One of the most disgusting things our society has not been able to get rid of is bigotry. Last Monday in the Santa Ana City Council chambers, not only did I see ample evidence that discrimination is alive and well among many of this city's residents, but I also saw in a cowardly show of demagoguery how this discrimination can become institutionalized by an entire city council.
I was proud of the orderly fashion in which the more than 400 Chicano and Latino residents of Santa Ana showed their disapproval of the city's overzealous interpretation of the Uniform Housing Code. Nevertheless, the council decided that this particular interpretation, which is found nowhere else in California, would continue to be enforced. I could not understand why the council was acting this way. Everyone, especially low-income tenants, want habitable conditions in their homes. That can be assured by responsible landlords who maintain their property. However, the City of Santa Ana has decided not to focus on reprimanding slumlords for their exploitation, but rather it is insisting that tenants be evicted due to this unfair view of space availability.
A small group (about 50) of Santa Ana residents attending the hearing showed their support in the continued enforcement of this particular view of the occupancy housing code. After hearing these people talk, I realized what this whole thing meant. The city of Santa Ana is telling its Chicano and Latino residents to get out of Santa Ana. The emotional level of hatred, as evidenced by the ridiculous amount of stereotyping, was phenomenal.
I applaud the Chicanos and Latinos who maintained a dignified stature amidst this attack against them. They were the only ones that showed what it means to be truly American: to protect rights, advocate justice and oppose oppression.