Hispanics as well as non-Hispanics need to assimilate
For as long as can be remembered, San Diego County was home to a Western-European descendant population that politically and economically controlled the region. The other ethnic and racial group minorities were tolerated, as long as they were passive in their demands and submissive to the will of the majority.
Unnoticed for a time was the growing Hispanic or if you will, Latino population whose growth became the majority in most of the county’s southern cities and communities, and slowly began to overtake the non-Hispanic population in a number of the county’s northern cities. So it has come to pass that SANDAG’s 2010 regional demographic report indicates that in Escondido, the non-Hispanic population is now a minority and other north county cities will soon follow.
Giving way to the inevitable loss of power and faced with a formerly passive and submissive ethnic group now eager to challenge the old system is not easily acceptable by a large segment of the county’s northern population. And they are striking back with a barrage of abrasive often cruel and insensitive rhetoric intentionally or unintentionally aimed at the heart of the Hispanic people and, as in the case of Escondido, passing highly discriminatory laws in hopes of turning back the tide.
Because it is “politically incorrect” and due to Civil and Constitutional rights the attacks are aimed at “illegal aliens” in our presence instead of directly at the overall Hispanic population. The undocumented immigrants are in their mind fair game and attacks directed towards them are more palatable, thus in this manner they serve as the proxy for the frustration of the growing numbers and power of Hispanic citizens.
The attacks are with frequency devoid of fact, persistent myths kept alive through repetition, and downright untruths. An example among these remarks is one made by Escondido’s new mayor Sam Abed that it’s not a matter of too many Hispanic rather their “refusal to assimilate.” The key words are ‘their refusal’ as it is a direct condemnation to the entire Hispanic group without basis and in fact, grossly erroneous and insulting.
Like all immigrant groups to the US, most Hispanics arrive without English language skills, which depending on age of arrival either can be overcome or not, but by the second generation English is the chosen language. Thus hearing Spanish is not due to ‘refusal to assimilate’ nor enjoying ancestral culture a rejection to the new culture. Referring to oneself as Mexican or from whatever Latin American country, is not repudiation to the ‘new’ country anymore than those of Irish or Italian ancestry referring to themselves as such.
Facts dispel the notion that Hispanics are not assimilating. They are creating new businesses three times faster than the general population generating millions of dollars of annual revenues. Nationally Hispanic purchasing power surpasses $700 billion per year with an annual growth of $50 billion; and they are registering to vote at a rate six times greater than the general population. Hispanic home ownership since 1994, though still lagging in total, has grown by 17.48 percent, compared to non-Hispanic white home ownership growth of 5.86 percent, and in 2002 overtook African Americans in total percentage of home ownership (48.4% vs 46.2%).
Further evidence can be seen in Escondido itself where a Hispanic was elected to the city council. Surely Mayor Abed does not suggest that Councilwoman Olga Diaz is not assimilated?
Mayor Abed, other elected officials and non-Hispanic Escondido residents must keep in mind that accepting diversity is part of their own assimilation process and until they do so, they are not fully assimilated to what is the spirit of America. It is a sign of non assimilation and most certainly nothing patriotic on seeing brown skin and pronouncing the person is in the U.S. illegally, or by the introduction and passing of discriminatory unconstitutional laws aimed at one sector of our society.
The high hope is that all elected officials throughout the region will govern representing all residents within their jurisdiction not just a segment. And, most certainly not spewing divisive rhetoric that neither stems the changing demographics nor solves the real problems such as illegal immigration, education, employment, et al, faced by the region as a whole.
Fredi Avalos, a member of Vista Citizens for Responsible Government, was quoted saying it best, “We need to set up some way for Latinos and whites to have coffee together.”