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Facing a sad Christmas, Mexican Americans still grieve for El Paso

Ruben Navarrette Jr. on

Americans will mark the anniversaries of Selma, Kent State, Wounded Knee and the Stonewall riots -- any tragedy with a constituency -- for decades after the event.

Yet, over the last few months, many people have been eager to get past the worst massacre of Mexicans and Mexican Americans since the land grab known as the U.S.-Mexican War. One reader told me to stop writing about the shooting, lest I become "just another obnoxious Mexican."

I won't stop. For a columnist, "obnoxious" is part of the job description. Besides, the people who died deserve to be remembered, along with why they died. Let's not sugarcoat racism to make it easier to swallow. We can't stamp it out for good, until we call it out by name.

In a hail of bullets, we got the message loud and clear. Some of you will never see us as your equal, or accept the fact that we belong in this country as much as you do.

That's your problem. We're here. We've been here for generations. In fact, when your grandparents came out to the Southwest from Ohio, Missouri and Oklahoma, we welcomed them. And we're not going anywhere.

Meanwhile, in the border city they call "El Chuco," it's no surprise that the song "Amor Eterno " (Eternal Love), by the Mexican singer Juan Gabriel, has become the unofficial anthem of the horror.

"Tanto que me duele que no estés. ... Como quisiera que tú vivieras."

 

(How much it pains me that you're not here. ... How I wish that you were still living.)

The haunting ballad will break your heart, just like the atrocity that left so much of my community limping into this holiday season battered and bruised. But not broken.

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Ruben Navarrette's email address is ruben@rubennavarrette.com. His daily podcast, "Navarrette Nation," is available through every podcast app.

(c) 2019, The Washington Post Writers Group

 

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