Hispanics shoulder hardships, racism

With the passing of Martin Luther King Jr. Day this week, I began thinking about racism in this country. Does it still exist?

Although the United States has taken great strides in the past four decades regarding civil rights, I came to the conclusion that sadly, racism is still a problem. In this region of the nation, one ethnic group in particular — Hispanics — seems to be especially discriminated against.

I have grown up in this area my entire life, and unfortunately, I have been sickened most of my life by the amount of racism here. With the influx of Hispanic immigrants, namely Mexicans, in the last decade, I have also noticed an increase in prejudice against them. The Latino population in Missouri alone has increased 92 percent over the last 10 years. Although this state ranked only 24th in total Mexican population in 2000 with 77,887, that population had increased 103.5 percent since 1990 according to the Inter-University Program for Latino Research. With this rise in population, an increase in racism has also occurred. People complain that Mexicans are taking all our jobs; they aren’t educated; they are in the United States, so they should always speak our language; they are border-jumpers who don’t belong here and should stay in their own country. I won’t even mention the racial slurs.

My arguments against these complaints have always been the same:

*If someone wants that job instead, that person should try harder to get that job instead of sitting around complaining.

*According to a business Web site from St. Louis Community College, more than the majority of Mexicans in the United States have a high school diploma.

*While Mexicans are required to learn English by immigration laws, they do not have to speak English all the time because, as many people are unaware, the United States does not have an official language.

*Some Mexicans do cross the border illegally, but most enter this country the proper way. And I don’t believe anyone who says they wouldn’t leave one country to come to another that offers a better life for them and their family.

*For anyone who uses racial slurs, they are simply uneducated themselves. In fact, Mexicans are helping, not hurting, our country by stimulating the economy. According to The American Immigration Law Foundation, the Mexican workforce played a vital role in helping the U.S. unemployment rate fall from 6.3 percent in 1990 to 3.9 in 2000. Mexican immigrants were 2 percent of the labor force in 1990. That figure doubled by 2000 to 4 percent. Obviously, the racism against Mexican immigrants lacks validity. In fact, racism is wrong, period.