Racism towards Latinos and people of color in the U.S. is nothing new but some of the stories that have been coming out lately are straight up infuriating. This week a 91-year-old man was cruelly beat just for being Mexican. And now we’re hearing about a Puerto Rican woman who was recently harassed by an aggressive white man for wearing a Puerto Rican flag t-shirt. The things he said to her were just gross!
Mia Irizarry was at Forest Preserves of Cook Country in Illinois last month celebrating her 24th birthday. She claims that the man suddenly approached her asking why she was wearing a Puerto Rican flag t-shirt. She felt threatened and unsafe and proceeded to record the encounter on her phone.
“You should not be wearing that in the United States,” he’s heard saying to her. Irizarry later shared the video to FB and it has since gone viral. In the video you can see the man coming up to Irizarry and asking her numerous times if she’s a citizen.”If you’re not an American citizen, you should not be wearing that shirt,” he says to her. He tried multiple times to get in her face despite her asking him to please get away from her and at one point he said, “You are not gonna change us” and “You are not gonna come here and change the United States of America.”
What’s equally upsetting is that she had rented that outside space for her birthday and the nearby police officer did absolutely nothing to stop the harassment. You can see him not doing a thing in the video. Irizarry even asked him a few times to please get the man away from her.
“Officer can you, please? I’m renting this area and he’s harassing me about the shirt that I’m wearing,” she said. Irizarry even stated a few times in the video how she had secured a permit to use that part of the park for her celebration.
The harasser was clearly a racist and I’m starting to think that maybe that passive officer was too. The fact that we live in a country with a bunch of White Americans walking around not knowing that the island of Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory and has been since 1917 is beyond disturbing.
After the video went viral, Forest Preserves took to Twitter to confirm that they are investigating the on-duty police officer who did nothing to stop the harassment.
The investigation is ongoing and the officer involved has been assigned to desk duty pending the outcome. The intoxicated individual involved in the incident was arrested and charged with assault and disorderly conduct.
— Forest Preserves (@FPDCC) July 9, 2018
Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Russell was so disgusted by the incident he went on Twitter and called it “an undignified event.” He also called out the police officer for not doing anything to stop it. “I am appalled, shocked and disturbed by the officer’s behavior,” he wrote. “He failed to deescalate the situation and therefore did not ensure a citizen’s safety.”
Today a video surfaced of an undignified event in which a Puerto Rican woman was brutally harassed by a bigot while an officer did not interfere. I am appalled, shocked & disturbed by the officer’s behavior https://t.co/F9L4ewt1Ac @DavidBegnaud @ACLU
— Ricardo Rosselló (@ricardorossello) July 10, 2018
Racism has always existed in this country since day one but the type of hate and bigotry we’ve seen towards communities of color after Trump was elected president, has been unreal. Illinois Democratic congressman Luis Gutiérrez, who is of Puerto Rican descent also took to Twitter to express how much this incident upset him.
“There’s a culture of bigotry & hate that’s been condoned in US, which now feels unleashed to express itself in the most ugly & aggressive ways. In this case, a US citizen questions the citizenship of another US citizen and American-law enforcement just sits back and watches,” he wrote.
There's a culture of bigotry & hate that's been condoned in US, which now feels unleashed to express itself in the most ugly & aggressive ways. In this case, a US citizen questions the citizenship of another US citizen and American law-enforcement just sits back and watches. https://t.co/SsX1DpEPtM
— Luis V. Gutiérrez (@RepGutierrez) July 10, 2018
Regardless of what they might say, the Trump administration has absolutely contributed to this. Donald Trump is a vile, anti-immigrant bigot and so is everyone else in his cabinet. The way they responded to Hurricane Maria last September was not only offensive—but merciless. Their zero-tolerance policy that targets undocumented immigrants and the separation of thousands of Latino families at the border has been inhumane. They’ve locked up immigrants and small, innocent children in jails like criminals. The impossibly cruel treatment of Latinos and immigrants lately has been incredibly reminiscent of the internment of Japanese Americans in the U.S. during World War II. Thousands of Japanese American families were relocated, forced into concentration camps and treated like criminals. This along with the slavery of blacks are considered some of the ugliest, most atrocious acts in U.S. history and the treatment of undocumented Latino families that’s been happening lately isn’t too far behind in it’s level of cruelness.
This video of this man harassing this young Latina woman is just further proof that we’re living in a country filled with racist, ignorant folks who have no understanding of Latinos, people of color, immigrants or even Puerto Rico—an island that’s part of the United States. The fact that a white man is so threatened to see a Latina proudly claim her heritage and Latin pride definitely speaks not just to his ignorance but the fact that racist white people—racist white men especially—seem to be more nervous than ever about losing the privilege and power they’ve worked centuries to keep from us brown and black folks.
In fact, new census population projections strongly predict that minority groups will become the majority and that whites will become the minority group by 2045. According to Pew Research, Latinos are the nation’s largest minority group and by 2060, the Census Bureau projects that we will comprise over 28% of the total population. This is why racist white people are angrier than ever and why the Trump administration has been barbaric in their policies. They’re doing everything possible to prevent the Latino community in the US from actually growing and surpassing the white population. But what they don’t know is that POC of color are resilient. We won’t stop fighting until we overcome this.