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UCLA law professor: US should pay reparations to Latinos

A University of California Los Angeles law professor argues in her new book “Inventing Latinos: A New Story of American Racism” that the United States should pay reparations to the Latino community.

As reported by The Tennessee Star, UCLA Critical Race Studies Program co-founder Laura Gómez said in an interview last month that while reparations for African-Americans is “a long due conversation,” those for Latinos also are needed in part due to the destruction of Central America’s “indigenous way of life” by the US military and big corporations.

Gómez advocates asylum for Central Americans (just like that provided to the Vietnamese after the war, and for Cubans post-Castro) and amnesty for illegal immigrants currently residing in the US.

“Again, we’re looking at a different story of anti-Latino racism,” the professor said. “And so what does that suggest in terms of what we might do as a society to make amends, repair the relationship, and bring people into the fold as full-fledged Americans.”

Gómez also argues Latinos should be seen as a racial, rather than ethnic, group:

Ethnicity tends to be something that we think of with respect to white people. Your parents came from Italy or your parents were Eastern European Jews. What we’ve seen with those immigrant groups over time is that within a couple of generations in the U.S., they assimilate. So the narrative for a long time about Latinos was, oh, they’re going to be just like those groups. They’re going to assimilate after a couple of generations. But lo and behold, that hasn’t happened, partly because there’s been a constant influx, unlike with Italians and other groups. For Latinos, it has continued continuously from 1848, when the U.S. took half of Mexico’s territory and people.

Even third- and fourth- and fifth-generation Mexican Americans experience discrimination. They tend to live in segregated neighborhoods and go to segregated schools. This looks more like racism and less like ethnic conflict. I’m not the first one to say this, but I’m trying to put forward the claim that Latinos are actually thought of by most of us as a racial group, so let’s solve problems based on that idea …

Gómez’s book was praised by Ed Morales of Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race who said it is “solidly grounded in historical research and critical race theory” and “enriched by the author’s personal testimony.”

Three years ago, Gómez was involved in the firing of conservative UCLA professor Keith Fink, a frequent critic of the university’s positions on student free speech. Gómez had told Fink a review of teaching concluded it did “not meet the standard of excellence.”

Read the Star article and Gómez interview.

MORE: UVA considers reparations for descendants of slave laborers

MORE: Foreign prime minister demands slavery reparations from Harvard

IMAGE: Tashatuvango / Shutterstock.com

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