On September 28, 2004, a 25-year-old Hispanic coworker affected me greatly when he expressed his true feelings about America, race relations, and national allegiances. His family legally migrated from Nicaragua prior to his birth, and although he was born in America, his commitment to America, if any, was quite different from my own.
Considering the election year is at hand, wed always kid each other about party affiliations and the shortcomings of each others candidates; he being quite liberal and me being logical and conservative. Yet, I didnt get to fully understand the extent of his beliefs until we worked-out in our gym one day. We generally enjoy each others company and hes a pretty nice guy, but what he revealed to me in that short hours time was astounding and quite shocking to be honest. Here is what I was able to gather about his perceptions:
- Besides money, he and his family had little affiliation or affection towards traditional America. He told me that the founding fathers and white America were foreign, European concepts that held little value for him and his family.
- Michael Moores Fahrenheit 9/11 movie is his main source of criticism, information, and debate-ammunition against Republicans, Bush, and conservatives. He quotes it religiously (Hes a Jehovahs Witness, strangely enough).
- White Americans stole America, and brown-skinned people shouldnt and wouldnt embrace traditional American ideals.
- He was against the Republicans because they represented the traditional white America that he despises. Even after showing him my voter registration card that clearly stated my unaffiliated status, his bias towards whites made it impossible to believe that I was not racist like the rest of the Republicans he knew were.
- The Democrats give more stuff away so he is for them.
- Whites would soon be a minority with the great influx of Spanish-speaking immigrants. He took great pride in relaying this statistic; he seemed quite happy when this portion of the conversation took place. I reminded him that the countries Hispanics flee from in droves already have Hispanic majorities.
- He told me that, out of the 4 Hispanics in our department, 3 were racist. He also thought that 11 out of the 12 white employees were racist.
- The 1 racist Hispanic he mentioned was, ironically, racist because she was married to an Hispanic, but frequently professed her attraction to white men. Apparently, if someone embraces diversity and directs it towards anything white, they are a racist coconutbrown on the outside, white on the inside.
- He was not a racist because he was part of a minority and had no real power to exercise control over others. I reminded him that upon gaining a brown majority, by default, his views would become racist.
- Rush Limbaugh, who practically everyone at work listens to, is brainwashing us whites into thinking as he does. I reminded him that before Rush, all conservatives could do to voice their concerns was shout at the television while watching the liberally biased McLaughlin Group. Weve thought the way we do before Rush; he is simply echoing our concerns. He wasnt buying it.
This coworker and I talked openly to each other about this touchy issue and I respect that much about him. He is out front with his beliefs, and so am I. For most younger people, a young age tends to facilitate a liberal mindset, and Im sure age plays a major role in his perceptionsperceptions I hope will change over time. However, his version of liberalism is like none Ive ever experienced before. The America he wishes to embrace doesnt have people like me in mind. The America he desires highlights the potential disunity that awaits us all.
On Friday, October 1, 2004, I moved into another office area. Im sitting right next to this coworker, 2 other Hispanics1 being the racist female Hispanicand 1 Bolivian-American that was once offended when I made a joke about Communism. Hes said that he will convert me sure enough (although, from his own comments, Id have to get a skin transplant and Spanish lessons for this to occur). Ive told him I will convert him sure enough. We laugh, but, honestly, the stakes are high and Americas future teeters on the outcome.
Regardless, I vow to prevail in my coworkers conversionI will listen to conservative talk radio every day, all day, as Ive always done, and make him listen to it. Either Ill succeed, or, hell quits under the mental pressure of the truth. Until then, well have to agree to disagree.