Latinos main victims of racism, locals say |

Latinos main victims of racism, locals say

Nikki Katz
Special to the DailyAnti-Semitism, its roots and other forms of racism are the topic of a presentation Jan. 27 at the Vail Interfaith Chapel by Bruce DeBoskey, a regional director of the Anti-Defamation League.

EAGLE COUNTY – “Vail is a melting pot,” said B’Nai Vail board member Josh Lautenberg. “In any community this diverse, there’s going to to be bigotry, and there’s bigotry for every race.”Lautenberg said he’s particularly worried about anti-Semitism, not just in Vail but worldwide.”A lot of people assume that anti-Semitism and bigotry in general are on the decline or fairly flat, but anti-Semitism is actually on the rise in the world,” Lautenberg said.Anti-Semitism and the roots of racism will be the topic of a presentation at the Vail Interfaith Chapel Jan. 27, featuring Bruce DeBoskey, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League.”I want to stimulate people to think about why it is that Jews have been the object of hatred for so many centuries and to explore the myths underlying all forms of bigotry,” DeBoskey said. “The presentation is not just about anti-Semitism. It’s really about challenging people to look at the myths that form the basis of bigotry and racism.”In his presentation, DeBoskey will also discuss the distinction between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism, and address modern examples of racism, he said.”Anti-Semites want to re-create the Holocaust. Genocide is the only method in their minds,” Lautenberg said. “We cannot be complacent about it and say, ‘We’re in modern times. Those things don’t happen anymore.’ They do. They happen to Jews, blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, people of other faiths.”B’Nai Vail and five churches will sponsor the event, “An Interfaith Evening Exploring The Roots of Anti-Semitism.””This is a very good opportunity to educate ourselves,” said B’Nai Vail member Stephanie Schwartz of Edwards. “It should be interesting.”

Lautenberg said he thinks the event is very relevant to the Vail community.”People don’t think of Vail as multicultural, but it is,” he said. “Speaking as a Jew who worries about anti-Semitism, I have a bigger concern for the protection of local Hispanics in this community.”‘A love-hate relationship’Rabbi Jack Gabriel of B’Nai Vail said racism in Vail takes the form of a “love-hate relationship with migrant workers.””The community needs them, and they’re honest, working-class people,” Gabriel said. “If you want people to do all the hard work in your hotels and your restaurants, don’t get angry at them for using your hospitals, schools and clinics. Get angry at the U.S. government that has transferred funds from the poor and middle classes to the ridiculously wealthy.”Gabriel said he sympathizes with the way Latinos are treated in this community.”Any minority wandering into a different neighborhood needs friends, and the Jews tend to play that role here because we understand,” Gabriel said. “And it’s not just about Mexicans. If there were blacks here, they’d be treated that way too.”‘A land of opportunity’

Robert Aikens of Vail said he’s had some bad encounters with prejudice outside of Vail. Racists attacked him once in Huntington Beach, Calif., he said. When the police got involved, they sent Aikens to the hospital.”I remember ‘get up nigger,’ and my head went flying back,” Aikens said.Aikens said he doesn’t remember much more than that about the attack and doesn’t want to.”There are people like that wherever you go, everywhere,” Aikens said. “You can’t let things like that scare you or get you down.”Although Aikens said he’s sure there are racists in Vail, he hasn’t had any bad experiences. He calls Vail “a land of opportunity,” citing his success as the owner of Verbatim Booksellers in Edwards. Aikens said the only racial controversies he’s seen in Vail revolve around illegal immigration and crime, “and that’s not really racial,” he said.”It could be a senior with a 4.0, a white person, at Vail Mountain School getting in trouble. I don’t care who it is,” Aikens said. “If you’re doing your best and working hard, you won’t have problems. If you’re screwing around, you will have people who don’t want you to be here.”Aikens said he recognizes that “the lower economic Latino worker” as a major target for prejudice locally.”I think that stems from both ignorance and, from what I read in the paper, people say they don’t understand our culture or our laws,” Aikens said. “But if I go to Mexico, I can’t say I’d understand.”Racism in the valley

Latina Ana Zuniga of Gypsum said she regularly encountered racism while a student at Eagle Valley High School.”American students would say we were no good and that we should go back to Mexico where we belong,” Zuniga said. “They got detentions, but that didn’t do anything.”Some students even refused to participate in activities with the Latino kids, she said. “We need to teach children in schools that everyone is equal,” Zuniga said.Now, Zuniga said she carefully picks where she goes, even just to run errands, trying to avoid racism.”It’s everywhere,” Zuniga said. “I see it all the time.”Marcos Garcia, a Mexican living in Avon, said he’s been lucky. He hears and sees racism on the streets but has managed to avoid being the target, he said. Garcia knows people worry about the population growing, but “everyone deserves an opportunity,” he said.”We just want to be treated like people,” Garcia said.Vail, Colorado

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