Things That Matter

Hate Crimes Towards Latinos Spiked in 2019; Overall Highest They’ve Been in a Decade

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

In April of 2019, Connie and Michelle Pineda moved into the quiet suburban neighborhood of Lake Forest in Louisville, Kentucky. At first, their lives were peaceful and uneventful. But soon, the family began to receive a barrage of mysterious harassment.

First, it was the odd chemical burns they found on their front lawn–marks that seemed man-made. Then, some neighborhood kids called the Pineda children a racial slur (the Pinedas are a mixed Latino-Filipino family).

Soon, Connie and Michelle Pineda were waking up to a bright orange swastika accompanied by the n-word spray painted on their driveway.

Photo: Michela Connie Pineda/Facebook

The Pinedas checked their security cameras and discovered the culprit: their neighbor, 52-year-old Suzanne Craft. The Pinedas reported Craft to the authorities, and she was charged with criminal mischief and sentenced to seven days in jail. But that hasn’t stopped her from continuing the harassment. A bag of bullets recently appeared on the Pinedas’ front lawn. It came with a note that read: Get out.

“They live in fear,” the Pinedas’ attorney Vanessa Cantley told The Washington Post. “They have five children and three of them are old enough to know exactly what’s happening. They won’t go out and play in the yard. They won’t go out to walk the neighborhood. They are basically prisoners in their own home. The whole family sleeps in the living room, where there are no windows, because they just don’t know what this woman is capable of.”

Photo: Michela Connie Pineda/Facebook

Unfortunately, stories like this are becoming more and more common in the United States.

The FBI released their annual report detailing hate crime statistics and the data showed that hate crimes have reached their highest level in more than a decade. The report also showed the highest amount of hate-motivated killing since the FBI began collected this type of data in the early 1990s.

According to the FBI report, there were 51 hate-motivated killings in 2019. Twenty-two of those murders were from the El Paso Shooting.

In August of 2019, a gunman open-fired on patrons at a Wal-Mart in El Paso, Texas. It was later discovered that the shooting was racially-motivated. Previous to his killing spree, the shooter wrote on Facebook that Mexicans were “invading” the United States.

Hate crimes against Latinos spiked to 527 in 2019, up from 485 in 2018. Many critics are attributing the rise in hate crimes to the divisive culture we live in–much of which is fueled by President Trump’s racist anti-Latino rhetoric. “When the president calls [Latinos] rapists and criminals, what do you think is gonna happen?” said one Twitter user in response to the news. “His words have meaning to a lot of people and their actions are harmful for our society.”

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They Made Fun Of Her Accent During A Zoom Meeting But This Latina Councilwoman Clapped Back With Pride

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They Made Fun Of Her Accent During A Zoom Meeting But This Latina Councilwoman Clapped Back With Pride

Cheryl Diaz Meyer / Getty Images

Have you ever not spoken up out of fear for how people might judge your accent? Or maybe you’ve heard racial comments about how your abuelos or your tías speak?

Well, one Latina councilwoman knows exactly how so many of us feel after having experienced racist comments during a Zoom meeting on racial injustice amid her community’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout. But instead of remaining silent, she is urging anyone with an accent, especially Latinos in her community, to speak up and wear it with pride.

A chat about racism led to racist comments about Navarro’s accent.

A Maryland county was hosting a virtual meeting the racial disparities taking place amid the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, when two people giggled and mocked the accent of the county’s only Latina councilmembers.

During the, Nancy Navarro, a member of the Montgomery County Council, spoke passionately about the county’s coronavirus vaccine rollout, which she said is failing people of color. According to CDC data, Maryland ranks near the bottom when it comes to getting vaccines in people’s arms.

“For me personally, I’ve always had this interesting dilemma in my years of public service, which has been this bizarre disconnect in terms of who we are in Montgomery County,” Navarro, the first Latina and the only woman serving on the council, said. “We’re still perceived as a totally, we’re like some other hologram of a county that doesn’t look anything like who we actually are.” 

As Navarro spoke, there was some chatter and laughter in the background — two people who apparently thought they were muted were talking about Navarro’s accent. 

“I love how her accent comes out and pronounces words like she thinks they’re pronounced,” one person said, specifically calling out the way Navarro pronounced the words “represent” and “hologram.”

Navarro spoke up and urged anyone with an accent to wear it with pride.

Navarro wasn’t aware that the incident had happened until two staff members notified her of that the employees had said in the background.

“What happened to me on Tuesday was not an isolated incident, it fits a pattern of microaggressions and racist acts that wittingly and unwittingly make the workplace, and by extension, our community spaces hostile spaces for people of color,” Navarro told CBS News.

“Make no mistake, these dysfunctions are deeply ingrained in our county and in our country, racism has become a public health crisis,” Navarro added. “What hurt was that these employees are part of our team, charged with working daily with a diverse team of Council members and staff on initiatives that require a sensitivity to and respect for racial and ethnic differences.”

Since the incident happened, Navarro is urging Latino immigrants with a Spanish accent to “wear it with pride and keep moving forward.”

Navarro’s story is one that so many of us can relate to.

Like so many of us, our friends, and our family, Navarro’s story is one that is widely reflected in our community. She was born in Venezuela but came to the U.S. with her family when she was 10. Her family eventually returned to Venezuela but Navarro came back to the U.S. for college and moved to Maryland with her husband, where they’ve lived since the 1990s. Her story is 100% American.

Navarro hopes that this incident will drive people to consider the impact of their words and actions. And, ultimately, she hopes the council will strengthen its efforts to hire a staff that reflects the diversity in its community.

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Six Dr. Seuss Books Are Being Pulled From Publication Due To Racist Imagery

Things That Matter

Six Dr. Seuss Books Are Being Pulled From Publication Due To Racist Imagery

Vince Bucci / Getty

Don’t call it a total cancellation.

Dr. Seuss Enterprises has made the decision of their own accord to no longer publish or license six of the books written and illustrated by the writer Theodor Seuss “Ted” Geisel. The American children’s author who passed away in 1991 was also a political cartoonist, illustrator, poet, animator, and filmmaker. His first children’s book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (1937), and his book  If I Ran the Zoo (1950) are among the books being pulled as a result of racist and insensitive imagery.

On Tuesday, Dr. Seuss Enterprises shared a statement on their website explaining their decision to cancel the publication of the books.

Citing the four other books including McElligot’s Pool (1947), Scrambled Eggs Super! (1953), On Beyond Zebra! (1955) and The Cat’s Quizzer (1976) the company explained that they came to the decision citing the fact that they each “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.”

“Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families,” explained the statement.

Dr. Seuss Enterprises is a company that, according to Time Magazine, works to preserve and protect “the legacy of the late author and illustrator, who died in 1991 at the age of 87, also noted in the statement that the decision was made over the past year with a panel of experts, including educators, academics, and specialists in the field, who reviewed the catalog of titles.”

Children’s books by Dr. Seuss have long been considered a classic contribution to children’s literature.

The books’ colorful and fun illustrations and rhymes are still to this day instantly recognizable. Recently, however, the writer’s work has been re-examined and scrutinized for racial caricatures and stereotypes. This is especially when it comes to the depictions of Black and Asian people. Many have also pointed out that before he was known as Dr. Seusss, Geisel’s work had been strongly criticized for “drawing WWII cartoons that used racist slurs and imagery, as well as writing and producing a minstrel show in college, where he performed in blackface—a form of entertainment that some children’s literature experts point to as the inspiration for Geisel’s most famous character, the Cat in the Hat.”

Dr. Seuss Enterprises’s announcement of their decision to pull these books coincided with the anniversary of the writer’s birthday.

Geisel’s birthday coincidentally comes at the same time as National Education Association’s Read Across America Day, which has long been attached to his books,

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