U.S. history neglects stories of racial violence the Hispanic community

Andrea Garcia, Staff Writer

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Students are required to take history courses throughout their middle school and high-school careers, as they should be. History provides a context from which people can understand themselves and others, as well as insight into our country’s origins, an appreciation of how past events influence society, and cross-cultural understanding and awareness. However, history classes cannot provide these benefits if the curriculum is not complete. There is a distinct absence of material on the long history of racism and racial violence against many ethnic groups, especially the Hispanic community. The United States needs to collectively recognize and respect the history of racism and racial violence against Hispanics in this country in order to better educate American citizens on racial biases and prevent future acts of terror.

American history fails to teach about acts of violence against the Hispanic community, specifically lynching. Lynching is defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as the “killing of a person, especially by hanging, for an alleged offense with or without a legal trial.” It is a vicious tool of racial control to establish white supremacy, a public act of racially-driven terrorism still in use to this very day. Upon many others, prominent lynchings of Hispanics include those of Antonio Rodríguez, Refugio Ramírez and his family, the 15 men and boys of Porvenir, and the 22 deaths of the El Paso shooting which took place in August of this very year, just to name a few. Rodríguez was imprisoned without trial and bound to a tree where he was set ablaze on Nov. 3, 1910. Refugio Ramírez and his family were accused of witchcraft and burned alive; Refugio’s daughter María was just a teen. On the outpost of Porvenir in West Texas on the Rio Grande, Anglo cattlemen and U.S. Army cavalry soldiers fatally shot 15 men and boys at close range. The youngest was only 16. On Aug. 3, 2019, 22 people were killed and 24 others were injured in the El Paso mass shooting. The mass murderer Patrick Crusius told detectives that he specifically targeted Mexicans on his killing spree. There are many more stories like these: stories of hanging, torture, of being burned alive, gunned down, beaten, and all such narratives have been left to collect dust, such as the story of the 1943 Zoot Suit Riots of Los Angeles. By remaining silent and neglecting this part of American history, there is no responsibility taken on the issue and thus there is no justice for this ethnic group. When impactful, important parts of history aren’t discussed, smaller, everyday acts of bigotry become an aspect of society that the Hispanic community must tolerate as a norm. 

The rhetoric surrounding the Hispanic community is harmful and negative. Public figures and people of power have justified racism and violence towards this group of people by referring to them in detrimental terms, which has created a hostile public environment. This has been true for the U.S. for a long time, it just wasn’t taught in the classroom. We perpetuate these practices when we bury bad aspects of U.S. history regarding the treatment of Hispanics.