A hate letter to the Rio Grande Valley by Joe Schlechtinger Hamilon, a Winter Texan from Ohio, was published by Valley Morning Star. The letter is being widely criticized by community members for its blatant racism and hate to this border region, and even a fellow Winter Texan couple wrote a response to call Joe out for not taking “much time to understand the history of this area.”
So here’s our breakdown of Joe’s letter with some commentary, for your reading pleasure. Let’s begin.
It all starts by Joe sharing that his own parents, who were also Winter Texans in San Benito, would warn him to lock up his motorcycle when he wasn’t riding it.
“I rode my motorcycle down here and Dad told me to lock it up and chain it to the post when I’m not riding it.
That was strange to me but I did what Dad said. As I left to ride home, I marveled at the beauty of this little town from the interstate.”
Then, Joe comes to the wildly racist realization of why his parents told him to lock up his bike.
“It all makes sense to me now why Mom and Dad didn’t go out of their park for anything, why I was told to lock up the motorcycle, why they stayed happy in a secure park.
In my adventures traveling around San Benito, the first thing I noticed and hated was no one spoke English in San Benito.”
So somehow, Joe has made a connection between his parents asking him to lock up his bike to avoid it being stolen with San Benito being a town with Spanish-speaking residents. But that’s not the worst part. Joe also explains how even “American looking” people speak Spanish.
“Not even the two American looking blond haired blue eyed men in front of the post office. They were talking to each other in Spanish.
As I went to the stores in town I experienced the same thing.
The American-looking lady behind the counter at the gas station greeted me in Spanish and I looked at her with a blank face (I don’t know Spanish). She went to perfect English when she figured out I couldn’t understand her.”
As it turns out, “American looking” means blonde hair and blue eyes, according to Joe. If we can ignore the blatant white supremacist connotations of that statement, it’s just wrong considering the U.S. is home to literally millions of people who don’t match that description.
But Joe disagrees. He needs people to be blonde and blue eyes to feel like he’s in “America.”
“I understand your desire to know Spanish, but Americans in your city should communicate to each other in English.
The Mexicans are more comfortable here than the Americans, especially American visitors.
The Americans in this city have picked up Spanish and made it their language of the city. I don’t even feel like I’m in America when I go to stores, bars, hardware stores, and restaurants.”
Sooo, in conclusion, Joe has decided he will now go “wintering” somewhere else where people speak only English.
“I’m not comfortable in your city. I don’t know Spanish nor do I want to learn it.
I can’t make friends with your local citizens. I can’t understand anybody.
It’s not the correct answer for me to learn Spanish, the correct answer is speak English in your American city.
Let the Mexicans be the visitors. I’ll learn Spanish if I need to know it. I don’t need to know it.
I’ll be looking for a different city next winter when it’s time to winter down here.
I’ll find an English-speaking city somewhere here where it’s warm.”