Respect = Respeto

By Lola
I was just browsing through some interesting Chicano pages and sites. The extremism that colors so much of the current opinion in the US is very evident there, too, albeit in the other direction. Here is an excerpt from one of the sites that struck me as, well, extremist, when referring to the difference between a Chicano and a Mexican-American (or Hispanic):

“The Mexican-American (Hispanic) is a person who lacks respect for his/her cultural and ethnic heritage. Unsure of her/himself, she/he seeks assimilation as a way out of her/his “degraded” social status.”

That sent shivers up and down my spine. What does that make me? A mongrel with a spine made of gelatina? I consider myself Hispanic, Latina, a wonderful mix of Mexico and Puerto Rico, a woman, a mom, a daughter, a friend… Not necessarily Hispanic-American, because hyphenates give me hives, but grateful to live in this country (with all the good, the bad and the ugly) that allows me to provide for my little familia with the metaphorical sweat of my brow. I consider myself all kinds of things. But certainly not seeking “assimilation as a way out of her/his ‘degraded’ social status”. Santo cielo.

I’ve always believed you have to give respect in order to get respect. Both sides of what has become a nasty war seem to have totally lost sight of what the word means, all the while raging and foaming at the mouth about “respect”.

I also read this in a post in Facebook about Professor Soto’s speech at the University of Arizona’s graduation today:

” Great spirits have always encountered opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly.” Albert Einstein

“Truly inspiring, may we all heed her words to create the space to dialogue without blame and prejudice.”

There’s a difference between expressing “opinions courageously and honestly” and lobbing Molotov cocktails spiked with Agent Orange at each other.

“A space to dialogue without blame and prejudice.”

From her mouth to God’s ears.