This is post-racial America- NOT
I’m in the Hampton's with my good friend, a beautifully aged woman with long flowing blonde hair. We are at a gardening store where the faint aroma of flowers fills the lazy air. The sun is warm, perfect for those longing to hear the ocean breeze and lounge near their pools.
I’m wearing a T-shirt and jeans- the usual for such an outing. My friend K is buying plants for her garden and she impresses me with her vast knowledge of perennials and when and how to plant them. I bask in the sun and linger near the front of the greenhouse, where I observe the Long Island residents of such an affluent neighborhood. Women in their skirts and sandals and flowing cotton dresses. Men with their polos and aviator glasses.
A woman in sunglasses and dyed dark red hair approaches me and asks, “Excuse, sir, do you know where I can find the daffodils?”
I look at her for a moment to figure out if she is serious and once I recognize that she is, I say through my teeth, “I don’t work here.”
“I’m sorry,” she says before walking away, presumably to find some other Latinos that fits the bill.
The scenario seems innocuous enough, no? C’mon, everyone makes those kinds of mistakes, someone would say. But somehow the thoughts sink in- that there are assumptions even the most liberal and wealthy of whites make about the current state of Latinos. I’m a Latino so it must mean that I work at a gardening store and what else… fill in the blank. I’m a Latino out of place and time or perhaps a Latino whose place and time should be at gardening stores.
This vignette is not necessarily to bash people working at gardening stores but rather to illustrate the kind of racism I encounter. I’m not sure if it would even fit the bill of a micro-aggressions but it is certainly something.
We now have an administration that just hired a man who has openly allowed racist comments on his news outlet. Yes, I’m talking about Mr. Bannon. It’s important to not allow ourselves to normalize the hiring of a man representing the alt-right to the Oval Office.
If you say, hold on, Ale, give him a chance… I say that I am but that the increase of hate crimes and the things I have seen these past couple of days make my scenario at the gardening store seem like potato chips. If I, an American citizen, feel fear and anxiety about the future of our country, I cannot imagine what undocumented Latinos must be feeling. This is not normal. The alt-right and its white supremacist tendencies must not be legitimized by having them in the administration.