(Chicano Moratorium Day - 1970 - not so different 40 years later)
In my ongoing look at the history behind Immigration, the Latin-American community, the history of protest, the history of racism and the fact that some things just never change, I ran across this documentary produced by Los Angeles radio station KNX in 1970. Part of their "Assignment '70" series, this one was called The Silent Minority. It was produced in December of 1970, capping a year of wide ranging protests, a lot of which turned violent and sparked outrage particularly in Los Angeles with the murder of journalist and newsman Ruben Salazar and several others during one march.
Kind of an annoying documentary (only in the sense they keep up with the music bed that overpowers the voices at times), it nonetheless focuses on a situation that's as much a part of American society now as it was then - racism and how, in its subtle as well as overt forms, has overshadowed solutions to problems for decades.
Russ Powell (KNX Newsman): “When California was re-districted in 1961 the more than one million Mexican-Americans were left without a single political district in which they had a majority.”
Martin Castillo: “I remember the reapportionment of California. I went up to Sacramento as a matter of fact, at my own expense to try to prevail upon the power structure that then existed to reapportion it one area where we get one guy elected. And they turned me down flat.”
Although in forty years the proportions have changed (whites are no longer the majority racial group in California), the subtle and not-so-subtle vestiges of racial profiling and discrimination are still very much evident. The heat may be on Arizona at the moment, but taking a walk around Los Angeles and seeing the occasional sign posted declaring "Arizona Had The Right Idea" makes one wonder if anything actually has changed in 40 years.
It would be nice to think so - but there is that thing called Reality that's always showing up.