Things That Matter

The Border Patrol Has Instilled Fear In Much Of The Latino Community So Why Are So Many Latinos A Part Of The Group?

Recent reports establish that about 51 percent of Border Patrol personnel is of Latino heritage, which has sparked a debate that encompasses issues such as cultural representation, ethnic self-hate and worse. However, whatever side people might be on (understanding or blaming the Latino agents), one thing is certain: things are a bit more complicated than a simple good guys versus bad guys narrative. There are multiple social, historical and financial matters that come into the equation. So let’s explore this issue a bit more in-depth. 

You might have heard of the private Facebook groups in which Border Patrol mocked migrants.

Credit: @votolatino / Twitter

As reported by Scroll.in: “Members of a secret Facebook group for current and former Border Patrol agents joked about the deaths of migrants, discussed throwing burritos at Latino members of Congress visiting a detention facility in Texas on Monday and posted a vulgar illustration depicting Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez engaged in oral sex with a detained migrant, according to screenshots of their postings.” Well, it turns out that many of them, just like the so-called ICE bae, were of Latino origin. This might have surprised some, but there are reasons behind this. 

Donald Trump made headlines by showcasing a Latino CBP agent and his “perfect English,” which brought the existence of Latino agents into mainstream political discussion. This event revealed a deeper cultural truth…

Credit: @robforusa / Twitter

Oh, POTUS, he can’t help himself, can he? 

What Trump revealed: some gringos see “Latinos” as a homogeneous group of people. Basically, this is how non-Latinos tend to see Latinos:

Credit: Giphy

Hollywood and media representations have long grouped Latinos into a single siesta-loving, sexy, drinking bunch. This is called racial profiling and it is alive and well.

In fact, Latinos are a very diverse group.

Credit: News Taco

Latinos have long been part of the U.S. social structure. Latinos have been in what is now the U.S. for centuries. And Latinos come to the U.S. for many reasons, and sometimes these reasons are political. Many Cuban exiles, for example, escaped the Castro regime and established themselves in Florida. Latinos tend to vote Republican because that is the party that generally has a hard line against the Cuban government. In the case of Mexicans, a majority flees violence and poverty in their country by crossing the border as undocumented migrants. But many others are wealthy and establish in cities like San Antonio by investing in new businesses. Grouping a growing and diverse section of the United States population under the umbrella term “Latino” is mistake, and perhaps the reason why Democrats are generally surprised when “Latinos” vote for candidates such as Donald Trump (sadly, he represents the agenda and views of many). In fact, the Pew Research Center discovered that 21% of Millennial Latino voters described their political views as conservative, 38% as moderate, and 37% as liberal.

Some used the fact that Latinos make up a considerable fraction of Border Patrol law enforcement to diminish the abuses committed at the border and at detention facilities.

Credit: @nthonylanger / Twitter

This, of course, leads to simplistic interpretations of the border crisis, such as Anthony’s here.

And government officials se lavan las manos stating that there can be no abuse if Latinos are enforcing immigration laws.

Credit: @cnsnews / Twitter

But, again, things are much more complicated than this. Does he even know that the percentage of Border Patrol agents that are Latino is really a reflection of the demographic composition of border towns? If you have a large Latino population in any locality, it is only logical that your workforce will have a strong component from that particular ethnic group. 

Some Latinos on Twitter are enraged and take a black and white perspective that also lacks nuance.

Credit: @GuillermoX15 / Twitter

We understand the anger, but this kind of simplistic interpretation of reality is what got us in the political and discursive mess we are into right now.

Some voices on Twitter are more conciliatory and this is a political discussion this country needs.

Credit: @oakleyw10 / Twitter

Political extremism is born out of ignorance and half-truths. We like the position taken by this Twitter user, who questions some basic assumptions about Border Patrol agents of Latino origin: they are not all Republican supporters and we cannot just do what far-right dudes and just isolate these agents. There are many more factors we have to consider: they do not work in Border Patrol because they hate their own.  

But as a recent article on Patheos pointed out: a job is a job, and Border Patrol officials need the money.

Credit: @OliverDonuts / Twitter

This post on Patheos echoed an op-ed written by scholar David Cortez on USA Today. Cortez argues that one of the reasons Latinos work for immigration enforcement is plain old money: “Although Hispanics make up 39% of the Texas population, they make up 51% of the population living in poverty… Thus, the decision to apply for and accept a Customs and Border Protection job that offers a starting salary of nearly $56,000 a year and generous benefits is not a complicated one”. Cortez was interviewed by Lulu Garcia-Navarro or NPR, and he explained further: “Well – so these agents actually do, from my experience, from my research, find themselves connected with the people that they encounter. But for many of them, this job is not necessarily about stopping immigration. This isn’t about their dedication to immigration law or their dedication to keeping migrants from crossing the border illicitly or anything like that. This is about economic self-interest. This is about survival”. 

Latino Border Patrol agents face ethical questions, but they don’t want to jeopardize their jobs or their family’s financial stability.

Credit: USA Today

In this op-ed by Cortez, interviewees said: 

“One agent I interviewed, for instance, acknowledged the connection between himself and the migrants he encounters as fellow Latinos, and explained that he felt bad, at times, working in immigration, but that he had to provide for his family. Switching to Spanish for emphasis, he stressed that this was the job he had chosen, so he had to do it.

Another agent offered a similar refrain. While he admitted to an inherent contradiction between who he was as a Latino and what he did as an immigration agent, he was unambiguous about what mattered most. Despite any misgivings he might have about the job, he said he would never do anything to put it in jeopardy because his family came first.”

Here we can see how a core Latino value, putting family first, above anything else, comes face-to-face with the contradictions of being a Latino Border Patrol agent. As these interviews point out, the decision is not that simple.

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Latinas Are Sharing Their Most Treasured Memories Of Their Abuelos And It’s Exactly What We Needed This Month

Fierce

Latinas Are Sharing Their Most Treasured Memories Of Their Abuelos And It’s Exactly What We Needed This Month

Buda Mendes / Getty

When it comes to celebrating our Latinidad, there’s no denying that Latinos need much more than a month to celebrate our accomplishments, cultures, and contributions. Still, since 1988, people across the country have used Hispanic Heritage Month to commemorate the contributions of Latin Americans in the United States. This month, just like every other month, we’re recognizing and celebrating our Latinidad by sharing stories and moments from our followers.

Recently we asked Latinas on FIERCE to share their memories of some of the most influential Latinos in their lives: their abuelos.

Check out their sweet stories below.

“Ayy mis abuelos; I truly believe they were my soulmates. So many favorite memories. From my grandpa waking up early to start praying and writing his devotionals, to them sitting on the back swing HE MADE praying the rosary, playing backyard baseball with him & my cousins, my grandma sitting outside watching while croquets, watching novelas with her, they were the loves of my life, the sunshine my soul always needed to be happy….I’ll never trade any of my amazing moments with them. My angels; Catalina y Felipe Sustaita.” –melannram

“My abuelito passed away almost 10 years ago now, he was sick ever since I could remember so I was never able to make memories with him. Earlier this year I got to visit the rancho in MX where he raised my dad and tios. A little back story, I have this belief and connection to white butterflies. Whenever I see them or they cross my path I am convinced it’s my abuelito telling me that he’s near or watching over me🤎 anyways, on our way to the ranchito which I had only visited once before when I was about 4, we were guided by these hand sized white butterflies, it was absolutely beautiful. My abuelito really lead us to his casita in the rancho. I could feel his presence and happiness that his grandchildren had the opportunity to visit his home 🤎 this is my favorite memory, this is the memory that I cherish,
– a memory that brings me joy.” –sandra_larios

“Seeing my grandpa make my grandma a cocktail when she came home from a long day at work. He would leave her cocktail for her on the kitchen counter, so it was the first thing she’d see when she walked through the door. They taught me it isn’t always grand gestures, but a lot of the small ones that count.allimae2011

“My abuela started losing her memory early on but she always remembered the story of how she met our Abo until the day she passed. I was the type of kid that kind of resisted learning spanish, but hearing her tell those stories in her beautiful Puerto Rican accent made me fall in love with the language in a way I had never before. I owe my love of spanish and story telling to her. She was a wonderful story teller and I’ll always hold the fondest memories of sitting in her terraza with her 70s furniture, drinking cafecito, and talking about the man who made her fall head over heels in love.” –
alfonsina_mj

“Hearing them talk in the kitchen, drinking their coffee while listening to boleros.”- mel_aguirre1

“Making homemade tortillas with my ama.” – alwaysdulcee

“My Cuban 🇨🇺 Abuelitos riding in the back seat of their Mercedes and watching Abuelo open the door for Abuela every time. My Mexican 🇲🇽 side was making tortillas with Abuela and Abuelo teaching me to drive his truck. At 7 years old!” – brigittecasaus

“Making tamales for us just because.” – angierivera4265

“Cruising with my grandpa, building a studio with grandpa, changing the oil, tire, battery and learning to pump gas with grandpa. But my favorite one, him teaching me to read a clock with a song.” – 2ev37

“Meeting my grandma for the first time when she came to visit us in the US. I was 4 years old! It was so exciting because I would only speak to her in the phone and to finally meet her was a blessing. She was such an amazing lady ! She passed away 7 years ago. I wished she and I could of seen each other more often.” –_lizzylivvy28

“I would sit down on the little old sofa in our living room with my abuelito. He would tell me stories about him when we was younger. I always loved it when he would tell me the story about how he met my abuelita.” –
emigandar

“My grandparents weren’t together anymore, but they we’re 2 special people. My grandpa would always call at the crack of dawn on my birthday. I hated it as a kid, but loved it as an adult. And I’ve missed them the last few years of his life. My grandma would make our birthday cards and send them via mail. When we’d get them they would always be different. I miss those A LOT. They were always personalized and she knew details about the things I was going through so she made them specific to that. It was so special the little things they did for us. We lost my grandma 7 years ago and my grandpa a year ago in July.” –e_bonita89

“They raised me so having coffee with both of them. Eating watermelon with my grandpa and then reading together. Watching old movies together then taking naps. My grandma and I love watching novelas and then talk about them. I still walk with her to 26th street (little Village) or to our nearest aldi.” –melyssa.1997

“Mi abuela used to wake me up on weekends. She would enter the room singing “buenos días su señoría mantantirulirula”. She used to give me a hair brush, and while she was opening the window she would say “brush your hair hija, so the sleep will go away. I opened the window for it to go”. I would brush my hair and convince myself that I got rid of my sleepiness. My grandma is 90 now, and she’s still magic like this.” – iamevyi

“In 7th grade I missed the bus, and I hated missing school, and I cried the entire day because I was scared my parents were going to yell at me, and my grandma stopped my dad before he came in and told him what happened and how it was her fault I missed the bus, because she accidentally unplugged my alarm, even though it wasn’t true.”-
tinnaafaceee

“When my daughter was 6, I took her to visit my grandparents in Mexico. We arrived to the airport at night. It was crowded, a little disoriented, my baby seemed nervous as we were going through customs & she asked me “what if Grandpa can’t find us?”, Just then I saw movement through the large window ahead of us, it was my Abuelito, elbowing his way through the crowd, waving and smiling at us. He was always there when I needed him.” –magpieinaz

“Abuelos? Don’t have them. (Bad joke) They passed before I ever got to meet them. My parents never really talk about them, I think it’s too painful. I often wonder if there are any traits I have from them or if I do anything that my parents might say, oh she got that from my mom/dad. I’m happy my son has all 4 grandparents; I take a billion pictures of him with them.” –_nancysalto

melannramAyy mis abuelos; I truly believe they were my soulmates. So many favorite memories. From my grandpa waking up early to start praying and writing his devotionals, to them sitting on the back swing HE MADE praying the rosary, playing backyard baseball with him & my cousins, my grandma sitting outside watching while croquets, watching novelas with her, they were the loves of my life, the sunshine my soul always needed to be happy….I’ll never trade any of my amazing moments with them. My angels; Catalina y Felipe Sustaita ❤️

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

This Brand Is Being Called A ‘Culture Vulture’ After Being Accused Of Gentrifying Latino Cooking

Culture

This Brand Is Being Called A ‘Culture Vulture’ After Being Accused Of Gentrifying Latino Cooking

Granddriver / Getty Images

As a kid growing up in a Latino household, pretty much everyone had a giant molcajete for grinding up spices and making salsas, or a tortilladora for whipping up homemade tacos and quesadillas. And as staple of pretty much any Latina home, they weren’t that expensive either.

Well, one online company has taken all of that and flipped it upside down to try and make a very hefty profit by bringing ‘artisan crafted’ products into people’s homes – helping them experience a ‘cultural journey.’

The store’s outrageous prices for such traditional kitchen items is generating tons of criticism alone from people calling them ‘culture vultures’ and accusing them of gentrifying Latino cooking and cultural appropriation.

Verve Culture is being called a ‘culture vulture’ for taking traditional Latino cooking tools and selling them at insanely high prices.

Credit: MiComidaVegana / YouTube

Verve Culture – an online store dedicated to bringing “you on a cultural journey” – is facing a series of complaints after profiting from traditional cultural products. The company sells typical products in the preparation of three traditional cuisines at very high prices: Mexican, Moroccan, and Thai.

In the case of traditional Mexican products, the company sells orange and lemon juices; accessories for making chocolate, blown glasses, and molcajetes. And at insanely high prices: a molcajete for $60, a tortilla press for $60, a Mexican chocolate set for $80, and a “Mexican hand juicer” for $15.

The company is obviously profiting off of traditional products of a culture that is too often denigrated – or on the other end of the spectrum, fetishized. Brands are no stranger to appropriating traditional cultural items to boost sales but this particular instance seems to have hit a major nerve with shoppers.

Like, for real?! A molcajete for $60 USD?!

Among some of the most outrageous priced items is a molcajete and tortillero set that goes for $60 USD. That’s literally 20 times more expensive than it should cost.

As someone who lives in Ciudad de México, and who does their shopping at local tianguis and mercados, I have literally bought the exact same set Verve Culture is selling. I paid $60 pesos for the set – not $60 USD – or about $3 USD.

Selling items like this at such inflated prices means Verve Culture is profiting off of the cultural and gastronomic identity of an entire country. So it’s no surprise that Mexican Twitter lit up in shock and anger.

The reaction on Twitter was swift and full of outrage.

A Tweet showing off the outrageously priced products and accusing the brand of “gentrifying Mexican kitchen cookware” already has 36,000 likes and almost 20,000 retweets.

Among some of the comments include one Twitter user who said “Take your site down. This is an insult to Mexican culture along with all the other cultures you’re profiting off. Our culture is not your home decor!”

Another user tweeted, “…not of them is brown so it should really be named stolen culture because they’re selling fancy versions of things traditional to Mexican culture. Having one is fine, profiting off of a minority or their culture is not fine.”

While at least one person pointed out that the people who craft these items have long been taken advantage of. In a tweet, she said “Culturally we’ve been taught that our incredible craft and culture are worth close to nothing for years now, I really wish we could just collectively erase this mindset but at this point it’s so deeply rooted that thinking differently even feels “wrong” most times.”

Many pointed out that if you want to respect a culture’s food, support actual locals and artesanos.

Shopping online from three women who are not from the communities they’re profiting off of, is now way to support that community. That should be common sense but that site seems to have many customers.

As one Twitter user pointed out, if you really want to support local trabajadores, you should be buying directly from them. Shop in your local flea markets, your Latinx-owned shops and markets, this is how you’ll best help artisans.

The company’s $60 tortilla press was even featured in a Buzzfeed article earlier this year.

In the article, the author points out that the “tortilla press is made in Mexico from old Singer sewing machines and other recycled irons! The cast iron should last you, basically, forever so it’s definitely worth your money.”

That’s all great but where is that money going? How much of the $60 is the Mexican, Moroccan, Thai artisan actually earning from Verve Culture’s sales?

So what is Verve Culture and what do they have to say about all of this?

According to their website, Verve Culture is “a women-run business spanning three generational groups from Baby Boomer, Gen X, to Millennial.” As founders, Jules and Jacquie are a mother and daughter team who have worked together for 27 years.

In the company’s about section, they go on to say, “We are in constant pursuit of life traveled fully.”

“Our vision is to explore the cultural richness of artisans and communities around the world – to educate and inspire, while honoring the traditions and heritage of their work.”

Despite these claims, Twitter has been loud and clear in its message: stop profiting off the backs of already underpaid and overworked artisans from around the world.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com