What's So Wrong With Calling Santa Ana a Latino City?

Man, SanTana cracks me up sometimes--okay, ALL THE TIME. The Orange County Register's Andrew Galvin wrote a good piece yesterday ostensibly about efforts by Latino activists to try and persuade the SanTana City Council at this past Monday's meeting to ask its police department to stop impounding vehicles simply because illegal immigrants own them. Part of their appeal was ethnic solidarity--the city is the largest in the United States with an all-Latino city council--but the councilmembers wisely waved that request off.

But then, they just went overboard.

At the meeting, councilmember Vincent Sarmiento, the sole non-Mexi on the council (he's Bolivian, the Mexicans of South America) took back a comment he made at the previous meeting-that SanTana was a "Latino city."

"The question of how Latino this city's identity is, or should be, keeps cropping up, creating a bit of a minefield for the all-Latino City Council, Galvin wrote, adding that Sarmiento told residents at this past meeting that he regretted his previous comment. "We're a multicultural city, and that's what I should have called the city. It isn't a Latino city. It's a multicultural city that's predominantly Latino."

Oh, please. SanTana is one of the most-Latino cities in the United States--what's so wrong with calling it a "Latino city"? Latinos make up only about half of Albuquerque's residents, but no one in the city gets offended if you call it a Hispanic town--hell, they love it, because it plays to their fantasy that everyone is descended from pure-blooded conquistadors. No one bats an eye if someone described Boston as an Irish city, even if the micks lost their demographic control decades ago. Same with noting Milwaukee and its Teutonic essence, Minneapolis and its Scandinavian heritage, the whole of Jersey as Italian-American paradise, and the Miami area as a Cuban enclave. Saying these things don't denigrate Boston's Italians, Milwaukee's Laotians, the Twin Cities' Hmongs and Somalis; they're as much a part of those towns as any ethnic groups.

But you say SanTana is a Latino town, and people start railing about reverse racism and Reconquista--just look at the comments left by whiners when I spell the city's name as SanTana. Shit, people: we gotta learn from El Paso, a place so Mexican that an Irish guy was recently the head of the Mexican American Bar Association, a place so paisa that its premier Latino publishing house is run by a gabacho, a town so accepting of its Mexican reality that no one has a problem--so why should we? Calling SanTana Latino doesn't take away from its Cambodians, its Vietnamese, its gabachos, Samoans and mariposas. Just because it's a Latino city doesn't mean SanTana won't gentrify, won't improve, won't blah blah blah.

For crying out loud, look at the city's official name--it ain't St. Anne, son. This city and its fear of itself, I swear...


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