It's up to Latinos to change the racist narrative others tell about us
Opinion: For now, the best answer to the hatred is for Latinos to counter with countless incidents of success.
If tomorrow America woke up and all guns had disappeared, the underlying hatred many have toward Latinos and other “others” would persist.
As I write this, the first few hours of the El Paso shooting have passed. The domestic terrorist accused of the shooting is believed to have authored an anti-Latino manifesto.
Any shooting in America is an unacceptable, heinous act of violence. And we are right to condemn the leaders who have created policies that make it easier for people who should not have guns to acquire firearms.
But this act of terroristic violence is different. It is the violent manifestation of white supremacy emboldened by the racist rhetoric our president has staked his re-election on.
Those who have watched the El Paso news coverage and who have read the manifesto know we have reached a point that was easily predictable from the nationalist, xenophobic language that has become a staple of our president’s Twitter account and rallies.
Laws alone won't quell the hatred
As we watched coverage of the shooting, my wife wept. She wept for the victims and their families. She wept for our country. She wept for her Latino husband and her Latino stepsons.
"You've joined other people of color in becoming targets now," she said.
I could not disagree with her. What made her tears tougher for me is that my wife was a widow when I met her.
As a policy maker, I can continue working toward sensible gun laws. However, quelling the anti-Latino hatred gripping America is tougher. I wish I could tell my dark-skinned friends and family – and my wife – that all is well, but I can't.
For now, I tell them the best answer to the hatred is achieving countless incidents of success.
These stories will counter that narrative
Yes, our individual Latino successes are a middle finger to the emboldened racists.
Every healthy newborn.
Every business started.
Every job created.
Every vote cast.
All of our successes ensure that our collective story is inextricably woven into the great American story. All successes confirm that we Latinos are here to stay. We are contributing. And we are leading.
Stand up, speak up - and vote
President Donald Trump said our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy following two mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso. USA TODAY
I recently had the opportunity to address a group of more than 100 college-bound, mostly first-generation Latino high schoolers. In my remarks, I told them it was their generation that must alter the current course we are on.
I now feel compelled to amend my remarks. It is time for all Latinos to act now with urgency to change the course of our nation.
“They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
To bring love where there is hate.
"… go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came …"
To bring understanding where there is ignorance.
“We’re building a wall between here and Mexico.”
To bring charity where there is greed.
“Why are we having all these people from s---hole countries come here?”
To bring hope where there is fear.
There were “some very fine people on both sides.”
To bring light where there is darkness.
As Latinos, it’s time to change the narrative about us. It’s time to stand up. Speak up. Show up. And, above all, it’s time to register and vote.
Rep. Lorenzo Sierra is a Democrat representing Legislative District 19. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.