Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cain Velasquez . . . Racist?

If anybody is an MMA fan, you know who Cain Velasquez is. He's the first Mexican/Mexican-American heavy weight champion in the UFC. Just over a year ago he defeated Brock Lesnar to become the champ. Just about a week ago (11/12/11), he lost the title to Junior Dos Santos. I was pretty disappointed that he lost, but my point isn't to sit here and talk about what made him great and still makes him a great fighter, and a seemingly decent guy based on his interviews and what not. Well what the hell, this is how nice the guy is, after his loss, Joe Rogan asked him for some comments on his defeat, and instead of running his mouth, and trying to trash talk Dos Santos, or simply just walking out of the ring; he genuinely gave props to Dos Santos, and then he apologized to the audience and the fans for having lost the fight, and for not being able to give a full five round match. Pretty much a class act, but to any Dos Santos fans and/or Velasquez haters, I also acknowledge the fact that Dos Santos is a class act, and he is deserving of the title.

 But the issue isn't about the character of the fighters, it's about Velasquez and a tattoo. Namely the "Brown Pride" tat he has inked across his chest in Old English font. As a matter of fact the issue isn't even Cain, but it's an audience that took issue with the tattoo.

What was the big deal? Apparently some people misconstrued his tattoo as having racist connotations, hence believing Cain himself to be racist. For some people, "Brown Pride" was a form of nationalism that pushed that fine boundary to the area of racism, probably because it brought imagery of "White Pride," which is usually associated with white robes, burning crosses, skinheads, and the south.

If you go on youtube or just any MMA boards online you'll see people lashing out at him over the tattoo, saying he's racist, or that he's a Mexican gang member, because only Mexican gang members get tattoos done in Old English font.

Before I go on, in the following video Cain is discusses the tattoo and the controversy over it:

He eventually gets to it in a round about way, by mentioning his father's struggle to come to this country, as well as by saying that its a phrase of empowerment for "our people, that he's proud of our people and their work ethic, and in being Mexican.

One of the commentators asks a good question, "if you would have gotten a "Viva Mexico," tattoo do you think there would be less controversy?" Cain concedes of course, I think any of us would. But here's the thing, subconsciously so many of us that are born here understand that although we may be Mexican, we are not "fully Mexican," we are Mexican-American, Xicano, Latino, Hispano, etc. But saying or using the phrase "Brown Pride" encompasses all of those. Because as some of us that are Mexican-American/Xicano know, if we go to Mexico, there are many Mexicanos who will say we are not Mexicans because we weren't born in Mexico, because there are maybe discrepancies in the way we speak Spanish, the way we dress, or mannerisms. However having "Brown Pride," shows that even though you're not a Mexican born and raised in Mexico, you're still proud of your people and your origins in relation to our motherland (let's not get into the discussion about Aztlan and stolen land, yet). Not only that, but Cain acknowledges the struggle of his people, mainly through his father who is representative of the struggles of so many of our parents as they crossed the border or when they worked here, getting up at 5 am to toil in agricultural labor. As I'm sure Cain thinks about it, because if you watch UFC All Access leading both up to the Lesnar and Dos Santos fight, his father is shown at the type of work he does. Which like some of our parents is out in the fields of CalifAztlan.

I don't see racism in having a "Brown Pride" tattoo.  If Cain were going into fights saying "Fuck white people, it's all about Brown Pride," then I could understand the upheaval of some of the audience. Far from it, Cain is just honoring his roots and heritage and isn't trying to disparage anybody else's. Which can't really be said for someone like Brock Lesnar who made a comment about honoring Cain's heritage by "drinking a Corona and eating a burrito" after beating him (start video below at 44 seconds).

Was Brock's comment racist? That's up for debate, I'd say yes. That's Brock's ignorance for you, though, well that and he's known to be a trash talker leading up to his fights. Then again, maybe Brock felt insulted by Cain's tattoo, and felt his whiteness (notice I didn't say Americaness) threatened by someone that showed that type of pride in his people. Well we all know how that fight turned out, and needless to say, Brock walked away respecting Cain as a fighter. Kinda made me wonder how that Corona and burrito went down for Brock. "Velas-quiz" kicked his ass. Sniff.

Regardless what tends to happen is that people get nationality and race mixed up, and rightly so, when a group is trying to empower itself. Its similar to the point brought up by the commentator in the first video. Your nationality is (for us) Mexican/Mexican-American etc. Our race is the color of our skin. So when we say "Brown Pride," we're really thinking about all our brown skinned people, all of the Mexicanos, Mexican-Americans, Xican@s, Latinos or Hispanos. So really we're thinking about anybody that falls under our ethnicity and our nationality. This came about because race was used as a tool to oppress us and anybody that was not white.

So instead of being ashamed or feeling like we were worthless, because we weren't white, we took pride in our race, and we weren't going to allow the dominant white society to oppress us and tell us that we were/are less than them. Which makes it understandable why let's say the Black Panthers would shout "Black Power!" or why later, for us it was "Brown and Proud," or "Brown Pride." Now if we get a tattoo of that phrase in Old English letters does that make us gang members? No, but I do see that font being associated with our Xicano culture as well, and yes mainly because it comes from the street and the anti-structure, but does it mean we want to be associated with a gang and any illegalities associated with them? Nope. Just means we might think it'll look cool to get that phrase tattooed on ourselves with that specific font. 

Here's the thing though, I think the group that really took issue with the tattoo weren't just people that were dick riding on Brock, I believe that a lot of it had to do with white guilt. White people got pissed because how could a Mexican guy get away with having a "Brown Pride" tattoo, but if a white person gets "White Pride" or "White Power" tattooed on themselves, they are automatically ostracized by society. In their eyes that's not fair. You can blame political correctness if you like, but as I mentioned earlier there are too many negative thing associated with either of those phrases. But it remains a fact that white people were in power and they didn't need to say those phrases or have them tattooed on themselves because they were riding a high on their own whiteness. Once minorities started getting power, started asking for equality, many whites didn't want the status quo changed, so all of a sudden they felt their power as white Americans threatened, and then all of a sudden we started getting the whole white power thing, because they suddenly felt they were becoming the minorities within their own power structure. How do you take control back? Empowering your own group through your race, making yourself proud to be white, and not letting others making you feel guilty for the imbalance in power. Do I think it's fucked up that white people can't express pride in being white? Yes and no. I very much believe in the freedom of speech, and I think even white people should feel pride in being white . . . for the right reasons, whether your roots originally lie Europe or if you want to believe your roots were sprouted here. But instead of feeling sorry for yourselves, for getting lambaseted whenever you take pride in your whiteness, how about trying to change the images that come to the minds of people when they think about the history of whites, especailly in relation to White versus every other minority. Acknowledge the fact that white Americans did some fucked up shit through race, it's part of our national conscious, but don't simply try to brush it off, and walk away from it, and try saying "it's in the past," or "get over it." Instead of feeling guilty try to make a positive change that will paint you in a positive light to others, instead of bitching about a "Brown Pride" tattoo. Or better yet instead of joining some group or organization that spouts racist propaganda to empower its membership, try joining or creating one that allows you pride that isn't rooted in racism and trying to maintain the current racist power structure. There has to be a middle ground or at least room for compromise, amongst yourselves.

Going back to Cain, he even says that there was never a Mexican MMA fighter he could look up to in his own weight class. In that sense he is a trailblazer, because he now is that fighter that many others look up to, because he is the first, but he also takes pride in knowing that he is the first of his nationality to do accomplish this, and now others can look to him and take nationalistic pride as well. 

This is a really stupid argument, but I think Cain's wife might be white. So I kind of doubt that he would get a tattoo on his chest that has negative connotations, plus it would be some what contradictory. That and wouldn't his wife be offended by his tattoo? If anything he's showing pride in his browness, and the history his family has lived which is representative of the history many of our own families have lived as well. His tattoo unites us all with a similar lived historical conscious. 

In the mean time I'm looking forward to hearing Cain's intro music, with Chente belting out his voice escorted by all too familiar guitar tunes, which will then lead up to an eventual rematch between Velasquez and Dos Santos. 

Es mas, puro pinche Brown Pride!! <--(This is the closest I could get to Old English font)

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