ulián Castro, a Mexican-American, is running for president. Latin music is more popular than country music, and one of the most recognizable political faces in the United States is Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., whose family comes from Puerto Rico.
And yet, Latinos — even those whose roots in this land stretch back to before the nation’s origins — still face overt and subtle racism and discrimination. Hate crimes against them are rising, and they are underrepresented in film, in high-tech jobs and in the federal government workforce. And when they advocate for equal treatment and representation — or even when they just speak Spanish in public — they hear over and over that they need to assimilate.
Two U.S.-born Latino women were detained by a Border Patrol agent last May for simply speaking Spanish in a convenience store; the American Civil Liberties Union recently sued U.S. Customs and Border Protection over that. The former White House chief of staff, John Kelly, said last year that Central Americans crossing the border are “not people who would easily assimilate.” NBC journalist Tom Brokaw recently said Hispanics “should work harder at assimilation,” and should make sure their children learn to speak English.