“Apply for our annual Latino scholarship!” … “Enter our Hispanic essay contest!” … “Now hiring minorities!”
Growing up Mexican American in Portland, Oregon, I was frequently reminded that, despite my middle-class upbringing, I was a victim of “systemic racism” that could only be remedied by massive redistribution programs. However, a series of encounters led me to reject this race-based narrative because it advances social and political agendas that ultimately hurt minorities.
My skepticism of systemic racism began with some eye-opening conversations I had with several of my non-Latino friends. When scholarships were restricted to Latinos, my lower-income white friends lamented that they were not “diverse enough” to matter. I vividly recall the distress in my girlfriend’s voice when seemingly every Ivy League research assistantship came with the disclaimer “preference to people of diverse backgrounds.”
Recently, a friend of mine was fired from a minority-owned restaurant for not “embodying diversity enough.” These discussions aroused my suspicion of affirmative action’s effectiveness, particularly in light of polls showing how race relations have only worsened over the past decade.
The failure of these pro-diversity initiatives led me to question the claim that systemic racism exists in modern America. Indeed, the data suggests something different.
We see the financial success of Asian Americans, the prominence of Nigerian Americans in higher education and the fact that the median income of white Americans is surpassed by the children of immigrants from dozens of non-Western countries, including India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Indonesia, China, Colombia, Argentina, Egypt, Syria and Ghana (as U.S. Census data indicates).
Where, then, did the notion of systemic racism come from, and why have many minority groups subscribed to it?
My investigation led me to two of its most prominent claimants, Black Lives Matter and critical race theory, which share a disturbing common denominator: Founders of both movements embraced Marxist theories about class welfare and the historical oppression of vulnerable populations.
According to Marxism, it is the destiny of the oppressed to subdue their oppressors and build a communist society of equal outcomes, in which all people, regardless of their ability or merit, attain the same socioeconomic status. Marxist equality, therefore, demands the overthrow of supposedly oppressive institutions.
These include the traditional family, which expects children to submit to their parents; Christianity, which regards humility as a virtue; and capitalism, which produces economic disparities. But Americans would never abandon these pillars of society unless they suspected that something was inherently wrong with their way of life—something systemic.
Racism offered a worthy culprit to initiate the class warfare that would bring about Marxist equality. Spearheaded by coalitions like the Marxist Frankfurt School, which laid the groundwork for critical race theory in Ivy League colleges, the left began branding these pillars of American culture as racist and oppressive.
Their remedies include welfare programs exclusively for minorities, the designation of traditional marriage and sexuality as a white construct, and the elimination of “racist” accelerated programs in schools. All of these policies are promoted under the banner of combating racism.
But Latino culture is fundamentally at odds with Marxism’s agenda. According to Pew Research, 77% of Hispanic Americans believe in the American dream, which is far greater than the national average of 62%. That same source reveals that we also attend church more often and consider religion more important than most other ethnicities do. Finally, we treasure the traditional family. Why, then, have Latinos embraced the policies of the left?
For decades, leftists have branded themselves as defenders of my culture, yet their policies contradict our values.
It is time to for my fellow Latinos to recognize that allegations of systemic racism are a clever form of gaslighting, convincing us of problems that do not exist to justify a nefarious “solution,” manipulating us into becoming pawns of the left.
This piece originally appeared in the Orlando Sentinel.