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Roxana A. Soto is a Staff Writer for MamásLatinas. She's a bilingual and bicultural journalist born in Peru and raised in Mexico, Argentina, South Africa and Miami. She's also mom to a kindergartener and a toddler. She loves languages, traveling and good food - especially if it's cooked by someone else.Read More
So I just found out that membership in the Ku Klux Klan is up in Colorado--the state I've been calling home for the past five years--and I shivered. I'm not naive enough to think that the white supremacist way of thinking has been abolished, but to actually go and join the KKK in this day and age seems a bit too much for me. Then again, given the current state of immigration affairs in this country, who am I kidding, right?
When I tell other Latinos that I moved from Miami to Colorado, they always want to know how I've dealt with the discrimination I supposedly should have experienced here. And I never have anything to say because, unless I'm either blind or deaf, I can honestly say that I've never felt like I was being treated any differently because of the color of my skin, my loud Latina Spanish-speaking ways or my accent in English.
But maybe things will change now that the KKK is reporting that membership is booming in Colorado. How scary! And what's worse is that the trend doesn't seem to be specific to Colorado. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of "radical right groups"--which includes hate groups, "Patriot" groups and nativist groups--went up in 2010 for the second years in a row.
Unsurprisingly, so have hate crimes and this, of course, is directly related to the surge within the Latino population. According to data collected separately by both the National Institute of Justice and the FBI, there has been a steady and disproportionate rise in anti-Latino hate crimes in the past 8 to 9 years. Here in Colorado, just in Durango (in the southwest part of the state) where the KKK has a long history, there were three hate crimes reported in 2009, four in 2010 and 19 in 2011.
What's really worrisome is to find out the types of people driving the KKK's boom in membership, It includes college-educated, professionals, teachers and even a couple of congressmen, according to Cole Thornton, Imperial Grand Wizard of the United Northern and Southern Knights of the KKK, which claims to be the largest KKK offshoot in the United States and is active in Colorado. "People would be amazed to know who I've talked with at midnight in isolated areas--it's almost comical," he said.
Really? What's so comical about a bunch of white supremacists getting together to plan how to get rid of all of those who don't look like them? Sorry, but I don't get it.
What do you think about the boom in KKK membership in Colorado? Do you think this white supremacist group can regain strength?
Image via minds-eye/flickr