Editor, the Advocate:
I am presently reading the Daniel James Brown nonfiction book, “The Boys in the Boat,” which documents the University of Washington rowing team’s quest for a gold medal in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. This story was also the subject of a 2016 PBS American Experience documentary, “The Boys of ‘36,” and a movie is currently in the making.
All nine members of the Washington team came from lower middle-class families and struggled to earn their way through school during the depths of the depression.
In Chapter 15, the author’s attention turns to one of the team members Bobby Moch. Moch is opening an envelope containing a letter from his father listing the addresses of relatives he hoped to visit in Europe. Contained in the envelope was a second, sealed envelope labeled “Read this in a private place.”
The second letter informed Moch, for the first time, that he and his family were Jewish. Being a much-discriminated minority, his father had felt that in order to make it in America, it was necessary to conceal this part of his identity from friends, neighbors and even his own children. Moch had been brought up by his father to believe that everyone should be treated according to his actions and his character, not according to stereotypes. Moch’s father had felt it necessary to keep his heritage hidden away – a secret to be ashamed of – even in America.
In the Aug. 12 Victoria Advocate, there is the story of Latinos worried about being targeted as the result of the recent El Paso mass shooting and the earlier shooting in Gilroy, Calif. Alexandro Jose Gradilla, a professor of Chicana and Chicano studies at California State University, is quoted, “White supremacists don’t see the difference between immigrants to fourth-generation Latinos. They see brown.”
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Mike Laza, Victoria