A Failure in Branding

Here’s a letter to the editor from the El Paso Times:

Here in my hometown, I have never witnessed the kind of hatred and bigotry that so many other cities across the nation are dealing with. I am grateful for the diversity of our city, and the mutual respect I witness daily for those of different ethnic and religious backgrounds and beliefs.

No, here, our hatred and bigotry is more oblique. More subtle. More entrenched.

El Paso’s cool with Mexicans. Our official policy is that we’re cool with Mexicans as long as they look like Penelope Cruz or Matthew McConaughey. If they look like mestizos, though, we move the bus stops and knock down their barrio to sweep them under the rug.

Remember, this is the official branding policy of the City of El Paso.  The policy was adopted in 2006, and has remained in place unmodified since then.

That’s why we erected a statue memorializing Don Juan de Oñate, the butcher of Acoma, who killed and maimed Native Americans. That’s why the City gives out Conquistador Awards to its favorite citizens, even though the conquistadores enslaved peaceful indigenous populations, trafficking them through this area to work in their mines along the Camino Real. That’s why the City is intent on colonizing downtown, to remove the unsightly impoverished Mexican-Americans who live there so the rich can watch basketball from luxury suites.

But effective branding is rooted in authenticity. If you’re a zebra, you can’t tell everyone that you’re a quarterhorse. El Paso can’t pretend to be home to the rich and famous when we are the poorest Metropolitan Statistical Area of its size in the United States.

And when you look at recent history through a prism of classist exclusion, everything makes more sense.

15 comments

  1. Hey. I’ve got a news flash for the powers that be. We’re running out of white people. Especially old white people. Rats deserting a sinking ship. Border violence, stupid high taxes, brutal road construction projects and mentally challenged leadership. Pretty soon we’re gonna run out of Mexicans too.

    1. I wouldn’t say rats, I’d say smart people who can afford to get out. There’s many other smart people of all races stuck in the rathole that has become the city of El Paso, and the rats are the taxing entities.

    2. I agree with this content.
      However, why do we have to include race? Including White people and Rats in the same comment is ridiculous, ignorant, and Offensive on multiple
      Levels.

  2. Ballsy post from the Man. Yes, the City of El Paso treats the residents of our barrios like furniture. Shameful.

  3. Ah come on. Don’t confuse City Council with the rest of us. I really don’t want to start anything here, but there is no record anywhere of Onate following through with his threat to chop off feet. Does anyone really believe there would be no record of such an atrocious act? If my great great grandpa had his foot chopped off I can guarantee you the family would tell the story over and over and write it down. The military leaders and priests played good cop/bad cop. Military leaders threatened, priests sheltered and converted. You know there are actually only 27 Anglos in El Paso, so who is doing the colonizing? Really guy. Don’t ask me to contribute to your blog when you engage is this type of rhetoric.

    1. The record’s pretty clear. I spent ten minutes on the internet and I couldn’t find anyone who said that Oñate didn’t cut a foot off of 24 men. Of course, it’s historical, so who’s to say that the earth isn’t only 6,000 years old?

      I’m not claiming it’s racist. I’m saying it’s classist. The City (note I use Capital C City when I talk about the institution) is trying to cram top-down gentrification of downtown through the use of our tax dollars. Does that seem right to you?

      I appreciate your financial support, but it you want to affect our editorial policies, you ought to throw a lot more zeroes onto the end of your PayPal donations. A lot more. I’m easy, but I’m not cheap.

      God bless you, Mr. Hope. Thanks for reading, and thanks for commenting.

  4. The writer of the letter to the editor was referring his/her personal experience. Twice the writer employed the verb “witnessed,” at least in the portion that Rich chose to copy and paste. Certainly the writer was not around during the time of Oñate…

  5. I bear an uncanny resemblance to Penelope Cruz. It’s a curse. Much in the same way that Dee Margo is the spittin’ image of Martin Bormann. Neither one of us is thrilled by being defined and marginalized in this way. Even though in Dee’s case it’s totally appropriate. I’m sure if Dee was confronted with the dilemma of cutting off the feet of the kind and gentle folk of El Paso to maintain order he would give it serious thought before he acted.

  6. So I say the world is square. I’ve looked on the internet and no one say’s it’s not. So therefor it must be square. Same is true of Onate and the absent foot myth. Lot’s of people say it happened because myths are repeated, especially the juicy ones. No one has proof. And I’m pretty sure there would be written documentation of a bunch of guys with one foot if it were true. Sorry, innocent until proven guilty.

  7. Waa waa waaa. Nice long virtue signaling article. Maybe people should go back in time and see what it was like living in a time where people got killed for real for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Wander out alone past the watering hole? Might end up dead with no scalp. Ride up on a stage too fast? Might get summa that lead. Want peace? Make war. Both “sides” did that, lots. This whole social justice crusade is stupid. Who didn’t conquer? Crying about something you have zero first-hand knowledge of is stupid, virtue signaling about it is even more stupid. Somebody has to be alive to be honored, a statue of a dead person is called history. If they are the reason something big happened, surely someone else lost. The world has always been that way, and there is no way that everyone can be winners. For every fat, happy lion there is a sad family of gazelles.

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