Are We Still "Us" Versus "Them"?

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

Some time ago a page-one headlines in The Valley Morning Star (Harlingen, Texas) read “Texas Hispanics behind half of state’s growth since 2010.” Instead, why wasn’t the headline “White Texans still largest demographic group in Texas,” or “Texas White population continues to drop”? The article went on to differentiate between "Texans" as "Hispanic-Texans" (also referred to as “Texans of color") and "White-Texans."

ARE WE STILL “US” VERSUS “THEM”?

By Al Garcia

Some time ago a page-one headlines in The Valley Morning Star (Harlingen, Texas) read “Texas Hispanics behind half of state’s growth since 2010.”  Instead, why wasn’t the headline “White Texans still largest demographic group in Texas,” or “Texas White population continues to drop”?  The article went on to differentiate between "Texans" as "Hispanic-Texans" (also referred to as “Texans of color") and "White-Texans."

Having served in the Armed Forces and being a Vietnam Vet, I never recall being called a Hispanic Soldier, nor the Hispanic worker while working in a law office in Northern California, or the Hispanic retiree when I finally retired last year.  I hadn’t realized I was still considered a “Texan of color” when I returned to the Valley last year after my retirement.  It offends me, because I had always considered myself an American and a Texan.  Evidently, however, by the way we are perceived and viewed by Texas, I have been wrong all these many years.  And here I had thought the struggles and indignities my parents that gone through in the Valley of the 1940s and 1950s was something now just part of history.

I recall many young Valley residents serving and dying in Vietnam, the majority of them “Hispanic.”  When their obituaries were printed in the newspaper the words “Hispanic Soldier” was not typed in front of their names or underneath their picture.  The reason is quite simple.  Because they were American Soldiers, first and foremost.  And here we are today, page-one headlines dividing us into “us” and “them,” after so many decades of prejudice and discrimination.  When will this end?  When will Americans of whatever ethnicity be able to call themselves simply an American, with no prefix or hyphenated word in front of it?  “White Texans” embrace us when we join their clubs, walk the halls of our Legislature in Austin as an elected official, win state and national political offices, or buy homes in what was once “White Texan alcoves” throughout the Valley.  But the headline I read screamed to me that what I thought had long become obsolete still remains in Texas society today – a culture still steeped in 1940s and 1950s views.  Why couldn’t the headlines simply have read “Texas population continues to grow.”  And as a “Texan” and an “American” I would have welcomed the information and statistics provided, as I sat having breakfast at a local diner in the “Hispanic Texans Only” section of the restaurant.  When will we and others stop looking at the Valley and Texas as a battle between “us” and “them”? 

It's time to move forward not stagnate in mores and behaviors of the past that have no place in the Texas I live in and love.  No need to keep trying to divide us into “us” and “them.”  Isn’t America and Texas a country of “we the people,” not “we the Hispanic-Americans, we the White-Americans, we Asian-Americans, we Black-Americans, etc., etc., etc.?  Isn’t America supposed to be the “melting pot” for all?The article was a very sad commentary on Texas and an even sadder reminder of the hardships and humiliations our parents and their parents before them had to endure and live through to get us to where we are today. I guess we’re still considered “Texans of color” in the eyes of many, even Texas pollsters.  Isn’t “white” considered a color too, and if so, why aren’t “White-Texans” also considered “Texans of Color”?

Our roots may be red, green and white, but our flesh and blood, and very soul, is RED, WHITE and BLUE.


Submitted: June 20, 2021

© Copyright 2021 A.Garcia. All rights reserved.

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