Let’s say that you live in, once lived in, or otherwise have a fondness for a traditional Latino neighborhood in your city.
No doubt you are aware that gentrification is a powerful force that is either the worst cataclysm in the history of urbanization, or a mighty godsend that will rescue every blighted neighborhood on the planet. Opinions vary.
But let’s sidestep that very real issue for now and address something we can all agree on: Many Hispanic neighborhoods have economic problems that need to be tackled, and improving the quality of life in Latino areas should be a top priority.
Well, I’m here to tell you that’s not going to happen. Because your neighborhood, your barrio, is not going to improve.
You see, we have only so many resources — and more importantly, only so much empathy — in this country. And currently, both are being used up in the effort to rescue small-town America and the white working class.
Now, you might ask, “Hey, isn’t the white working class synonymous with ‘Trump voter’? And isn’t there lots of proof that many of them are racists who have sold out our country because of their fear, hatred, and ignorance?”
Ha, no. I have it on good authority (i.e., the mainstream media) that the WWC are actually the salt of the earth, and they have been cruelly left behind by economic elites, and they have suffered greatly due to myriad other injustices that curiously never get mentioned whenever we talk about ethnic minorities (but that’s a mere coincidence).
In essence, we have unlimited sympathy for poor whites, and vast reservoirs of excuses for why they are free of responsibility for their problems and/or questionable decisions. For those Latinos who live in struggling urban neighborhoods, however, the message is clear: This is all your fault, so quit your whining.
For example, that opioid epidemic devastating rural America? It’s a full-blown crisis. But drug problems in the inner city? Just the moral failures of black and brown people.
Aren’t you glad I cleared that up?
Oh sure, you might point out that based upon every statistical fact, lower-class white people actually have many advantages over Hispanics, and in some cases even over those Latinos who don’t live in poverty.
It doesn’t matter, because the image of the proud but destitute coal miner — the embodiment of the white working class — is stronger than any silly little facts or figures you could throw around.
For example, during the presidential campaign, Trump was rewarded when he insisted that he could rescue the coal industry, even though that’s virtually impossible. Meanwhile, Clinton talked about coal’s inevitable death, and she lost votes, even among people who don’t work in the industry. That’s how damn important it is.
Naysayers point out that more people work for Arby’s than work in the coal industry. And others bring up the fact that other, even bigger industries are facing destruction, and that nobody gets worked up about, say, the decline of photofinishing jobs.
But that misses the point.
The bottom line is that white working-class jobs are sacred and must be saved. All other jobs and people suck.
So you see, striving to improve your barrio is a futile endeavor. The political and cultural headwinds are just too strong.
And that’s why we tell any ambitious young Latinos with impressive grades — you know, the good minorities — that they have to get out of those neighborhoods. They need to abandon the barrio. Moving to the suburbs is the only way they can prove that they have succeeded. Just leave the city to rot.
In contrast, we tell people who live in dying small towns that they are fine to stay put. In fact, don’t change a thing. Because we — that is, the American people and government — won’t rest until we make Main Street booming and amazing and wholesome again.
We never (and I mean never) advise rural people to leave their shitty little towns — or for that matter to learn new skills or otherwise adapt to inevitable societal changes.
Once again, it is up to immigrants to learn a new language, adapt to a new culture, go to college, open a business, and so on.
The white working class doesn’t even have to graduate high school, and they are entitled to rage against anyone speaking Spanish in their presence.
Everybody got that?
By the way, it might seem absurd to dismiss urban neighborhoods that need a little help, particularly when they are population centers, contain more young people who will be the workforce and taxpayers of the future, and provide more economic and cultural activity than other sections of the country.
But that shows how little you know. Rural America is coming back, damn it.
Of course, the only reason that certain small towns still even exist is because so many Latinos are moving in. I would say that this is ironic, but that’s one of those fancy urban words that have no place among real Americans.
The point remains that America has no interest in saving your barrio. So get used to it.
Featured image: álvaro gm/Flickr