Mass Incarceration

Mexican Americans are not seeking reparations. That doesn’t mean they don’t deserve them

SAN DIEGO — Expensive California, my stunning and resilient dwelling state. Even along with your wildfires, droughts and floods, I wouldn’t stay anyplace else.

But as a Mexican American, I’m not blind to historical past. For greater than 150 years, my tribe has lived in “occupied” territory. Mexican Individuals had been by no means enslaved or bought as property. However we’ve got been subjected — like our Native American cousins — to the indignity of being handled like second-class residents in our ancestral homeland.

For Mexican Individuals, that homeland isn’t Mexico. It’s the Southwest, which the USA stole from Mexico in 1848 and repurposed as eight U.S. states.

The mistreatment of Mexican Individuals who had been left behind started nearly instantly.

In 1855, the California Legislature enacted what grew to become often called the “Greaser Legislation,” which allowed for the arrest of anybody considered a vagrant. The legislation used the phrase “Greaser” to check with these with “Spanish and Indian blood.”

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Within the Nineteen Forties, in rural California cities, indicators in eating places blared: “No Canines or Mexicans Allowed.” Mexican Individuals needed to sit within the balconies of theaters, couldn’t get haircuts in some barber outlets and will use public swimming swimming pools solely on the day earlier than they had been scheduled to be cleaned.

Within the early Nineteen Fifties, town of Los Angeles forcefully eliminated about 300 households — most of them Mexican American — who had been dwelling in Chavez Ravine. Town then bought the land to Dodgers baseball proprietor Walter O’Malley, who used the positioning to construct Dodger Stadium after he moved the staff to Los Angeles.

The tales go on without end. I’ve the receipts.

But my philosophy is that it’s finest to not consider your self as a sufferer — even should you had been victimized. In fact, it’s important to watch out to not be too desperate to excuse wrongdoing. The one factor worse than a sufferer is a idiot.

Even so, I’m not on the market. California, I don’t need your filthy blood cash. Not that the state is providing any.

Reparations might quickly be on the agenda in California. On July 1, a first-in-the-nation job pressure is meant to conclude a evaluation course of that lasted greater than a 12 months and file its closing report back to the legislature.

The backstory may be traced to the homicide of George Floyd in Could 2020 by a Minneapolis police officer, which introduced civil unrest to dozens of U.S. cities. California lawmakers handed a invoice — which was signed into legislation by Gov. Gavin Newsom in September 2020 — that created a job pressure to review reparations, hear from consultants, and counsel concepts for the way the state might atone for years of merciless, unfair and discriminatory insurance policies geared toward Black Californians.

Earlier this 12 months, the duty pressure restricted reparations to descendants of Black individuals who had been in the USA as of the nineteenth century, whether or not they had been freed or enslaved.

The duty pressure is concentrated on alleged hurt carried out to African Individuals within the type of property seized by the federal government, devaluation of Black-owned companies, housing discrimination, homelessness, well being points, mass incarceration and “over-policing” — all points that Mexican Individuals have confronted as effectively.

A few of that is smart. A few of it doesn’t.

In these circumstances the place the state of California unlawfully usurped non-public property, a money cost is so as. State officers ought to apologize and ship a test to the household.

Final 12 months, the legislature returned Bruce’s Seashore, a beachfront property in Southern California, to descendants of the Black residents who owned it till it was taken by the state via eminent area within the twentieth century. The household lately introduced that it was going to promote the parcel to Los Angeles County for $20 million.

However how will we measure “over-policing?” When police focus consideration on a Black neighborhood, is that good or unhealthy? Legislation enforcement will get criticized for allegedly failing to guard Black individuals, but in addition for allegedly harassing Black people.

As I think is true with most Mexican Individuals, I’d be offended if California tried to purchase us off to get us to close up.

But, oddly, I’m extra offended that state officers — together with Newsom and legislators — don’t appear to assume the state owes Mexican Individuals a nickel.

So California, should you’re planning to settle up with different teams, you must no less than acknowledge that Mexican Individuals even have a declare — even when we don’t pursue it. The primary debt incurred by the Golden State was to those that lived right here lengthy earlier than the territory grew to become a state and earlier than gold was ever found. We’re your unique sin.

Navarrette may be reached at

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