Issue #55 (March 1986)
Re — The article "Hispanics" by Wes Hight, in Issue #53.
I have lived five years in Latin America and in general I agree with him. I can't see why anyone would consider his essay racist. Mr Hight reported and interpreted what he observed. People may not like what he said but to ignore it is worse. I am a physical scientist but I have learned to respect anthropologists and I prefer to have one with me when working in a developing country. They keep me from being a complete fool and I do the same for them.
In Peru, when something broke down the Peruvian would comment "hecho in Peru." When I returned to the US in 1981 I found that our available equipment was as bad. There was no need for Peruvians to put themselves down. They figure they are pretty good to sell so much junk to rich Americans.
This self-putting-down is not part of the way of life of Argentina, Brazil, and some other Latin countries. It appears to be concentrated in Central America and northwest South America.
Poles, Germans, French, et al, were Americanized by having to "fish, cut bait, or get out of the boat," according to their interests and abilities. The system was harsh but efficient; and by and large the ethnic groups succeeded at Americanization.
Minorities are forever minorities, once they are so labeled. Making allowances for them only results in their using the allowances for not fishing, cutting, or getting out. Why should they do anything constructive when even the loving is free? Telling they are incapable of progress without allowances only reinforces their poor opinion of themselves.
I no longer have the citation available, but not too long ago I read about the effectiveness of allowances. As long as the allowances were in place the specific minority did as well as the population as a whole. When the allowances were withdrawn the minority promptly reverted to old standards. Allowances do not insure progress.
In Nine Nations of North America, Joel Garreau cited a study that 75% of Hispanics (from Mexico) do not want to live in the US, even legally. They only spend the time necessary to earn money to live comfortably back home.
The best thing would be to tell the Hispanics that if you want to be American, cut the emotional umbilical cord to homeland (very difficult to do) and act American. If the Hispanics want to return home, that is also well and good and Peace be with you. But don't ask to be Americanized while you have the return ticket in your pocket.
Spanish should be taught and spoken because it is a living language and beautiful. It should not be used with the idea that the speaker is too dumb to learn English.
Santa Rosa, CA
Santa Rosa, CA