“Life is all right in America if you’re all white in America.”
These lyrics from the song “In America” from the film “West Side Story” describe racial tensions between Italian-Americans and Puerto Rican immigrants during the mid-1950s, but they also retain significance in today’s society.
Racism toward Hispanics seems to have been rejuvenated with recent events.
There seems to be a consensus that Hispanics are illegal immigrants, which further breeds racism.
Legislation passed in Arizona earlier this year seems aimed at preventing Mexicans from immigrating into the U.S. and deporting the ones who have already done so.
A recent harsh example of racism in America involved student from a Nebraska high school throwing green index cards after winning a soccer game against a largely Hispanic team earlier this month.
This act implied that the Hispanic players on the losing team were immigrants and that their game was impaired because they didn’t have green cards to legally stay and work in the country. Isn’t it ironic that European immigrants don’t face the same discrimination when in this country, too?
Some argue that the U.S. is becoming more “politically correct” with the election of a black president, and a black Republican National Committee chairman. However, with these recent cases of Hispanics facing heightened discrimination, it’s possible that national prejudices remain. The questioning of citizenship and suspicion faced by Hispanics can be compared to movements involving blacks, like the “Back to Africa” movement in the early 20th century.
This was an idea favored by those on both sides of the racial equality issue. While some wanted to get the black population out of America for racist reasons, activists like Marcus Garvey wanted to transport the population to avoid violent racism and obtain better opportunities.
Displays of racism toward immigrants is counter-productive to the general welfare of the U.S., as it prevents them from enjoying the same freedoms and liberties that citizens enjoy.
In a recent Associated Press poll, 81 percent of Hispanics said they felt “a lot” or “some” discrimination.
Lisa Navarette, vice president of the National Council of La Raza, the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S., sees a silver lining in the controversy.
As racism becomes a greater national issue, more people are “recognizing that this community has been singled out and targeted,” Navarette said to the Associated Press.
With national concerns over the oil spill, technology, the economy and the environment, should Americans waste time on subversive racism, too?
Andrea Cunniffe is a junior majoring in psychology.