Benjamin Ramirez Incident Tips the Elote Cart on Latinx Divisions
Screengrab from ABC-TV Channel 7 newscast
By Erik Garcia
When Carlos Hakas infamously shoved Benjamin Ramirez's elote and raspado cart to the ground, it showed white Latinx attitudes towards the darker-skinned among us in action. Was it purely coincidental that the pendejo who confronted the elote man on a Hollywood street corner was an Argentine of lighter skin complexion? Was it coincidental that the foul-mouthed woman accompanying Hakas was also lighter than Ramirez? Not a chance!
Ramirez, a brown Mexican street vendor, became a target of the two and their snootiness. The mere presence of Ramirez's cart offended Hakas, who claimed it blocked the sidewalk he walked on. It didn't. Harassed before, Ramirez knew what to do this time in recording the entire confrontation and standing his ground. While the outpouring of support for Ramirez was wonderful to see, it's important to understand this kind of thing happens on a daily basis—perhaps not as blatant, but certainly as detrimental to the Latinx community, documented or otherwise.
And the divide in the Latinx community extends beyond color. There is a clear tension between those born in the United States, and immigrants from Latin America; one that functions in turning communities against each other and stepping on others while climbing their way to get as close to privileged America as they can. Take the case of Raymond Herrera, a muy moreno Mexican-American Marine veteran that the Weekly's Mexican-in-Chief equates to a Mexi "Uncle Ruckus" (though, not even half as funny!). He’s been harassing Oakview ComUNIDAD, a group of Latinx activists from Huntington Beach’s predominantly Mexican Oakview neighborhood, for months now at city events.
He targets one Oakview member, Oscar Rodriguez, in particular, labeling him an "illegal alien," though Rodriguez was born in the U.S. Herrera also blasts HB’s city council for "betraying" the president and the constitution by being a sanctuary city—even though it's not!
Mother of all elotes
Illustration by Lalo Alcaraz
Another example is Jorge Ramirez, an undocumented Oceanside minister and President Trump supporter who encouraged his daughter to vote for Trump. Inspired by his conservative religious beliefs, the minister supported Trump's “kick the bad guys out” rhetoric on immigration. Now he’s in line for deportation; a twist of irony that goes to show that we’re all “bad immigrants” in the eyes of la migra.
The little bit of privilege some Latinxs have over others is enough to divide us in wake of the Trump administration. As a Latinx community, we need to stand together and advocate for each other not tear each other down, and certainly not topple what we've built like Hakas did with Ramirez's cart. We build our community by remaining resilient like Ramirez when standing his ground. We build our community by standing in solidarity as we did with Ramirez. We sustain our community by riding it of the kind of bigotry and elitism displayed by Hakas.
Rallying around Ramirez hopefully gives second thoughts to the next Hakas out there ready to topple our livelihoods to prove we are less than they. You mess with one kernel, you mess with the whole cob!