Washington, D.C. August 8, 2019.- Walking around El Paso last week during a three-day delegation I was a part of led by Hispanics in Philanthropy, I felt safe, welcomed, and energized. El Paso is a border town that is over 80 percent Latino and has been ranked as one of the safest cities in the country.
That was until a 21-year-old domestic terrorist inspired by a cacophony of anti-immigrant/anti-Latino rhetoric that has become the soundtrack to a dark vision of America … El Paso was suddenly the epicenter of hate, bloodshed, and a shattered country.
Tragically, hateful talk of a “Hispanic invasion” went from tweets to triggers.
Twenty-two innocent lives were callously slaughtered by a white supremacist who posted racist vitriol aimed at immigrants and Latinos simply for wanted to take part in the same American Dream that has brought millions to this country throughout history.
As Latinos and immigrants living in the United States, we have often been a target of xenophobia, harassment and hate but now we are in the actual cross hairs of a killing machines like the AK-47-style used by the white supremacist murderer. We have gone from being yelled at in restaurants to chased into shadows to being subjected to chants of “build the wall” to now being the subjects of a calculated, terrorist attack.
As we collectively grieve the murdered and pray for the injured, we all, as Americans, need to not only stand up for the most vulnerable but also hold those accountable who perpetuate the nefarious animosity toward immigrants, Latinos or other groups that are being targeted as “the other.” And that goes for those who are quietly complicit including elected officials, corporations, colleagues, the media, and yes, our own family and friends … As my sister Alejandra Castillo said, “this is not a time to whisper, it’s a time to scream!”
Be patriots. Stand up for the America you believe in. The America you trust. The America you want to be a part of. We all need to do our part.
Antonio Tijerino, President and CEO – Hispanic Heritage Foundation