Editor’s note: Today, we debut a new column penned by members of Orange County Immigrant Youth United, a longtime non-profit that has fought the good fight for years not just for undocumented folks, but against civic, police, and sheriff corruption, transphobia, and all sorts of other OC nastiness. Every week, they’ll bring us their perspectives on issues local and national—enjoy!
By Hairo Cortes
By now news, of Diana Carrillo’s stand against nativism in Orange County have travelled far and wide, but to summarize briefly for those who may not be up to speed: last weekend, Diana, like many in my age group, hoped to find some time to relax and be with friends. She eventually decided to dine at Saint Marc in Huntington Beach. Upon sitting down, Diana says a server asked for proof of residency from her and her friends before being attended—a request completely against state law and the restaurant’s own policy, though very much in line with ever-bolder patterns of discrimination and xenophobia brought on by 45’s successful march to the White House.
This throwback to the overt discrimination Mexicans experienced in the past would’ve made many of us recoil and flinch. But Diana responded in a way that must become more common if we are to make it through the next four years.
She spoke up.
First, she brought up the issue to the restaurant’s manager, and then she shared her story over social media so as to not normalize discrimination against immigrants, even though she’s not one herself (she’s the daughter of immigrants). In doing so, Diana showed us how to fight.
Today, that waiter has lost their job, proving that even in the neo-Nazi capital of Orange County, there is hope for justice to prevail. The restaurant’s managers have attempted to control the PR nightmare that followed by offering Diana and her friends VIP treatment (which they declined), as well as pledging to donate 10% of the weekend’s sales to the nonprofit of Diana’s choice. She graciously chose Orange County Immigrant Youth United for the donation despite allure of the larger, traditional nonprofits most good-hearted folks prioritize in their anti-Trump gift-giving nowadays.
This week, I had an opportunity to speak with Diana. Earlier, she told the Orange County Register she wouldn’t stand for any sort of bigotry because “I feel that’s the direction we’re headed in, given who’s the president. That’s one of the reasons I posted [the incident] on social media rather than just dealing with the restaurant.”
What she said energized me and gave me hope that as long as people like her are out there, we’re gonna be alright. She told me, “I want the restaurant to make changes to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
Maybe as she was getting ready to go out last weekend, Diana had one thing in mind—to have a fun night with her friends, a night that would belong to them and no one else. But when OC’s eternal anti-Mexican ways emerged, she stepped up, corrected an injustice, and—most important of all—did so not out of anger for a ruined night, but out of concern and love for her community.
This week, Diana showed us how to fight.
Hairo Cortes is Program Coordinator for Orange County Immigrant Youth United