Ever personally encountered anti-Hispanic racism?

I was out last night at one of my spots where there’s a bartender of Puerto Rican extraction, and he’s very popular with most people because he’s gorgeous, fun and friendly (we’ll call him Carlos).

At the opposite end of the bar, there was an Anglo, white guy sitting there who’s a regular (let’s call him Hank). Normally, he just sits very quietly on his barstool, nursing his drink, minding his own business, never saying boo to anyone.

So last night, Hank suddenly walks over to Carlos’ side of the bar, and starts ragging on Carlos like a banshee! :eek: Shouting, pointing fingers, and later, Carlos tells me that Hank does this to him all the time, giving him a hard time for no reason. It was so weird, because I’ve NEVER seen Hank behave like that. Furthermore, the manner in which this happened - Hank just getting up suddenly at the sight of Carlos and going ballistic at him - tells me that there’s something else going on here.

I suppose it could have been anything - a disagreement about change, overimbibing, who knows? - but my gut tells me that anti-Hispanic prejudice played a big role here.

Why do I say that? I’ve seen a lot of anti-Hispanic racism here from (mostly) Anglo people who get upset that Hispanics speak Spanish to each other ( :rolleyes: ) to this kind of random harrassment which goes on in a very unpredictable manner.

As an Anglo white person, I’m not sure why I don’t share this prejudice, but it always puzzles me, the source of this racial/ethnic/whatever animosity. Can someone explain it to me?

Maybe just the lack of tolerance for those who are “different.”

I was with a Mexican-American guy once, walking past an upscale restaurant when an older white man handed the Mex-Am. guy the keys to his (older white guy’s) Porsche, thinking the Mex.-Am. guy was the valet!! :rolleyes:

It’s sometimes said of Southerners, “They’re still fighting that war” (the Civil War).

Maybe Hank’s still fighting the Spanish-American War? :confused:

IMHO, where I live (Oklahoma), Hispanics are the “new” blacks. It is no longer PC to discriminate against blacks, so some people have transferred that to Hispanics. They (typically) take the low-paying jobs, often don’t speak English at all or very well, and look different. Add all that up, and some rednecks just can’t resist.:rolleyes:

When these whites grew up, they were taught to hate and discriminate against a race. Since they can’t do that as readily anymore, they’ve simply chosen a different, easier target.

I have lived my whole life in Southern California. I have seen a great deal of non-Hispanics acting racist towards Hispanics, Hispanics acting racist towards non-Hispanics and different types of Hispanics acting racist towards one another. It’s no different than any other sort of racism. That is to say it is idiotic and ignorant.


In Mississippi Latinos usually don’t get it as bad as blacks, especially if they speak English. At least in my little corner. I know a white girl from my home town who’s engaged to a Mexican and her daddy’s fine with it, but if she’d brought home a black guy instead he probably would’ve shot him.

That being said, my little half-Cuban cousin was eating lunch with her friends when a boy nearby starting going off on how “those damn spics keep taking all the jobs”, etc. Horrified, she dropped her sandwich and spoke up.

“Excuse me, I’M Cuban!” she told him. “And I don’t appreciate the way you’re talking about us.” He apparently hadn’t realized this, and shut up in a hurry. I heard about this later and was so proud of her I could’ve burst, but I also wished I could get my hands on that fool. This incident happened in Chicago, btw.

Do Cubans count as Hispanics? It doesn’t matter because i’m gonna give you the converse of the Q.

At the Gtmo Naval Base in the 50’s, I had the inestimable pleasure of working in the civilian infirmary. For “civilian” read, “mostly Cubans” because we had about 5,000 of them working on the base and they were the biigest portion by far of our clientele.

Dr. Sam a navy doctor and I (a lowly corpsman) ministered to the Cubans’ job-related illnesses and injuries. But we did a helluva lot more than that. Dr. Sam was one of the world’s great human beings and no one was ever turned away from our door.

For example, a Cuban who didn’t even work on the base was one of our most greatful customers. He piloted the “banana boat” that tied up on the pier, maybe 17 paces from our office, and sold fruit and vegetables to base personnel.

One day he brings in his son, about 7 or 8 years old. The kid’s arm was alarmingly swollen with the most severe infection I have ever seen. He’d have died from it. We took care of the kid right then and there, of course, plus follow-ups for a long while. His dad wanted to give us the boatful of his goods. Typical damn fine Cuban.

Oriente (the province in which Gtmo lies)was a hot bed for leprosy, back then. (Might still be, for all I know.) We took care of them, too - those in the early stages.

Sometimes, they’d come to us directly from Gtmo City - not base workers! I don’t know how they got past the marines guarding the gates. But they did. I don’t know for sure how they knew about Dr. Sam. But they did. Could be Dr. Samand a Cuban Doctor in Guantanamo City were in cahoots.

We treated the lepers with intradermal or subcutaneous (forgotten which) injections of some antibiotic. Didn’t cure them, but it kept the disease under control.

What I’ve told you here is the barest tip of the iceberg, but it all comes down to this: for every story of raging Hispanic bias you can tell, I can tell ten of quiet acts of kindness.

I only experianced a “look” once and a “I’ll let you decide” once.
The look was while I was in line to get to an LDS dance in high school. I asked my friend in line ahead of me if there was a charge and the woman taking the tickets shot us a look of pure hatred. It instantly made me sick; at 16 it was the first time I felt anything like that. My parents were refused service at a Bob’s Big Boy when they first moved to Las Vegas. They had me with them, I was less than a year old. They sat at a both and no one ever came to take their order while they watched others come and go as they were served. They were only 19 and when I hear this story about 25 years later, it burns me with so much anger and humiliation.

Now here is the “I’ll let you decide”. It’s not really anti hispanic or racism, but it singled me out for being hispanic. I got a letter from Princeton when I was a Junior congratulating me on my test results from I dont remember what test. They asked me to apply and sent an application in the envelope. The second paragraph started with something along the lines of, “We’ll be honest here and tell you we’re only really interested in you because you are hispanic and you did well on your test. We need more hispanic people on our campus” I instantly felt let down. Other people who I’ve recounted this too always replied, "so what. you should have gone and taken advantage of the opportunity.
" But something inside of me tells me that this was not right.

Maybe it was right. What if you went there and found out somehow, that some other more qualified Anglos were iced out because of you. Would you have felt

But then, so friggin what? You didn’t create the quota system. So, I feel you should have taken advantage of it.

Wouldn’t it have been sweet revenge for you to have gone to Princeton, and to have gotten a degree in something in which you could help other Hispanic kids better their lot in life? Damned straight!

Yes I have. People make jokes about it all the time here, lots of kids with some kind of hispanic blood in them are called “lawnmower” and they make jokes about it themselves. Some of the jokes are pretty bad, IMO. The ‘fried chicken and watermelon’ variety.

This may or may not have been a case of racism.

First off, I’m white. (So white, that when I take my shirt off, moths flock to me. :smiley: )

On my first day of work at my new job, I met a guy who was also starting that day. He is hispanic. (It turns out he’s also the brother of an aquaintance of mine, although I didn’t know that at the time.)

A few days later my (white) supervisor says, “So, you went to college, right?” I said “Yes”. And he replied, with a chuckle, “Thought so. They told me one of you two who started on Monday went to college, and that other guy didn’t look like college material to me.”

It’s possible it was merely a joke about how “mean” the other guy looked. He had a visible tattoo and a somewhat surly disposition. Then again, I suspect it was a little more than that.

Sometimes familiarity breeds understanding. Some of my older siblings used to refer to Mexicans as wetbacks, part of which came, I think, from being raised in New Mexico near the US-Mexican border and experiencing racism from the Mexican kids that lived around us. (We’re all pale, freckled redheads.) You know, kind of an, “I don’t like you,” “Well, I don’t like you either, then,” childish exchange. That’s just a guess, as I was too little at the time to remember.

Anyway, my little sis dated a guy of Mexican ethnicity in high school, and after that the negative attitude stopped. (The guy turned out to be kind of an ass, but that’s a whole 'nother story.)

So, yeah, I’ve heard/seen it, but it can be overcome.

My sister in law was married recently. At their house before the ceremony, the bridesmaids had gathered for lunch and were doing stuff in the kitchen to get it ready. S-I-L’s elderly grandmother walked in, saw the one hispanic bridesmaid and said “Oh good, the maid is here.”


Since I am of mixed ancestry, I get to see it from a unique perspective. People don’t know I’m part Hispanic so they don’t gaurd themselves around me.

The funniest thing I think I ever herd (on this matter) was from an evangelical Christian guy who assured me that Hispanics were bad news. When I disagreed he told me I’d just never been around a lot of them at once. I was thinking that I’ve been in the same room as about 200 of them, but I just let it go.

For the most part though, I sense less animosity toward Latinos than you might expect. I think most people are somewhat reasonable.

My ex husband is hispanic. One evening we were at a Kentuky Fried Chicken having dinner, and this older white guy kept giving us dirty looks. I ignored it, as I generally do with that kind of thing. When the ex got up to go wash his hands the white guy came up to me and said something to the lines of “why are you with him, you are a pretty white girl you can do so much better”

I glared at him and snarled something, I dont remember what. When the ex got back I husled us out of there, made sure that I was driving, and told him what had happened. He exploded, and wanted me to drive us back so he could kick the shit out of the old guy.
Needless to say I didnt comply, but I wanted to. I figured that the arrest and police reports weren’t worth it.

Here’s another “I’ll let you decide”.

My wife is Peruvian and has a definite accent. A few years ago we were in the process of moving to New Hampshire so I could work a contract job. I asked her to call a certain apartment complex (recommended by a friend) to set up an appointment so we could take a look at available apartments. She called severlal times over three days, left messages, but nobody ever called back. So, I called them myself from work. I got called back within 10 minutes. Coincidence? I think not… We chose another apartment.

I’m Hispanic, Mexican actually, but I look white. Most people ask me if I am Italian, French, Jewish, German…anything but Latino.
My family is mostly Spanish - some lived in New Mexico before it became part of the United States, and a lot of my older realatives from ther are touchy about being considered “white” as well. But there is some Indian blood in us too, just not as much as in most Mexican families. Back in the 1930’s and 1940’s in parts of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, or California there was a distinction made between “Spanish” and “Mexicans” - regardless of actual origin - based on things like skin color, class, status and so on. “Spanish” people were sort of treated as “whites”, but still looked down on for being Catholic and often less educated and poorer than Anglos. They were in the same lot as Irish or Italian people in many ways, and there was even quite a bit of intermarriage between “Spanish-Americans” and other “whites”. But “Mexicans” were definitely not percieved “white”, no matter what the census or federal government said. And there was no such term as “Hispanic” until much later.

Some of my “Hispanic” relatives keep a hint of this prejudice against other Hispanics. I have one relative in the military who comes back telling me all these stories about how awful “Puerto Ricans”, “Dominicans”, and “California Mexicans” are - not like us “real Hispanics” …like he is Don Juan de Oñate himself or something.

I wouldn’t say I’ve encountered “racism”, but sometimes I’ve encountered prejudice. I don’t know if comments like “you don’t look like one of them” or “are you sure you are Mexican” are exactly pleasant to hear. I also overhear stuff that people probably wouldn’t say if the thought a “Hispanic” person was in earshot.

I have never encountered anything really violent or hateful though, mostly just ignorance. A lot of people don’t seem to realize things such as Hispanics can come in more than one shade, or have wildly different backgrounds, or even more than one culture.

Sure. The most anti-Hispanic people I’ve ever encountered though were Portuguese. That just struck me as damn odd for some reason, given the state they live in - MA - doesn’t consider them white either. (I would say us, but I think as only 1/4th Portuguese I’m “white” by the state definitions) Sadly, my great-grandmother was one the worst of them, always muttering about how “those people” (meaning blacks and Puerto Ricans) were " going to take over the neighborhood."

To answer the question posed by the OP - “Ever personally encountered anti-Hispanic racism?” - Yes.

My crazy auntie, who I don’t see very often, went off once about how bad Puerto Ricans are - they smell, they’re lazy, etc. etc.

I let her go one for a few minutes before asking her “You realize my wife is puerto-rican, right?”

The stunned silence and backpedaling were very gratifying.

My girlfriend is White and boy do we catch the stares.
Mostly from older Hispanic women. Apparently I’m supposed to date only Hispanic women.

A White ex girlfriend’s mother also was fairly rude to me whenever we crossed paths. She is a teacher in a barrio school and had ingrained opinions about Hispanics.

I’ve heard some White people complain about Hispanics or actually any other ehnicity speaking to each other in their native tongues.
I don’t quite get it. Their conversations are nobody else’s business anyway so
what difference does it make that they speak in a language other than English? Language envy?