After America witnessed the murder, or more appropriately, the lynching of George Floyd, conversations about the treatment of Blacks in America have dominated the national dialogue, and for good reason. However, last week, Andres Guardado, an eighteen-year-old Latino student in Los Angeles, moonlighting as a security guard, was shot in the back and killed by police officers. Guardado is not an anomaly; he is the latest in a long list of Latinos who have also been unjustly killed by law enforcement officers. The event received only modest media coverage, but raises a brewing question: “When is it appropriate to also talk about discrimination against Latinos in America?”
I believe there is a time and place for everything, and the plight of Black Americans is THE issue at hand, and needs to be allowed the time and space to play out. This is not to say that police brutality and other forms of discrimination against Latinos, should take a back seat. They shouldn’t…but it would be stupid and wrong to position this as a competition. The Latino agenda will be better served if we avoid being viewed as akin to the “All Lives Matter” movement, which was obviously a calculated effort to invalidate the Black Lives Matter declaration. We don’t want to fall into that trap. Latinos can, and frankly should, support Black Lives Matter, while simultaneously advocating, raising awareness and freely sharing compelling stories about discrimination against Latinos.
I also believe the subject of discrimination should not be limited to conversations about police behavior. Some of the most devasting discrimination in America is done from an economic standpoint. Discrimination has plagued housing for centuries and remains prevalent in Silicon Valley as well as the boardrooms and C-suites of America’s largest corporations. Economic strength drives political strength in America, not the other way around – or as Tony Montana more eloquently put it “First you get the money, THEN you get the power…”. In my humble opinion, the Black and Latino communities need to acquire a better understanding of this concept, and in the process work more closely together to rid our nation of a four-century long pandemic: Racism.