My encounter with anti-Latino racism

· United States
Authors

By Nick Valencia, CNN

Atlanta (CNN) — “Go home!” she yelled at me. “Why don’t you go back home to Mexico before you ruin this country like you ruined your own!”

I was standing in a crowd at the Music Midtown festival in Atlanta, where I live. A few minutes earlier I’d met a group of five people who’d been standing in front of me — here from Mexico City — and I had begun speaking Spanish with them.

Atlanta has a growing Latino community, and I am actively involved. Whenever I get the chance to speak to someone in Spanish here, I introduce myself. My new acquaintances and I were talking about what a great time we were having and how remarkable the city of Atlanta was for bringing back the festival to Piedmont Park.

And that’s when I heard the yelling woman next to me. As if “go home” wasn’t clear enough, the woman — a 20-something Caucasian — repeated the words in Spanish.

“Vete!”

I froze. I didn’t quite know what to say, and I didn’t want to believe she was talking to me or the group of people I had just met.

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