While most people will pay attention to police brutality against African Americans and the “Black Lives Matter” movement, Latino lives seem to have been forgotten.
Allow me to first say that I have no problems with the Black Lives Matter movement, and I have the utmost respect for law enforcement. My point does not come from a place of malice, but rather pride and concern for people of my own ethnic background.
In school, it seemed as though most of the time events of the Chicano movement were either skimmed over or skipped all together. I never got any substancial knowledge of the Chicano movement until I took a Chicano Studies class when I was in college.
Many have heard of Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, and the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s. But does Cesar Chavez, Lupe Anguiano, Ruben Salazar, or the Chicano movement ring a bell?
People have probably also heard of the Rodney King case and the riots that followed; but I bet most haven’t heard of the Zoot Suit riots where white service men would find and beat Mexican American teens who wore Zoot Suits in the Los Angeles area.
These are just a few examples of the Latino being forgotten. Growing up, I was always taught about Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, and much of the African American experience during the Civil Rights movement. But hardly the Latino. Perhaps this is because the Latino is in a hard place. They’re in their own country, but they’re always seen as foreigners, so they get left out of American history.
The Trayvon Martin, Micheal Brown, and various other cases evoked national outrage and media coverage. However, cases such as Andy Lopez, a 13-year-old who was shot by police while carrying an air-soft gun, go largely unrecognized. A 2014 study showed that roughly one percent of national news covers Latinos.
Andy Lopez was just one of many cases that happen all over the country. Yet I can’t seem to remember the last time I saw any of these cases making national headlines. In 2016 people of Latino descent were among the top groups that were reported as killed by police officers.
There seems to be a constant trend throughout history that continues today. For some reason the Latino seems to always be lost in the shuffle. Long before people paid much attention to police brutality, a group of Mexican-American high school students formed a group in the 60’s called the Brown Berets. Their goal was to shed light on social injustices such as police brutality, discrimination, and education reform.
This same group is still active to this day, however, most don’t even know they exist. Like Andy Lopez as a victim, the Brown Berets are just one example of many other groups of many Latino activists that go largely unrecognized.
Perhaps before we can advance, we must first look at ourselves. The Black Lives Matter movement gained attention because the black community educated themselves on the matters, and made their voices heard.
We, not just the Chicano, but people of all Latino backgrounds should educate ourselves on history, and the matters at hand so that we may ensure that our voices can be heard. So that we can ensure that we will not be forgotten.