How a redneck learned to love Latinos

How a redneck learned to love Latinos

The dreadful sound of little, innocent children's intense wails emanating from their precious souls as they were yanked from their loved one's arms will not leave my consciousness. The released audio tape of these soul screams and the cruel laughter of their cold-blooded captors this week was deeply imprinting and beyond troubling. These sounds still echo around in my head. My tears have dried and been replaced by a simmering, righteous anger that will never  leave me. My America is now a place that tortures and damages little children and then snickers. This is making America great? Made me travel back in time as I recalled how and why I carry with me such a deep love, respect, and admiration for the Mexican people and Latinos. A bloke from redneck land who loves Latinos? Yep, that would be me.

While attending Western Washington University a million years ago, it was required that I take and pass a class from a list of ethnic studies. I picked Latin American Studies. This single class changed my life and expanded my limited view of the world.

The professor was a dynamic teacher and sparked my interest in a subject I would have never been aware of without this requirement. Because of taking this beginning class, I became an expert of sorts about Latin America. I ended up with a minor in Latin American Studies, became semi-fluent in Spanish, and ended up traveling in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Costa Rica. I lived as a native Mexican in various parts of the country for ten months in the early 1970's.

My traveling mate and I did not stay in fancy resorts nor did we visit merely border towns. Our first stop was Guadalajara, a large city deep in the heart of our southern neighbor. We rented modest places near the people throughout our travels to places with exotic names like Zipote, Yelpa, Zihuatanejo, Playa Azul and Oaxaca. I left Mexico with a deep love for the Mexican people who lived under a corrupt hacienda system that still exists to this day. I was continually impressed at their work ethic, their humor, their friendliness, and love of life against many odds. I remember when presented with the list of possible classes, Latin American Studies umped out at me for I had heard Spanish spoken in baseball dugouts in my hometown as an impressionable young bat boy for the minor league pro team. The unusual, rapid-fire sounds had intrigued me.

Now flash forward to today. We have many migrant workers of Mexican and Latino descent who work in the Northwest fields picking asparagus, Walla Walla sweet onions, berries and the massive apple, peach and pear crops. Without their labor the state of Washington would not be the agriculture powerhouse it is. All the residents of Washington benefit from a thriving agricultural business. Latin American workers create prosperity for all the state, especially the Eastside. I picked apples for two autumns when I was a fit young guy and could not keep up with the workers whose dexterity and endurance were beyond impressive.

On my frequent trips to Arizona before I began my boycott of the racist state, I would see the Mexican or Latino workers grooming the golf courses I was lucky enough to be able to play. They watered and cut the fairways where my golf ball came to rest, mowed the greens precisely that I putted on, and raked the sand traps before each round. I would see groups laughing and listening to their happy music as they loaded up supplies and carried them on their strong backs to the new million-dollar homes being constructed on the golf courses in the Phoenix area. As most people hid in their air-conditioned homes during days of 110+ degree heat, there they were out working. I would see them putting on roofs as the sun blazed down on their brown skins glistening with sweat. I would call out to them in my accented Spanish, on occasion, which they always seemed to appreciate.

I have heard all the racist, ignorant comments about how lazy Latinos are; how criminal they are; how ungrateful they are and well, you can add the rest of the false stereotypes.

These asinine kind of statements were widely circulated before Dense Donnie Trump. But the moron took them to another disgusting, outrageous level in his corrupt, rigged march toward his White House election (or was it simply a selection?) as the media followed his every move for the ratings and Internet clicks were good for business. He added in the key racist word—rapists—for that always has great appeal to the simpleton white—whatever the hell that means—old bastards who support this supernova of stupidity who is playing El Presidente at this moment. But how about a reality check?

The poverty south of our border is astonishing and sad. I saw little boys sleeping on benches using newspapers as blanket replacements at night and little girls selling pumpkin seeds or packets of Chiclet gum during the day when they should have been at school.Mexican workers or laborers from places like El Salvador where climate change has destroyed their main cash crop—coffee—and thus most employment opportunities, come to the states to better their lives and their children's future. Big crime, huh? Trying to improve their lives and care for their children.

They send money home to their families who really, really need it. Western Union makes handsome profits from Mexicans who wire transactions which is merely one of the many reasons companies benefit from our anything-but-new slave class. America has a long, shameful history of needing a low, slave-like class to torment and use as scapegoats. The Italians, Chinese, Native Americans and of course Blacks have all served the purpose and enriched the ruling class at various times.

Now, in this horrid Trump era, the Latinos are the most obvious and available targets.

The prisons-for-profit crooks are dependent on our Latin American brothers and sisters for incarcerating undocumented workers is a thriving business. They keep those beds filled. In fact, these companies have become so successful that they are included in almost all mutual funds. You might even be an unknowing recipient yourself. I suggest checking your portfolio for making money off the misery of others who are locked away is immoral and nasty.

There are thousands of examples of how the status quo benefits from our supposed immigration “problem”. I enclose the word with quotation marks because the situation is only a “problem” to the racists who need someone to look down on. All people, every single one, who support Trump are supportive of racism and ancient race baiting. The most overt racist in history is in charge of our country and those who support the evil bastard are just as racist. Period.

Yeah, I didn't stutter. Latin American workers— and by damn they do work— care for our elder citizens, act as nannies for many of our children, harvest the majority of our crops, and excel at our national pastime—baseball. For their hard work and dedication what do they get? Boneheaded statements like: “They're stealing our jobs!”

First off, if some guy has hopped the fence with only the clothes on his back, possibly even barefoot, doesn't speak the language, has no education, and steals your job then you are a total loser to begin with. Plus, it's all nonsense, you damn ancient-thinking racists. I dare you to go out and pick apples or peaches in Yakima, Washington someday. I flipping dare you for I know most racists wouldn't last more than three days doing such physically challenging work.

Want to work for the Phoenix power company digging trenches to repair lines during the August heat? The racist chowder heads would be screaming for their mommies by noon of the first day. Latino workers do jobs that most American can't or refuse to do. I, for one, appreciate and admire their efforts. We all should say a word of thanks every time we go to the grocery store. The abundant food choices and low prices are a result of our Latino friends' poorly compensated labor.

The sickening, insincere way politicians play this immigration game is beyond belief. The Republicans act like their ex-slave owning ancestors, screaming about the brown illegals while hiring them at half-price to build things for their construction businesses so they will not have to pay union wages and provide benefits that they should offer but never do. 

Go to a lunch meeting at a fancy golf course in Scottsdale and listen to the featured racist mouthpieces as they voice their fake concern for the immigration “problem.” But don't forget to look out the window and see a Latin American worker mowing the grass. Don't forget to smile at the Mexican waitress who brings you your second margarita. Oh, and be certain to give each speaker a standing ovation.

There are other alternatives if one is concerned about immigration. I mentioned El Salvador so let's take a moment on that one small country. Climate change has killed most of the coffee plants that used to provide the majority of jobs there. 

The scientists are trying to develop new drought-resistant plants but it takes time and money. Imagine you are in that country with a wife and several kids to support. What do you do? Watch your family beg or starve? There is no work on the coffee plantations for the plants are dead. Couldn't the rich United States pump some money into developing new plant species rather than build a damn wall? But it will never happen because people from El Salvador are throw-away humans to wackos like Trump. Defective, brown-skinned subhumans living in a what Trump describes as “shithole” countries that are not worthy of our help or compassion.

So, we create climate change and when our poorer neighbors suffer from the changes, we turn away, and scapegoat the desperate workers who head north.

Trump wants a border wall. It is pure theater; all part of the Trump Crime Family's non-stop reality show. This narcissistic know-nothing is willing to use children as props to make his glory as the King of the Stupids stay alive with the racists. America now has concentration camps and forget trying to use pretty language to cover it up. We really are becoming the Great Satan of the world with this evil madman and his white supremacist nutcases in charge. A flipping border wall is so stupid, so laughable, and so unnecessary. And the fools have forgotten Dense Donnie's vow that Mexico would pay for it!

I once watched a Mexican bus driver on a long trip pull out an engine on an isolated road outside of Oaxaca and repair it on the spot almost by himself joking, laughing, and smiling the entire time. Any fool who thinks a fence will keep resourceful, strong, motivated people out is kidding himself. They will go over, around, or under the damn thing in minutes. Many die each year in the desert trying to get here. A silly fence or wall isn't going to stop them. The hilarious thing is that we'd probably have to hire Latin American workers to build the damn thing, anyway.

This isn't about a wall or fence. Come on, we all know what the real reason is. Trump and his old, white worshipers want to fight the obvious future and it won't work. America is going to be a people of color majority in a couple of decades and the racists are going to fight it all the way. To them, America must stay white. If brown-skinned people come to America and succeed then who will they have to look down on? It is a great, ignorant, ancient fear and that is where all the emotion comes from on this issue.

There are millions of workers from our southern neighbors being productive in the states. We should give them a chance to become citizens, to pay taxes, and to pay into Social Security. It will benefit us all. There is nothing to fear. If they break the law then punish them like anyone else. If they work hard then reward them like anyone else. They will add to our tapestry and embellish our society for the better. I love their presence.

I almost fell over in laughter when I heard some simp from Alabama proudly preaching about how English is the only language that should be allowed in his state. Oh really? Is that what you call your special accented southern drawl with its grammatically creative quirks? That's English? HA! Y'all need to get real. By the way,what is so scary about Spanish? Oh, I know. Another quote from the south explains it: “If English was good enough for Jesus, then it's good enough for me.”

Let's begin winding down with a story from my favorite spot in Mexico, the lovely mountain city of Oaxaca. I will never forget this scene I witnessed as a 22-year old. A little Mexican cutie, about ten, was selling ice cream from her family's cart near the town center. In her tiny voice she was yelling out: “Consigue tu helado, aquimismo.” (Get your ice cream right here). 

Up to the cart waddled an overweight woman digging in her too big of a purse for some pesos to purchase a refreshing treat on this hot day.

“Give me a strawberry one and hurry it up,” she announced in a deep Texas drawl. 

The little gal got out a cone and put in a scoop of vanilla, smiled, and handed it to her.

“No, no, no! I wanted a strawberry one,” the southern belle bellowed while pushing away the cone. The little one stood confused and after a moment got out another cone and put in a big scoop of chocolate. She tried to hand it to the belle.

“Oh, for Christ sakes! I said STRAWBERRY!” she yelled adding, “why in the hell can't these people learn English?”

Okay stop the music for a minute. We were in Oaxaca, which is hundreds of miles from the nearest border crossing. 

The boorish way this unpleasant woman was acting toward the little girl both angered and amused me. I intervened.

“Retrato de niña, ella quiere una fresa. Voy a tomar el chocolate,” I yelled over as I ambled toward the cart. (“Little one, she wants a strawberry. I'll take the chocolate one.”)

The lady got her strawberry, paid, and without a smile or thank you bustled off. 

“Gracias, señor,” the little one smiled at me. I sat next to her and ate the chocolate one, made faces, and I acted out the fat lady's orders to her in a mocking way. We laughed together.

This experience was a profound snapshot for me. It put in perspective the differences between two very different cultures. 

I left feeling embarrassed to be an American for the first time. That didn't last as I was young yet still wise enough to know that assholes come in all different forms. But what has never left me is my belief that most of what Americans worry about is frivolous, meaningless bunk. Filling your home up with trinkets from Wal-Mart loses some of its luster after you have watched the daily struggles to survive that most Mexicans endure.

I am so glad that my fine university forced me to open my horizons by getting me to take an ethnic studies class. I was a hick baseball player from a Republican home with limited experiences with other cultures. I learned all about Latin America, was able to communicate in another language, and traveled to many exotic places because of this one class.

I discovered this one village called Yelpa on a lark and stayed there for almost two months. I became a regular village presence and ate breakfast at the same restaurant on the beach every morning. The place was run by a busy Mom and her five daughters. They called me Señor Ojos Azules (Mr.Blue Eyes).

I sat down one morning and Mamacita brought me a plate of tortillas wrapped in a hot towel, some coffee, and a platter filled with scrambled eggs, black beans and rice. This was my usual fare. She smiled and returned with a bowl of green sauce. 

“Just for you.”

I put together a tortilla and added the green sauce. A tick later my mouth was on fire. I looked over and there they all were peeking out and suppressing giggles. I will never forget this scene of those laughing, precious bomboncitas. They were what I thought about when I heard the heartbreaking tapes of the screams of little kids being yanked from their loving parents and put into cages in my home country. 

Trump likes to keep things stirred up as his base of nuts needs it to keep involved. The media follows his every move and enables him at every turn. We bounce from one outrage to the next. This one cannot be allowed to bounce out of our consciousness.

Trump and his fellow Nazis are guilty of torturing and damaging children using one of our most basic fears—abandonment. This has to be Trump's birther-like deal. This issue must not die. I urge all liberals to constantly write, talk, discuss and harangue his supporters about their treatment of kids. No squirming away from this one. Donald Trump was in charge when little kids were tortured and put in cages. But it has already started. The term now being used is “child separation”. 

Buzz off with this Orwellian cleansing of the torture of little children. These kids were not momentarily lost on an escalator in a department store. They didn't disappear from sight for a few minutes at the crowded county fair. They were jerked away from their parents and put in blasted cages and then laughed at when they cried or begged for mercy.

And no, don't even try to rationalize it by saying crap like, “Well, kids are resilient. It wasn't that big of a deal.” It was and is a big deal. If over two thousand blonde girls with blue eyes and white skin had been yanked away from their parents and then laughed at and mocked when they cried, this entire country would be in a meltdown. Our televisions might explode. But to Trumpsters, these tortured kids were subhuman, brown-skinned creatures who aren't worth anything and are of no concern to the white imbeciles who are in charge. 

And the really sick thing? Some bastards, like the prisons for profit creeps, are making money off caging our Latin American friends' kids. We are in a battle for the soul and future of this world.

Anyone who supports this evil demonio blanco deserves nothing but scorn. Got to hand it to Trump, though. He is the first person in a long, long time that has me thinking about religion. 

Because of him, I pray that there is a hell.

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