“I didn’t even know Mexicans were that smart.” — Emily Austen
A few weeks ago, like many of you, I saw Fox Sports reporter Emily Austen “trying to be funny” on a Facebook Live video while appearing on the broadcast of “The Rundown” on Barstool Sports. With the recent influx of live videos on Facebook, novice handlers have been caught with their mouths open and pants down. In Austen’s case, her off-color remarks about Mexican immigrants, Chinese students, the Jewish community, and NBA player Kevin Love cost her a career. Like a bad scary movie, I watched in horror as she made one bad decision after the next. And like most actors in bad scary movies, it might be a long time before Austen appears on-camera again—if ever.
It’s safe to say that Fox Sports did what they had to do and parted ways with Austen immediately. I tried to do the same, but I kept hearing her words in my head—I didn’t even know Mexicans were that smart.
Through my experiences coaching women for the last two years, I’ve grown accustomed to spotting limiting beliefs. We all have them, and sometimes they’re a part of our daily dialogue. Insomuch as we become immune to the way they sound. They’re ingrained in us, but they weren’t always there, I remind my clients (and myself).
Growing up in an area where ninety percent of the population is Hispanic, we were taught to suppress those voices with our fists. That’s just how it was, and by the time I reached high school, fists turned to knives and guns. I lost friends at the wrong end of that equation—very permanent solutions were made for very temporary problems. And after I left home, I found out that I was no longer a member of the ninety percent, but rather a minority to the rest of the country. And I started experiencing some truth to my dad’s words, being Hispanic meant that I had to work ten times harder than everyone else for the same opportunities.
“Mexicans are hard workers,” one of the show’s hosts blurts out a few minutes after Austen’s damage had been done. WE ARE! But, I guess hard work only refers to hard labor—not pursuing a college education, not climbing the corporate ladder, not performing surgery, not taking the bar, and not being sworn in as the President of the United States.
We’re only housekeepers, gardeners, and cheap labor. You can find us waiting outside for a truck to pull up at Home Depot—not at school, not at a corporate position, not as a doctor, not as a lawyer, not in the Oval Office.
We’ve been fattening the bellies of tolerance lately, spoon-feeding it with a golden shovel, the whole I’m-not-a-racist-I-simply-make-racial-remarks type of statements that are consuming our minds and corrupting our hearts. I’m glad that people were outraged by Austen’s video, and though I wanted to join the thousands of comments posted on the video already, I decided to put my keyboard and my fists away and refrain from getting lost in anger, in a barrage of mingling words. Comments and fists are temporary solutions to permanent problems. I don’t have to work harder for the same opportunities; I have to work smarter for better ones. I’m going to combat ignorance with a “heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tries, and a touch that never hurts.”
In hopes of nurturing the minds of women and young college students one day, I’m going to work toward getting my doctoral degree and combat ignorance with books and heart. And before the camera rolls again, I hope Austen will do the same.
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