The Face of Racism in America Today

racism-usMy post on Ann Coulter’s comments about Mexican culture resulted in a firestorm of comments on my blog’s Facebook page. I expected that, because her words express such a hatred for Mexicans that they expose her racism. As I looked at the comments, I realized that there is some debate about how to define racism. English is a second language to me and therefore I do not always use English words appropriately. When a debate ensues over the use of a word, I usually default to my English-speaking friends and they set me straight or we debate the use of the word. Most of the time, I accept their counsel.

I still believe that Ann Coulter’s words are racist.

Hold on tight, this blog post is not only going to be long but it will touch on extreme topics that will make many of you uncomfortable. As uncomfortable as the topic is, it needs to be discussed.

Defining Racism

I am always challenged on my use of the word racism, especially by those that disagree with me. The notion, being that you cannot be racist against an ethnicity, as in Mexican citizens, or a culture as in the Hispanic or Latino culture. I have always thought that racism is not about skin color but rather it defines discriminating against an individual because of certain characteristics.

There are two major dictionaries for the “official” English language. Unbeknownst to many of you, my first English lessons were from an English teacher direct from England. My immersion into the English language, on the other hand, came from US television and conversations with US citizens. For the most part, my English is now driven by the US English version.

The Oxford Dictionary is accepted as the British determiner of the use of English words. The Oxford dictionary defines racism as “The theory that distinctive human characteristic and abilities are determined by race” in comparison to another. The Oxford Dictionary credits Richard Henry Pratt as first person to use the word racist in 1902.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the US English authority, defines racism as the “poor treatment of or violence against people because of their race” and “the belief that some races of people are better than others.”

Aha, some of you are gleefully proclaiming, you have been using the word racist wrong! Taking the definition of the word from the dictionaries – it is obvious that the word racist narrowly focuses on race as the determining factor.

We can all agree that humans are grouped into races, although we are all part of the Homo sapiens species. The term race is an extension of the expansion of Homo sapiens across the Earth with the race tag being defined as new distinct cultures were merged into conquerors through colonialism.

Thus “race” is nothing more than an identification tag used to define humans by certain traits or characteristics. The term evolved by colonialism and not because of scientific differentials of the Homo sapiens that we are.

Anthropologists continue to argue about how many “races” there are but generally recognize three or four ethnographic groupings. The three agreed upon are Caucasian, Mongolian and Negroid.

To the great chagrin of Ann Coulter and individuals that subscribe to her reality, Mexicans and most Latinos are Caucasian like her. Of course, humans must compartmentalize things and thus grouping Homo sapiens further leads us to ethnicity.

Ethnicity is the grouping of individuals based on national origin or deriving from a certain culture. There are hundreds of ethnicities with most of them deriving from a common language, culture, religion or even the food they eat. Many of us can argue ad infinitum, about what ethnic group we each belong to because the vast majority of Homo sapiens have comingled and thus very few, almost none can claim a “pure” ethnicity. A pure “ethnicity” probably no longer exists.

What complicates matters even more is that governments view race and ethnicity differently. The United States Census Bureau states that it “must adhere to the 1997 Office of Management and Budget (OMB) standards on race and ethnicity which guide the Census Bureau in classifying written responses” in regards to race.

The US Government, as per the Census Bureau, defines race and ethnicity interchangeably as White, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.

Much to the chagrin of individuals like Ann Coulter, Mexicans fall under the “White” designation as per the US government definition.

As you can see, race and ethnicity can be interchanged as groupings of people. The United States government uses both terms interchangeably. Unfortunately, the United States has also used the term “racial groups” to classify responses to government requests making the definition of race even more nebulous.

To complicate matters even more, we need to discuss “culture” as a further divider of the Homo sapiens species.

Apparently, we cannot all just be human.

Defining Mexican

I need to quickly address the term “Mexican” in order to clear up some misconceptions in contemporary United States public policy discussions. Contemporarily, when using the term Mexican in the United States it is often misinterpreted because the word can define many things. A Mexican can be a citizen of the Republic of Mexico. It can also be used to define a US citizen of Mexican descent. In other words, the term Mexican can define a US citizen, a Mexican citizen or a citizen of both countries. It can also be used to define a culture based on national origin.

Regardless, and this is important, a Mexican, however used, is of the Homo sapiens species that identifies closely with the Spanish language but is nonetheless White in race and ethnicity.

Dissecting Coulter’s Words

I am sure Ann Coulter identifies herself as White by all of the definitions I have discussed so far. I believe that by the same definitions, Mexicans are also White.

As an aside, I am focusing on Mexican today because, although, I am not ignorant that Coulter and her ilk also discriminate against other human groupings she specifically targeted Mexicans in the diatribe I am writing about. I am not ignorant that discrimination involves every Homo sapiens, including the “White” groupings.

Therefore, let us review Ann Coulter’s words. I am using the “America with Jorge Ramos” video that has been making the rounds on social media. If you are so inclined, you can see the actual two-minute video by going to the bottom of my post.

I am going to focus on two specific sentences she uttered.

If you don’t want to be killed by ISIS, don’t go to Syria. Yea, if you don’t want to be killed by Mexican [sic] there is nothing I can tell you.”

After a few seconds of silence, she added,

Very easy to avoid being killed by ISIS, don’t fly to Syria.”

In responding to host Jorge Ramos asking her if there are “people biologically predisposed to commit crimes,” she stated,

No, I think there are cultures that are obviously deficient.”

She went on to state that bringing in cultures into the United States included bringing in “honor killings,” “uncles raping their nieces,” “it includes dumping their litter all over the place,” “it includes not paying your taxes,” “it includes paying bribes to government officials.”

For today, I am focusing on two sentences she uttered. The first one is where she stated that to avoid being killed by ISIS, don’t fly to Syria but to avoid being killed by Mexicans, “there is nothing” she can tell you.

The second sentence is that she believes “there are cultures that are obviously deficient.” She was specifically referring to the Mexican culture.

At the very least, we can all agree that her words makes the argument that Mexicans are more likely to kill you then ISIS terrorists. Coulter also argues that the Mexican culture is “deficient.”

Some of the commentary on my blog’s Facebook post has centered on the notion that I mischaracterized Coulter’s words as racist. The argument being that the term Mexican is not a race.

Why use racism to define Coulter’s words

The two dictionaries that I referenced define the word racist as one who argues that one race is better than another race. I have already established that Mexicans are White, just like Ann Coulter and her ilk.

By ascribing certain deficiencies upon Mexicans and alluding that citizens cannot be protected from Mexicans, Ann Coulter has separated a group of people based on certain characteristics and abilities. (Oxford Dictionary) Coulter has also articulated her belief that her culture is superior to that of the Mexican culture. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

This leaves us with the definition of race. As I have already showed you above, race is subjective and is further confused by its official use by the US Government. Thus, race can be used to define a heritage, a culture or an ethnicity. The US government officially uses the term interchangeably with the others.

Let me bring all of this together for you now.

Racism, in its simplest terms, is arguing that one group of individuals are superior than another based on subjective terms such as economic status, culture, heritage or ethnicity.

However you personally choose to define the term Mexican – ethnicity, heritage or culturally is immaterial because Ann Coulter’s statements diminishes all versions equally.

Ann Coulter’s two sentences are racist by any measure of how the word is defined.

It was intended as racist. It is racist and it clearly shows that Ann Coulter does not want to associate with Mexicans or allow them to live in her country.

Her words proves that Ann Coulter personifies racism in America today.

Note: this topic took me through various digital multimedia exercises: digital graphics, the written word, sound bites and videos. It is such a personal issue for me that I needed to express myself in multiple mediums. I did not respond to Coulter’s various factual inaccuracies in my blog today but I will address them in a video tomorrow.

The video where Ann Coulter makes her statements:

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8 thoughts on “The Face of Racism in America Today

  1. Martin, while I agree with your analysis of coulter, I have to remind you that that racism or discrimination or disparity is not confided to the coulters of the U.S.

    We have our own version of people like her. Right here in El Paso. Everyone has their ignorant or stupid and pompous people.

    The problem in the U.S. Is the economy is terrrrible shape. Then with an ultra liberal administration that is breaking the country. People see the giveaways and their taxes rising higher and high interest each day, the anger builds. It doesn’t help that some Mexicans, as well others, come here and are career criminals. The protests to force conformity to the Mexican culture doesn’t help. I don’t believe would Mexicans sit still while Americans protested in Juarez to force conformity to the American culture.

    Every ethic group has gone through the mill, but the vast majority assimilated. The American culture is not a white thing, it is a blending of religious beliefs, hard work and respect for the law., of course a lot of that has gone by the wayside. But people are fighting hard to return to those values while there is resistance. A leaning towards a Mad Max society with everybody doing their thing. One has to remember, even animals have rules and newcomers have to assimilate. Society needs rule and conformity to survive.

    I can remember seeing only Hispanics and a few blacks standing in front of hardware stores like lowes, Home Depot, etc.,Now the economy is so bad that whites have to wait for a day job. So the arguments and fights start. Over the jobs and wages. A few years ago there was major tension between the Viet Namese Shimpers and the local whites. It really wasn’t about race, it was about not enough shimp. But race was interjected and became the focus. Some white guy kicks your butt, so now every white guy is a demon.,

    Last but not least, we (Hispanics) look a like, LOL. So central and South Americans, Cubans and Puerto Ricans are identified as Mexican. However it depends on where you live. Florida, every Hispanic is Cuban and New York-Puerto Rican.

    When it comes down to it, denigrating others by race or ethics group is the easiest way. It’s hurtful and effective and unites one group against another.

    Anyway, I ignore people like coulter as well as our own Hispanic coulters.

  2. It is a shame that her hatred has found a venue to be voiced. Her hatred is not directed against any single group of people but rather to anyone not like her. I wonder how she is able to contain herself when she is surrounded by her trailer trash racist followers!

  3. For “Never Again,” whoever you might be. Apparently you are one of those folks just like this Coulter person. Misinformed, in the dark, and generally ignorant of reality. How can you say that the U. S. economy is in terrible shape? Where have you been? Unemployment is way down, even in El Paso! The U. S. dollar is at an all time high! The stock market is also at an all time high! None of those things indicate any problems with the economy! Then, you have the gall to claim that this “ultra liberal administration is breaking the country?!” FYI, the current administration is doing its best, despite fierce opposition from a do-nothing Congress to help this country. It is not the fault of President Obama that we have this massive debt (which is smaller today than it was when he took office, by the way), nor that our infrastructure is in such bad shape. I don’t know what you are talking about when you mention things like “giveaways and their taxes rising higher and high interest each day,” and I suspect you also don’t know what you’re talking about. What giveaways? Taxes rising? Only in El Paso. High interest rates? What interest rates? Overall, they are still at an all time low! Ultimately, your obvious lack of information aside, I have to tell you that I am always suspicious of someone who has to use a pseudonym when expressing their opinions on a site like this one. It suggests, at the least, that you don’t want people to know who you are, and at the most, that you are well aware that your ignorance is showing, so you think it is OK to hide your identity. Either way, I’d suggest you inform yourself.

  4. No one has a problem with the artifacts of Mexican culture – food; music; feast days; tequila – because that is what migrants bring with them, like St. Patrick’s Day and corned beef, for all of us to enjoy. It is when they bring their failed state country here that we get angry, like Coulter: the mordida; tax evasion; civic apathy; and welfare living.

    If all Mexicans were like Martin, we’d probably all be working for them.

  5. Nazi stuff really? Who is the racist? You who posted a picture of Ann Coulter surrounded by Nazi symbols or Ann who made the valid point about other cultures destroying America.

  6. Well, someone is feasting on all the spin that being fed to the want-to-believe and facts mean nothing.

    Get away from the spin Meisters and review nonpartisan reports for a real dose of the truth.

    As for my identity, being a liberal worshiper you don’t believe in freedom of speech. It’s MY Choice. You really believe posting your name, if it really is you, gives you creditability, that’s even sadder. Once you avoid the facts and believe your own spin, there’s nothing that can be said or shown to you that will make difference.

    Good luck with the ostrich routine.

  7. I agree with peppers. Culture is a very broad term with many facets. After considering Coulter’s words I don’t believe that she was referring to Mexican culture at large, but rather the political culture of many Mexicans. She is not calling the general values, attitudes, and beliefs of Mexicans as deficient. She is pointing to attitudes and beliefs in relation to governance and their interaction in the political system as not being cohesive with US political culture. As an example, my family once employed a Mexican housekeeper (with proper work permits). My mother worked for a federal government agency. One day, after my mother and the housekeeper were having a conversation about work and family, the housekeeper asked if I would be entitled to my mother’s position after she retired. My mother explained to her that that is not how it works here, and that, generally, promotion in the civil service system is merit based. Needless to say, the housekeeper was perturbed that I wouldn’t be next in line for the position. The housekeeper was a very kind lady, whom we entrusted to care for our household and my ailing grandmother. She had extraordinary principles and values, but her views on nepotism and merit-based advancement in the bureaucracy flied in the face of generally accepted practices in US political culture. In this sense (And, in this sense ONLY), I would say that her attitudes and beliefs were deficient. Of course, this is just one example, but evidence of the pervasiveness of this type of civic culture abounds. And, therein lies the problem of illegal immigration to which Coulter alludes. Immigrants to this country are ingrained with the political customs of their home country. If they do not take the opportunity to acclimate to our political culture, they will act in accordance with what they know. Many of those customs are incompatible with how we do things here, and that is a deficiency, especially if their goal is to try to improve their lot in life.

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