My small, upstate NY town is pretty racist and bigoted. They haven’t had much experience with minorities and are still very closed minded. This still happens in many small towns in all cities. Hispanics, African-Americans, Jews and Gays are all subjects of mistrust, misunderstanding and often hatred. This was a large manufacturing town before the early 90’s and little by little companies began closing and moving to Mexico to save on production costs. Of course no one here thought to blame the companies. They automatically blamed the Mexicans. I suppose it was easier for them to blame foreigners than face the fact that profits were more important to manufacturers than any responsibility they might feel toward the community.
At that time, tension was high, but bigotry was even higher. I began to hear talk about the “Mexicans who took our jobs”. It got to the point where I was more than reluctant to mention my Mexican heritage for fear I’d be ostracized from the community or something even worse. How sad it is when you have to resort to denying who you are for fear of retaliation. I had remembered reading that many Germans blamed the Jews for supposedly taking all their jobs. This lead me to wonder how many Jews were forced to denounce their faith during World War II and the holocaust. Letting it be known you were a Jew lead to an almost certain death. What an awful choice to be forced to make. How many of us would have the courage to die for what we believe?