Mexicans are not strangers to shootings, nor are they unused to racism towards other Mexicans, especially against those whose background is indigenous.
Before 1519, the dominant Aztec Empire would make war on neighboring tribes and kill all men they captured. They were so dominant they could simply notify a tribe before a planned attack and that tribe could simply turn over a number of men for sacrifice to avoid battle.
The Aztecs were superior in weaponry and in attitude towards “inferior” tribes. After killing male enemies, they enslaved their women and children. That is what the Spanish found when they arrived in 1519.
With guns, horses and steel, the Spaniards changed everything. Some of what they did figuratively buried millions of people, Indians, for all time.
From the moment they conquered the Aztecs, the Spanish created a racial infrastructure that is basically still in force though no longer embedded in law.
The Spanish imposed a racial classification system that would have humbled Adolph Hitler and the most racist of Americans.
First came people born in Spain, the Peninsulares. Their children born in the Western Hemisphere were Creoles. People born of a Spanish father and Indian woman were considered mixed, or Mestizo. From fourth to 15th in rank were variations of some white, some indigenous, some black and mixed with white or Indian up until the lowest racial group in all of the Americas — people who were pure Indian.
Today the Mexican demographic percentages are 10% pure white, 60% mixed and 30% pure Indian. Mexico has the largest indigenous population of any country in the Western Hemisphere.
Which brings us to the deadly shooting in Allen, Texas, on May 6 by a Mexican American, Mauricio Garcia.
When police announced that the dead shooter had white supremacist and neo-Nazi regalia on his black clothing, Donald Trump Jr. and and other conservative commentators said the shooter couldn’t be a neo-Nazi because he wasn’t white.
But a person of Mexican ancestry can be totally white, of a family entirely from Spain. In fact, many Mexican Americans tell the Census Bureau they are white. And they may think they are white, even though the true history is different.
For example, I knew of my indigenous background, but long thought that my Spanish ancestors came from Contreras, a town in northern Spain. But I was completely surprised by a DNA test.
It turns out I’m 48.9% indigenous, both Mexican and Peruvian. But the other half is quite a mixture: Eastern European (Jewish) 12.5%, British Isles 9.6%, German 9.5%, Italian 8.10%, French 6.4%, Greek 1.8% and lastly, Spanish 1.8%.
Racial identity is complex, and labels like white, black and Hispanic are too simple.
So a neo-Nazi white supremacist can easily have a Hispanic name and still shoot up a mall in Texas.
Raoul Lowery Contreras is a Marine veteran, political consultant, prolific author and host of the Contreras Report on YouTube and ROKU.