Recently, a former NBC News correspondent named Joe Gomez resigned from his post as press secretary of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Gomez happened to be the only Latino employee at FAIR and quit after filing a complaint with Washington D.C.’s Office of Human Rights (yes, really) about, what he claims, were “racial comments, racially charged comments, [and] racial slurs.” Basically, Gomez complained that his human rights were being violated because he can’t take a razzing.
(Editor’s note: Gomez on January 30, 2019, retracted his claims, stating, “I never reported to any of my supervisors at FAIR that I was discriminated against or subjected to a hostile work environment on any basis throughout my employment. I voluntarily resigned my position from FAIR on July 17, 2018.”)
FAIR’s mistake was hiring the wrong brown person, one whose sensibilities are liberally inclined enough work for NBC. Naturally, it follows that Gomez went to the Office of Human Rights and, of course, the Southern Poverty Law Center, when his feelings were hurt. Alternatively, Gomez might have shot back with “gringo,” “cracker,” or “honky,” all of which are virtually formal speech now. Giving back verbal abuse as good as you get it is the American Way.
Given the way Gomez handled this workplace razzing, however, you would think that calling someone a “spic”—the term he claims was the slur of choice—is tantamount to Brown Genocide. When I was a kid, I got called a “beaner,” and more often than not by other beaners. “Spic” is an upgrade. Anyway, far be it from me to find “spic” more offensive than “cracker” or “gringo.”
Gomez’s thin skin—being the product of today’s infantilizing culture—aside, I can’t help but laugh when Latinos cry racism. This might strike some as crazy, but Latinos generally are among the most prolific purveyors of casual racism, and it is a de facto pan-Latino pastime verbally to harass, berate, and mercilessly insult one another. Snitching is a sign of weakness.
Gomez claims that he was prodded for having “a map of Latin America” in his office. Good.
Gomez also says that he was made fun of for his inability to speak Spanish. This makes me wonder, is Gomez even Latino? Not because he can’t speak Spanish, but because getting teased of for not being able to speak Spanish is quite literally an everyday occurrence in Latino households. My mom, for example, will shame me for this from time to time. Will the SPLC save me from momma Gonzalez? Please?
There is nothing in this hit story against FAIR by Gomez that merits the outrage he has endeavored to stir up. It seems as if he jotted down every teasing he received specifically for the purpose of embellishing and relaying it later. I can’t help but wonder if FAIR was set up by Gomez.
That said I am more upset by the fact that it appears likely FAIR hired Gomez in particular because he is brown, and not because his views align with their own on immigration. However, if FAIR ever needs another voice-over guy, I’m their man. Just don’t ask me to speak Spanish.
Editor’s note: Gomez has submitted a “retraction of all claims of unlawful conduct” that he “asserted against FAIR and its employees.” He adds in his signed statement: “I never reported to any of my supervisors at FAIR that I was discriminated against or subjected to a hostile work environment on any basis throughout my employment.”