“Hyphen-Nation”

Bucktowndusty, This Week with the Swings, Oct. 3

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, we’d always kid each other about party affiliations and the shortcomings of each other’s candidates; he being quite liberal and me being logical and conservative. Yet, I didn’t get to fully understand the extent of his beliefs until we worked-out in our gym one day. We generally enjoy each other’s company and he’s a pretty nice guy, but what he revealed to me in that short hour’s 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 Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 movie is his main source of criticism, information, and debate-ammunition against Republicans, Bush, and conservatives. He quotes it religiously (He’s a Jehovah’s Witness, strangely enough).
  • White Americans stole America, and brown-skinned people shouldn’t and wouldn’t 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 coconut”—brown 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. We’ve thought the way we do before Rush; he is simply echoing our concerns. He wasn’t 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 I’m sure age plays a major role in his perceptions—perceptions I hope will change over time. However, his version of liberalism is like none I’ve ever experienced before. The America he wishes to embrace doesn’t 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. I’m sitting right next to this coworker, 2 other Hispanics—1 being the racist female Hispanic—and 1 Bolivian-American that was once offended when I made a joke about Communism. He’s said that he will convert me sure enough (although, from his own comments, I’d have to get a skin transplant and Spanish lessons for this to occur). I’ve told him I will convert him sure enough. We laugh, but, honestly, the stakes are high and America’s future teeters on the outcome.

Regardless, I vow to prevail in my coworker’s conversion—I will listen to conservative talk radio every day, all day, as I’ve always done, and make him listen to it. Either I’ll succeed, or, he’ll quits under the mental pressure of the truth. Until then, we’ll have to agree to disagree.

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