The Santa Ana Sentinel

Tension, Resentment and Distrust Rise to the Surface

Posted in Opinion by Omar Ávalos Gallegos on August 26, 2011

The recent insult made by councilwoman Claudia Álvarez to downtown property owner Irving Chase, which she apologized for the day after, reveals the seriously deep level of tension, resentment and distrust that some Whites and Latinos in Santa Ana’s downtown have towards one another.

This incident at city hall will serve to expose this problem. There still is an underlying distrust and misunderstanding on both sides and neither side is right to damn the other.

I have been patient up to now about not exposing the racism that I have experienced in the downtown, for the sake of focusing on people’s better selves, but there are less than exemplary people in the downtown that have made blatant remarks like “the white man is taking over,” and the incorrectly generalizing comment “these people” in reference to me and people of my Mexican background, made by a hot-headed and bitter employee in the downtown. What am I supposed to think when blatantly disrespectful comments like these are made in front of me? The arrogance and the audacity of making comments like these in a majority Latino city is outrageous and wrong. These are only two examples but there are more.

Indifferential, and disrespectful, attitudes towards Latinos do exist in the downtown. You and I would be naïve to think otherwise.

Herein lies the reason for distrust on the part of Latinos towards Whites in the downtown. Some Latinos do not trust the intentions of property owners, new businesses and their collective. It turns out that Álvarez has been influenced by the voices of distrust.

At the end of the day, not all is bad. The balance of my positive and negative experiences with Whites leans towards positive. There are those less than exemplary types and those that have treated me with genuine respect and appreciation.

It may be easy to think that racism is the cause for the ousting of the political hot potato known as El Centro Cultural de México, an organization that no one ever bothers to criticize openly, but they didn’t help themselves by defacing a historic building nor by being poorly organized. The Knights of Pythias building, where El Centro is being evicted from, is owned by the Chases. I’ll delve further and save any criticisms of El Centro in a different article. And why would I dare to criticize this group? Because I’m a Mexican citizen in addition to an American citizen and I always want Mexico to be portrayed in a better light. El Centro fails to do this because they give an incomplete picture of Mexican culture.

It may be that the ousting of El Centro is what caused councilwoman Álvarez to side with the emotional voices of distrust and pick her battles but Ms. Álvarez, we can do better than that. It should be stated that other council members appealed to have El Centro’s lease extended but they too should know that we can do better. It became a touchy issue and it upset many but notice the pattern of instability that El Centro has shown over the years and just know that things can be done better.

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4 Responses

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  1. Matt said, on August 26, 2011 at 10:31 am

    I agree with you, primo. I think we have to make allies, not enemies in order to improve Santa Ana for all if it’s communities. There are other segments of the Mexican Anerican population, such as like later generation communities like my family, that appreciate the improvements and developments. We must still be mindful of racial microagressions and always resist and make our presence known, not hide and boycott. If the white man is taking over, we must take over too for all of the diverse Latino communities in Santa Ana!

  2. O. Ian Ávalos - Santa Ana, CA said, on August 26, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Yeah, I’ve been telling local people to get a piece of the economic pie (own a business, own a building) all along. I say come up through education and study business. There is no excuse, and let’s not give any other ethnic group a reason or excuse to accuse us of being underachieving.

  3. Gustavo Arellano said, on August 30, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    First off, Irv Chase does not own the Knights of Pythias building—that would be his father-in-law and another man by the name of Mr. Williams. I would know this, unlike your assuming self, because I was involved with the Centro for a long time. If you can’t get this simple fact straight, any insight you may have into an organization you do not belong to is laughable, if not outright foolish. But go ahead and pontificate—I need a good laugh, especially since the Centro has done more to better the city than you can ever hope to in a lifetime of guitar strums. Toodles!

    • O. Ian Ávalos - Santa Ana, CA said, on August 30, 2011 at 7:05 pm

      You know what I mean you sensationalist moron. That family is involved with that building and they are the ones being attacked because you folks don’t know how to run an organization. Why has that organization been booted out of places over and over? U huh. Exactly. And why are you no longer involved with them? I’m so sorry to batter your gargantuan ego. Furthermore it has always been my intention to NOT let the likes of you or your fan club at el centro know what I’m up to. I know that you people wouldn’t be able to execute or help with an external idea because of your bickering and lack of leadership. So keep recycling your son jarocho (que ciertamente, de ahí no salen y no saben de otra) and good luck transitioning from communists to capitalists in your attempts at purchasing a building or not getting kicked out of another one. Guess what I was there the other night and there are people that told me that the organizational structure in there is wrong.

      In addition, Santa Ana is more than son jarocho and cumbias.


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