My wife (known by our friends as St. Alma for having to deal with me) is the kindest, most caring woman I know. She is highly educated, earning a graduate degree from one of the top schools in her specialty. She is regularly called on by civic, religious and governmental organizations due to her expertise in her field. She is a patient, loving mother, and a dedicated friend. Although it doesn’t matter, let me add that she is beautiful as well. I have never heard anyone speak poorly of her, and her colleagues tend to sing her praises when I meet them. She is a wonderful, faithful woman. And I worry for her safety. In today’s culture, there are some who would choose not to see those admirable qualities my wife possesses because of false judgments regarding the color of her skin.
My wife was born in El Paso, Texas. I cannot imagine that anyone reading this is unaware of the brutal act of cowardice carried out in her hometown by a person who likely would have shot at my wife had she been shopping at a certain Walmart on Aug. 3. My wife was born in the U.S. to naturalized citizens who raised a family of seven to love this country (one of my brothers-in-law is a police officer and former Marine who was called on duty after the shootings). My wife and her family would have been targets for no other reason than a bias that sees every Hispanic as a potential “illegal alien,” not proud Americans who serve their nation and community. Down the sights of a rifle, evil people only see confirmation of their bias.
Some might say that the shooting in El Paso was a single event, but many news stories have surfaced in recent days that prove otherwise. The Texas Rangers, for example, are investigating an incident at their ballpark the same day as the El Paso shooting. A man sitting behind Ramon Romero and his family made constant racist remarks including a hope that all the “illegals” around him would be “sent back.” The members of the Romero family are all U.S. Citizens. More importantly, they are children of God.
Each year, we take hundreds of youth to Washington, D.C. to advocate for the dignity of all persons, from conception to natural death. We don’t march only for those of German or Irish descent; we march in recognition that all people, no matter their skin color or country of origin, are children of God. And yet I still worry for my wife — and my daughter.
I have a running half-joke with a good Polish friend of mine from New York: We want to exit the rat-race and open a restaurant that blends Polish and Mexican cuisine. I don’t want anyone to steal our idea, so I won’t share the restaurant name or menu here, but the plan arose because both of our families have blended marriages between Poles and Mexicans. We agreed that so many of the cultural influences that have formed Poles also seemed present for people from Mexico. Because of this, there are great similarities between these two ethnic groups. Even art and pottery styles are oddly similar for countries so geographically distinct. My friend likes to say that “Poland and Mexico must have shared a border at some point in history.” Yet we only know this because of our personal contact with real people, not with a label that seeks to paint an entire group with a single stroke.
Look, I don’t care about a person’s political affiliation or position on immigration or gun control. What I do care about is that our culture is rapidly dehumanizing people with labels. I suppose you can see my wife’s dark brown hair, brown eyes and tan skin; and make a judgment; but you’d miss all the good qualities that make her who she is to me and others who love her. That would truly be your loss because she’s wonderful.
My bottom line is simple; when someone applies a hateful label, mistakes it for reality and levels gun sights on someone while they shop, that is something that should horrify every decent person. It worries me every single day.