Editor’s note: This article was written by Antonio Castillo, a Brownsville resident, educator, and activist. He is one of the most outspoken critics of Erasmo Castro, a candidate for Brownsville City Commissioner-at-Large B.

Courtesy of #NoMoreCheezmeh

I was born and raised in Brownsville, Texas. I left for college and stayed in the Houston area to start my career in education. While I lived in Houston, I visited Brownsville several times a year. I never really paid attention to Rio Grande Valley politics, social justice events, or symbols of hate until I moved back to my hometown in March of 2015.

One of the things that grabbed my attention was the memorial for Confederate President Jefferson Davis at Washington Park. RGV Hispanics are of mixed Spanish and Native American ancestry. Davis took part in some of the biggest campaigns to remove Native Americans from their land in the Southeastern U.S. As president of the Confederacy, he is the face of white supremacy. The South fought to keep African-Americans enslaved so they could continue benefiting financially from their exploitation. This type of monument does not belong in a public space, especially in a region where people of color make up the majority.

Several local activists and I started a petition asking the Brownsville City Commission to move this monument to a museum where it could serve as a learning tool and not a gathering place for racists. We have received close to 5,000 signatures.

As expected, self-haters, misinformed people, and bigots came out in full force. One of those was Erasmo Castro. He has been a candidate for mayor, democratic county chair, and Brownsville Independent School Board trustee and has lost every race. He is now running for City Commissioner-at-Large B.

Erasmo Castro has shared and mocked several articles and letters published by Brownsville Herald written by me. These include letters related to history, race relations, and social justice. While he has not directly said any slurs, he has joked about African-Americans, LGBTQ, Muslims, low-income residents, single mothers, pregnant women, and other marginalized groups.

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Besides his bigoted memes, he allows his supporters to leave racist and misogynistic comments on his Facebook profile. He “Likes” many of those comments. Any person can imply that liking someone’s comment means that you agree with them. He recently explained to us that he likes the comments to let the reader know that he has already read the comment. He also defended their “freedom of speech.”

Courtesy of Antonio Castillo

This is a person whose nickname, Cheezmeh, is a variation of the Spanish word for gossip (chisme). Can you trust a leader who bases his “facts” on gossip?

Brownsville can do better. We don’t want a chismoso who degrades fellow human beings. Our children look up to our elected officials. It is up to us to put the right people in office.

Antonio Castillo is a teacher and activist in Brownsville, Texas. He is a guest contributor to Neta.