Editor’s Note: Univision’s dismissal of Rodner Figueroa following a racist remark he made about First Lady Michelle Obama has sparked a series of commentaries in the Spanish-language press about racism in the Latino community. In this editorial in today’s La Opinión, editors write that unfortunately, racism and classism are alive and well in the Hispanic community.
Univision host Rodner Figueroa’s comment about First Lady Michelle Obama rightfully caused a commotion around the topic of racism and discrimination among the Latino community, who are sometimes both victims and perpetrators.
The TV host’s dismissal was the quick decision made by a private company troubled and embarrassed because one of its employees compared an African-American woman with a monkey on the air. This is a colossal racist offense in the U.S. society where we Hispanics live.
Let’s talk about Ms. Obama as a human being, not as the president’s wife. She is a black woman in a country where racism played – and still plays – a shameful role which has resurged in the last several months through a number of tragic cases. The daily news, with their quota of racial tension throughout society, is proof that this problem is far from being solved.
This is a reality that no one can overlook. Being an immigrant does not justify ignoring it, especially when it is used to apologize after having committed the offense.
Unfortunately, racism, classism and their discriminatory effects are alive and well within the Hispanic immigrant community. We extend the prejudices learned in our homelands into our new country, and homesickness often helps people from the same country bond over their shared contempt of other foreigners.
Racial hatred, class contempt and patriotic antagonisms should not be allowed to develop and grow within the Hispanic community. There is enough prejudice against Latinos in several parts of the U.S. for us to let these tensions among us become worse. Nothing is sadder than an immigrant who needs to feel superior to another one in order to deal with the prejudice he or she is forced to face.
Figueroa’s case is a cautionary warning to make us aware of the values reigning in the society in which we live and to exercise respect for others. This is especially true regarding immigrants, who share the joy and sadness of starting a new life in the United States.