*(Via Mic) – The violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August catalyzed the American public’s reckoning with the budding white nationalist movement, which had accelerated after Donald Trump’s election.
But the eventual identification of one man who participated in the beating of 20-year-old black counterprotester DeAndre Harris during the “Unite the Right” rally shook many: He was revealed to be Alex Michael Ramos, a 33-year-old Puerto Rican resident of Georgia.
The presence of Latino men — like Ramos and 19-year-old Nick Fuentes — at the largest white nationalist event in recent memory underscores the complicated racial position of Latinos in the United States. Latino white supremacy, it turns out, might not be a contradiction in terms.
Increasingly, Latinos are identifying racially as white. In fact, more than half did so in the 2010 U.S. Census. Nick Fuentes, a 19-year-old student who hosts an alt-right podcast called America First — says he’s about 25% Mexican and describes himself as white, not Latino. In an interview with Mic, Fuentes also said he believes multiculturalism threatens white national identity.
Joanna Mendelson, senior investigative researcher and director of special projects for the Anti-Defamation League, sees growing anti-immigrant views from the descendants of Latino immigrants as a unique conundrum. “It’s this idea that, ‘We did it right, we did it legally,’” Mendelson said in an interview with Mic. “They’re not just addressing illegal immigration — which would be one thing — but they’re against refugees and Muslims and legal immigration. They demonize the ‘other,’ but the irony is that they were once the ‘other.’”
In California, Latino white nationalists have found camaraderie in the state’s large prison-gang subculture, where white supremacist gangs and Latinos work together to control criminal enterprises.
“In some ways, they will overlook any discrepancies in order to expand their numbers. And Latinos are, in some way, kind of the one group that is allowed a kind of a pass. Not Jews, not blacks, not Asians,” Mendelson said.
With a current population of around 58 million, Latinos make up the second-largest ethnic group in the U.S., just behind whites. But even as mainstream America becomes more Latino, it’s important to note that with greater numbers comes greater visibility — and influence goes both ways.
Read the rest of this story at Mic.