are disproportionately affected by the criminal justice system as a whole), are afraid that if we make any move that could be confused for threatening—we’ll be popped.
This is all of the more reason that Latinos need to also join the efforts along with the Black community against police brutality. We’re dictated and live under the same system. We as Latinos are painted as a monolithic block consumed by immigration policy, but we in fact are so much more. What about civil rights? Police brutality is a personal issue to African-Americans, with ties to the days of slavery, just as immigration and stolen land is personal to Mexicans and the Indigenous. Mexicans have been lynched by Texas Rangers just as Blacks were attacked by slave owners and white supremacists. Blacks picked cotton and we pick fruits; what’s so different?
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: the difference between Blacks and Latinos is a boat stop. The same detention officers that put their hands on us are guided by the same law that allows municipal officers to do the same. We’ve both been scarred by colonialism and imperialism. The history, fate, and experience of Latinos and Blacks in this country will forever be intertwined. Our issues are more alike than dissimilar and we need to stand in solidarity with each other. Our issues are one because we’re both seen as second-class citizens in this country. The Latinx community is already woke and non-Afro Latinx & Latino individuals need to jump on board. With the world increasingly changing, different than it was say 20 years ago, and facing new challenges; how can one offer the blunt tool of law enforcement as the solution? What will give? What will it require to stop the bloodshed? Have we as a nation peaked with answers and will this violence become a moot point?
You live by giving. We need to give and stand in solidarity with our Black brothers & sisters who’ve also been taken advantage of by a brutal system of injustice. For if we don’t, how can we expect any change to occur? We can accomplish more together. And when I say ‘we,’ I’m talking to Latinos, Chicanxs, Hispanics, Dominicans, Boricuas, Mexicans, Mexicants, lo que sea; we know who we are and once we find out where we’re going, we’ll be able to make progress.
I look forward to hearing support from the Latino political establishment and the Latinx community for these individuals, their families, and the Black community.
Because something’s got to change. And we cannot remain silent.
Yours in unity.
Máximo Anguiano is an actor, athlete, creative, personality, organizer, scholar, and politico out of San Antonio, Texas. He is the Executive Director of the Adelante U.S. Education Leadership Fund and Founder of Independent Creative Services. Through various community, artistic, and educational works, Máximo’s passion and charisma bring a fresh, progressive and driven approach to changing the world. He has recently been featured with various organizations such as Voto Latino, Latino Rebels, Latino Justice PRLDEF, Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Northern Iowa and many more. He tweets from @blurbsmithblots.
16 thoughts on “OPINION: Latinos Cannot Be Silent to Alton Sterling and Philando Castile”
El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido
This article is a is a joke right. This piece is so uninformed and inaccurate that I’m gonna act like I didn’t see this nonsense. This article is disrespectful to the many Latinxs who put their lives on the line. How many African Americans protest against detention centers? How many African Americans build solidarity when Latinxs get shot by cops? Is the consternation the same? Of course not. Does it make national headlines? Of course not. You know what I’m gonna stop this right here.
I say statt within ur own race….. Stop dealing drugs…stop murdering…stop rape…stop violence period…why dnt they protest against that n make their own wake up so that they can have a bettwr image of who they are n there will be less crime n less arrests n less problems…has to start somewhere…cant sit here n say o e persons to blame it takes a whole race culture group whatever to make a change for the BETTER not do exactly what the perpetrator did…. Maybe less crime the less u have to deal with cops being jumpy n fearing their lives also…
Brilliant article. We should work for union, and get past the past.
Together we will make a difference!
Well blacks are pretty much silent about the immigration issue and the Latinos being Trump’s scapegoats, as the article mentions probably this goes way back to the slavery days and whites owning blacks, truth is blacks and Latinos don’t like each other that much as to join forces, it seems they have to win their battles from their own trenches, because bottom line each group have their own agenda, you can’t simply join forces if you’re not aligned towards the same goal, Latinos want to work, live the American Dream, pay taxes and contribute and blacks want….
Well there you go, just keep adding fuel to the fire of hatred, and because it’s NOT early 1900’s you have to have SOMEONE to blame for the way the world was then, so let’s just blame the VERY PEOPLE WHO WOULD LAY DOWN THERE LIFE for you to protect you, because be honest, you can’t think of ANYONE else to blame, how about start by looking in the mirror, it’s people like you who keep racism and hatred going, you don’t want it to end, it’s a sick thing to poison the minds of other people to try and make them stoop to your low level of insecurity and your HATRED toward others, WE CANNOT CHANGE OUR SKIN COLOR!!!!!!! NOR CAN WE CHANGE HISTORY!!!! We can however decide to accept
that it’s HISTORY and STOP changing the colors around to recycle the past for your own sick “revenge”
Juntos y Unidos si se Puede/Together & United it can be done!
Choose to be seen beyond your color by being colorblind. Choose to not breed ignorance among the masses by recognizing the need for solidarity of all races as citizens and not the ones designated minority. Choose to acknowledge the many multi and bi-racial children and adults you force to devalue by valuing one half of themselves over the other and choose to support the many in all levels of law enforcement that are any and every race in addition to white non-hispanics which after all is now the option they check off on their designated forms no longer simply claiming white. Choose to cast the first stone upon the glass housing where bigotry inequality and injustice dwell within and you will be accountable for unleashing them upon our land. This was a severely disappointing read, disheartening at best, but sorrowful for those you share heritage and or color with rather than dignity and compassion.
Trump has already built his wall, “of hate”. God help us.
You are a joke Maximo! Join the lawless BLM? Take a stand with those that don’t give a rats ass about us! Support the black guy that took the lives of three of my cousins in cold blood. The problem is too many excuses, and black families with no parenting. And don’t be so narrow minded to only vote Democrat, or as you say: “Voto Latino” How about a change? Vote the issues, not the party. Change? You have more Liberal sick ideas: shared bathrooms, anti Christian movement, and grown men dressing in pampers, men and women confused about their sex, open borders, (open Maximos house to strangers) Do us a favor and fix the country of your origin. We can take of our own without all the foreign meddlers. If you’re wondering of my credentials: student, field worker, selling newspapers after school, shining shoes in bars, bad apple in school, spent my summers as a migrant worker, college graduate and 25 years proudly served for my country. That’s my blue collar hard working Mexican American resume. Protecting your rights so that you may crap on us.
What a joke of an article. How can this writer expect to be viewed as credible when he completely ignores the fact that the cop who shot Philando Castile (and then pissed his pants) WAS A LATINO with a long history of service to the Latino community? This is the problem these days, people writing and talking shit without doing even simple investigating.