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.

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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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Article continues after Facebook posts

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.

  • John white

    Antonio Castillo is out of touch with reality. He supports any cause that’s in the news so he can get his name out. He is Obsessed with removing a rock and allowing foreign terrorist into our country. He should focus on actual issues like how our current mayor and city commissioners are fleasing Brownsville for there own gain.
    commissioner Gowen is more concerned with bike trails than the city streets that flood every time it rains.
    I’m sure Antonio is going to call me a racist which is what he does anytime someone doesn’t agree with him.
    I have ancestors that fought in the civil war and i will honor them regardless of what they fought for. And by the way, i have 2 ancestors that fought for the confederacy and 1 that fought for the union. The union uncle owned slaves until 1901. The confederates did not.
    That’s another part of history that Antonio doesn’t want people to know. He is what’s wrong with society today.

    • Jonsie

      From what I can tell, Antonio is very much in touch with reality, more so than you, sir. Claiming someone is doing something for public notoriety is petty and really insignificant in these days of social media. Todays reality is the rift in social acceptance and those who try to suppress inclusion, empathy and justice are attempting to stop progress. Claiming he will call someone a racist at any given discourse just doesn’t make any sense. What about context? As a writer and educator, I’m sure he has some sort of grasp about context. Something you should look into, Mr. White. At this point in time, anyone can have a family member who was on either side of the civil war. After all, it did happen at the end of the nineteenth century. The fact that you see it fitting to validate yourself by associating with someone on either side does not make any of your statements okay or justifiable. You’re claiming Antonio does not want people to know this information, why is it relevant to this article about Erasmo Castillo? Was there something that was left out, Mr. White? Are you providing information relevant to this article about Erasmo Castillo or yourself? Are you really John White? It sounds like the person who is out of touch is you.

  • Claudia Teran

    Erasmo is a disgrace to Brownsville. He often claims he’d like to make Brownsville better, yet puts the citizens down instead of bringing up ideas to improve the city.
    John White, the civil war was about freedom. You can support who you want, it doesn’t change the fact that if you supported the south’ fight for keeping slaves, you are racist. Yes, the north owned slaves, then when they had the realization that it’s not right, they fought to give them freedom.
    You seem to attack he writer for bringing light on to important issues. Although having a statue of the confederate president doesn’t make you racist, giving it a place of honor that he doesn’t deserve is wrong. There are a lot of things wrong with the city, but you are attacking the wrong person.

  • Johnson John

    John White is out to lunch. He defends the indefensible: A war to keep human beings as slaves. In White’s world, the terrorists of black people are “heroes” to be honored and cherished in our Hispanic community. Maybe White should take a look around him and realize he’s not in a like-minded community. Maybe White should go back to where he came from.

  • None of you are Historians so don’t try to be😄😄

    Stop wasting your time with this stupid shit!! Life is too short to be getting upset about irrelevant opinions you WILL NOT change on either side of the aisle. Go take your kids or grandkids to the beach or park👌✌

    • Jonsie

      Stop wasting your time telling people they’re wasting their time.

  • The ONE True Movement

    The Movement will continue, with or without the statue!!

  • Does it even matter

    Regardless of the facts this whole article is completely biased! How can anyone take this article seriously when it is one of the affect parties! It’s like sending a defendant to court when the DA on the case is their ex brother- in- law! Had someone unrelated posted this article I’d be more interested. For now this is just a trash article.

  • Bubba Jayde

    Wellllllll…. it’s Brownsville what do you expect. So would Antonio be a chismoso? I don’t know just asking. Second Erasmo is like that kid that no one chooses to play on their team so he takes the side of whomever he can. He likes and follows the crowd so he can belong, he is no born leader. Oh and about the LBGT thing how can he be against it if he’s one of them. Duhhh. .. just saying

  • Netas Nomas

    This is really incredible and pathetic. Grown ass men squabbling like kids. Tell me who you are associated with… I’ll tell you the kind if person you are. For an educated person who suppose to be an example to others young minds. Open comments and personal issues should be simply kept “Personal ” Activist or not you’re still responsible for educating our children. As a public figure freedom of speech should not be on your agenda… since you’re representing the community as a whole. Both of you have done positives things for our community so please! Tolerance for each other is the key for success and getting things done. Peace

  • jls

    The other side? Brownsville is on the boarder, this is trivial and not informative at all – last dude has it right. In business and money you need to be bipartisan. The haves and have not’s cannot see what the other needs, organization and advocacy! We know the winners end up writing the cultural story so why honor the losers side of history? The people who know the different are not even the ones who can make it count, go talk to somebody.

  • Alexandra G.

    Mr. Castillo has bigger stones for defending “African-Americans, LGBTQ, Muslims, low-income residents, single mothers, pregnant women, and other marginalized groups” instead of insulting them like Mr. Castro.

  • Erasmo

    Yawn….
    -Erasmo