When I was a young co-ed at Arizona State University, my sister was the president of the College Republicans. I was her secretary. As the daughters of a Catholic, Reagan democrat, military man, our party affiliation was not all that surprising. However, the fact that our father also happened to be Mexican-American, was the source of much consternation among ASU’s race-based campus crowd.
When we manned our Republican recruitment booth by the Memorial Union or attended events with conservative speakers, our liberal (and largely Hispanic) detractors called us “coconuts” – you know, brown on the outside, white on the inside. Never mind that many of the Mecha and La Raza students who were doing the name-calling couldn’t speak a lick of Spanish (my sister and I have near native command of the language), or that their understanding of Mexican culture was limited to Taco Bell and low-rider vehicles (which they displayed on the main campus lawn in honor of Hispanic "Cultural" Awareness Week).
For conservative minorities, especially conservative minority women, Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination and the warnings from the left not to “bully” her are a reminder of the double standard with which we live out our social and political lives. The recognition that there are two separate rulebooks for minorities: one for liberals and one for conservatives. In the liberal rulebook, whites must be sensitive and considerate of a minority’s life story and the unique obstacles he or she faced and/or overcame. In the conservative rulebook, well, there really is no rulebook because there are no rules. It’s always open season on conservative minorities.
Where were the cries for respect and sensitivity to compelling personal stories when Clarence Thomas or Miguel Estrada were being skewered? Where were all of the glowing stories, Oprah appearances, and magazine covers for the always elegant, eloquent (did I mention fit?) ,Condoleezza Rice, America’s first female Black Secretary of State?
Last year, at the height of Palin bashing, Asian-American conservative Michelle Malkin said: “liberals have a tendency to infantilize, sexualize, demonize and dehumanize conservative women. It's astounding how intolerant liberals are of jokes about liberal women, and yet they'll say, or at least tolerate the most bawdy, degrading and patronizing things about conservative women."
When conservative Linda Chavez accepted an invitation to speak at ASU, the race-based crowd turned out in full force. They protested, heckled, and held up signs that said “Ni Linda es la Chavez”. The demeaning signs and jeers Chavez graciously endured that evening at ASU was a warning for the young, conservative minority women in attendance – a harbinger of the double standard we would have to endure if we continued to speak up for what we believe. Fifteen years later, I refuse to be silenced by those who demand that my race should determine my views or political affiliation. I may be brown on the outside, but on the inside, I’m all American.
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