Long Island Murder, Immigration And Racism

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[Comment: Racial Intolerance]

Since Barack Obama’s historic presidential victory, many have been singing eulogies about the end of racism. The vicious stabbing death of 37-year-old Ecuadorean immigrant, Marcelo Lucero, is a sobering reminder of that dangerous fallacious supposition.

Lucero was stabbed to death after being beaten up by seven youths in Patchogue, Long Island. Lucero, who worked at a dry cleaning business, came to America 16 years ago. He was apparently a hard-worker who sent money to his family in Ecuador where he was building a home for them.

This sadistic murder happened only a few miles south of Farmingville, Long Island’s Ground Zero for anti-immigration xenophobes. It was the scene of the highly publicized near-death beating of two Mexican day-laborers, in 2001. It is also the town where, in 2003, the home of a Latino family was burnt down while they were sleeping.

Some people are asking where this hatred is coming from. Well, let’s start here: Long Island is America’s most segregated suburb. Its clear there’s a culture of exclusion cultivated by skin-color bigotry, here.

Remember, last year when nooses were swinging all across the country? Well, a couple of those incidents happened on Long Island, including a noose found in a Hempstead Police Department locker-room. Some community leaders feel the noose was a symbol of resentment by some officers, as a result of the promotion of Black Police Deputy, Willie Dixon.

More importantly this resentment and hatred is mushrooming across Long Island, especially, as racial and ethnic demographics shift bringing with it issues such as competition for jobs and housing. Moreover, opportunistic pundits and politicians have hijacked the immigration issue for there own self-serving purposes.

Enter Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy. Recently, Levy made an appearance on Long Island’s Channel 12, supposedly, to decry the murder of Lucero. In my view, this was a transparent damage control stunt. For, Levy has used the immigration issue to advance his career.

Levy stated, during his emotionless, wooden speech, that "In the aftermath of this barbaric racial killing, we are left wondering how seven teenagers could allegedly commit such an act." Who’s he fooling? Politicians like him have been straddling the line of bigotry on this toxic topic for years. Given the country’s economic anxiety how can anybody claim to be surprised when the racism lying deep in the hearts of many lead to murder?

Historically, in times of economic unrest, the majority population in America has always been given, by politicians and elites, a scapegoat to blame. Once, Blacks were the scapegoats. The destruction of the city of "Black Wall Street" is one example. By 1921 the Greenwood section, of Tulsa, Oklahoma was home to one of the 20th Century’s most successful Black towns known as "Black Wall Street." This highly prominent area had over 600 successful businesses including: movie theaters, law offices, a bank, a hospital, libraries, restaurants, groceries, a post office and several private airplanes.

Unfortunately, in the 1920’s Ku Klux Klan membership was on the rise, and would reach its zenith during this period. Amid this backdrop, on May 31, 1921 the Tulsa Tribune published a story based on the claim of a white woman, Sarah Paige, that she was assaulted by Dick Rowland, an African American. This story was all the pretext jealous whites needed to destroy this thriving town. The death toll is known to be much higher than the 26 Blacks reported, and more than a thousand businesses and homes were obliterated.

Now political provocateurs, like Levy, insist their issue is only illegal immigration. People like him, and CNN’s sanctimonious Lou Dobbs, feign ignorance about how the lines can be easily blurred between the two; in a nation as racist as America. Are they really as obtuse as they pretend?

When Dobbs rails about immigration, speciously insisting that "illegal immigrants" are a terror threat, how can people be surprised kids who grow up in intolerant neighborhoods, and homes, would react with violent hostility toward immigrants, especially, Latinos who are presumed to be here "illegally"? Dobbs has blood on his hands. Pity the Native Americans had no Immigration Department.

Tragically, one of the alleged killers of Lucero is of both Hispanic and Black heritage. Remember, during the Sean Bell Case, when we were told racism couldn’t be considered part of the equation because of the involvement of a few Black cops in Bell’s murder? If we take that absurd argument to its logical conclusion, Lucero’s murder can’t be a hate crime, since one perpetrator is a Black Latino, now can it?

In fact, what this demonstrates is the self-hate that’s a by-product of assimilated bigotry and racism. Isn’t this self-hate endemically manifested in the inter-neighborhood violence we witness in Black and Latino communities?

Here’s the harsh truth, at the root of this killing: white racism is fearful its influence is waning. America is undergoing fundamental demographic and political change, and the Latino influence is a profound part of that. In fact, President-Elect Barack Obama’s victory was won, arguably, in the Latino community, where he received around 67 percent of their vote.

We were told Latinos wouldn’t vote for him, yet it was whites who voted 55 percent against Obama. Latinos, Blacks and progressive whites must remain steadfast against bigots and those benefiting from bigotry. I have a premonition 2009 will usher in an upsurge in hate crimes, like this murder of Lucero.

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