"To be a negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time." - James A. Baldwin
I am known as the angry Latino. The cantankerous Dominican. The sole curmudgeon in Latino media that seems to be tilting at windmills. A dangerous man with nothing to lose. So I rage against the machine almost all the time, but not without the expected pushback from people you'd think would be on my team and understand my righteous indignation.
Recently, a Latino Donald Trump supporter (sadly, they exist) said I have a chip on my shoulder about everything and a Latina liberal agreed -- obviously because there is little difference between the two since a lot of them tend to be neoliberal or neoconservative. I actually agree with both of them, but for different reasons. I do have a chip on my shoulder about absolutely everything.
I despise the prison industrial complex because it disproportionately affects people of color:
• Together, African American and Hispanics comprised 58 percent of all prisoners in 2008, even though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately one quarter of the US population.
• According to Unlocking America, if African American and Hispanics were incarcerated at the same rates of whites, today's prison and jail populations would decline by approximately 50 percent.
I hate the Health Care Industry because it treats Latinos, especially immigrants, like lower than animals:
We find that, overall, immigrants have lower rates of health insurance, use less health care, and receive lower quality of care than U.S.-born populations; however, there are differences among subgroups. We conclude with policy options for addressing immigrants' vulnerabilities.
I hate the Board of Ed because of the way it keeps failing Black and Latino students and time after time they switch up the curriculum with pet projects (such as charter schools) that when applied throughout don't work:
Minority students, to an overwhelming degree, disproportionately attend underfunded and under-resourced schools.80 The result is that students whose families already face hardship are placed at an even greater disadvantage. For example, according to the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), in schools where more than three-quarters of the students were classified as low-income, "there were three times as many uncertified or out-of-field teachers in both English and science."81
I hate that way the wage gap affects Latinas more than anybody else in this country:
A persistent gender-based wage gap continues to harm women, their families and the economy. On average, women in the United States are paid just 78 cents for every dollar paid to men.1 For Latinas, the gap is larger. Latinas in the United States are paid, on average, just 56 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.2 When women lose income, their economic security and that of their families is diminished.
I hate the fact that newsrooms are slow to hire Latinos (or people of color in general) and the first ones to go are Latinos when they downsize:
According to the 2014 ASNE newsroom minority survey, mainstream news media has lost 766 Hispanic news professionals since 2007, when the recession and disruption from online media sent legacy media profits tumbling. Put another way, the number of Hispanic news professionals has declined 32 percent during the last six years, or 2,403 in 2007 to 1,637 this year.
I hate how they treat Latino children running away from poverty, gang violence and death and because of poor grasp of concepts of names or circumstances (like war, for instances) they're not considered refugees even though the threat of death is the same:
A morgue director in the city Honduran city of San Pedro Sula told The Los Angeles Times that "at least five, perhaps as many as 10" children killed there since February had been deported from the United States.
I hate police brutally (and I hate the violent thugs who get away with ravaging our communities just the same) because we're most likely victims of it but we get little media attention, among other things:
"Violence or discrimination against Latinos does not tend to resonate among most Americans because Latinos are generally not perceived as Americans but recent immigrants or foreigners with no deep roots and histories in the U.S.," Frances Negrón-Muntaner, the center's director and the lead author of the study, told The Huffington Post. "So, abuses of power or injustices toward Latinos remain out of sight and out of mind."
The war on drugs hurt more people of color than any other people and for that I have an issue with it:
From 2006 to 2012, more than 60,000 people died as a result of drug-related violence in my parent's home country of Mexico. In New York, Latinos are arrested at nearly 4 times the rate of whites for marijuana even though Latinos and whites use at comparable rates. And from 2008 to 2014, one-quarter of a million people were deported for nonviolent drug offenses, some due to low-level infractions like marijuana possession.
I have an issue with gentrification not just because it affects poor people but add color to that and off you go to being relocated:
The study implied that Latino neighborhoods are more likely to be gentrified in the traditional sense (i.e., young white newcomers moving into the area). And they are also more likely to receive the theoretical benefits of gentrification (e.g., urban renewal and municipal investment). No word, however, on what happens to Hispanic residents when the bulldozers get revved up.
I have an issue with Hollywood, the publishing industry, the media... because they either portray us negatively or erase us.
I could go on and on and on about all the issues I hate and all of them are actually verifiable facts with studies to back them up and some people are still sucking their thumbs because they can't see beyond their little world and what they think affects them personality. There's a reason why racism and discrimination is called systemic. It means it happens everywhere with everything. So yes, I have an issue with injustice everywhere. Not just the injustice that I think affects me. Having the chip on the shoulder about it makes me the normal one here. Not the folks who are apathetic to most things or only care about things that are trending.
When you are only indignant about what affects you and yours you're no better than those who don't care about what affects you and yours. I don't need people to tell me what I should or shouldn't care about or that I'm misguided in my indignation when I have a better understanding of civilization than my critics. If you're going to give me any constructive criticism at least let it be tangible and not based on your limited understanding of how the world runs. [If you do happen to work as a representative of Latinos, African American or any other maligned group in this nation and still have an issue with someone like me who actually speaks about things that affect us all in different landscapes, Lord help us all. You're more of a danger to our people than someone like me who actually has an issue with the entire rotten system. It's not me. It's you.]
Yes, I am angry. So call me what you will. Vilify me. Make those phone calls so I can be dropped from panels, galas and award shows. Call that brand, agency, network, multicultural department or campaign management so they don't work with me. Don't publish my scathing manifestos against systemic discrimination and shelve it under "needs to be toned policed" and "doesn't work well with others due to an immense disrespect toward respectability politics." Do all of that. I've been called everything under the sun and equally dismissed for making others uncomfortable (because they're using even some of our own who come willingly to destroy us while pretending to be community servants or Latino leaders), but you can't accuse me of being wrong or misguided -- because I am neither. I am right.
My indignation is valid. There's a systemic war against our people. So why aren't you mad?
César Vargas is a writer, producer, activist and social media PR and marketing strategist. He founded UPLIFTT (United People for Latinos in Film TV and Theater) and is president of Burning Ones Productions. His op-eds have been published on Fox News Latino, NBC Latino, as well as his own blog at upliftt.com. He was named 40 under 40: Latinos in American Politics. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @CesarVargas365 and Facebook: www.facebook.com/CesarVargas365.