Are Latino Riots Forgotten Because Latinos Want Them To Be?
“To this day, there are Puerto Ricans in Newark who will tell you the riots never happened.”
After delving into the forgotten history of Latino urban riots last year, Indiana University-Bloomington Ph.D. student Aaron G. Fountain, Jr. discovered at least 57 incidents that occurred since 1964.
At the time, he also pinpointed a minimum of 17 Latino riots on their 45th and 50th anniversaries, including a summer 1971 Albuquerque riot where an estimated 500 youth – many Mexican-American – "overturned cars, shattered windows, looted, and severely damaged and destroyed buildings" downtown after police attempted to arrest a young man and later wounded nine people during a small scuffle-turned-brawl.
The scholar has since committed to preserving a past many Latinos opt not to discuss on his interactive map, noting that some might be embarrassed to align with urban rebellions considering they are primarily stamped as the byproduct of African-American rage. Couple that with the fact that Latino immigrants often try to distance themselves from the black community as is, according to sociological studies. “To this day, there are Puerto Ricans in Newark who will tell you the [September of 1974] riots never happened,” Fountain, Jr. recently told CityLab, though the Garden State has seen at least 21 cases of Latino unrest—the greatest number out of any state.
According to his findings, Latino rioting uncovered the stereotype of "Black militancy" and "Latino docility." "Riot shaming, then and now, requires selective memory and voluntary ignorance. At its core, it’s anti-Black," he explained on Latino Rebels last year. "It undermines similar concerns many Latino communities have shared and continue to share with African Americans."
Though the dark clouds of institutional discrimination to generational poverty loom over the heads of both black and brown citizens in the U.S., the Pennsylvania native has been questioned on the motive of his work amid a tense national focus on immigration, which is seen as the overwhelming problem facing Latinos. However, he isn't deterred from his purpose as he keeps his eyes glued to the facts.
“Latinos have been here longer than we think. They’re a crucial part of our history; they have helped shape our understanding of racial politics," he expressed to CityLab. "We need to incorporate them into our discussions about discrimination, unemployment, police brutality. This is not just black and white.”
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