Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Life Issues > Fitness > An Olympic spotlight shone on the harsh reality of mixed-status families

An Olympic spotlight shone on the harsh reality of mixed-status families

While freestyle wrestler Henry Cejudo basked in the glow of Olympic gold medal success, his family story as the son of undocumented immigrants underscores a punitive federal policy that separates mixed status families.

LatinaLista — It’s no wonder that the unexpected Olympic gold medal win by freestyle wrestler Henry Cejudo took the news media by storm. After all, Henry’s story had all the right elements that the media loves and which fans of Horatio Alger-type stories can’t get enough of.
' border=
U.S. wrestler Henry Cejudo savors his gold medal victory at the 2008 Bejing Olympics.
Henry was the underdog competitor and by all accounts shouldn’t have been sitting across from Matt Lauer of the Today show the morning after clutching the gold medal sitting on his chest, but he was.
For some, Henry’s destiny was already written when he was born 21 years ago into poverty, the son of undocumented Mexican immigrants, raised by a single mom, moving from one bad neighborhood to another.
It’s not surprising that Henry found more success at wrestling than calculating equations. Yet what is surprising, more so than the fact that Henry’s success has been widely celebrated for being the youngest American wrestler to bring home a gold medal, is that no one questioned whether he was an American.
Continue reading An Olympic spotlight shone on the harsh reality of mixed-status families

Related posts


  • Evelyn
    August 31, 2008 at 5:15 am

    Congratulations to
    Henry Cejudo for accomplishing an extraordinary feat even when faced with adversity.
    I know Henry had to work twice as hard as those served on the silver plate of ‘white privilege.’
    Congratulations also to Michael Phelps who won a record eight gold medals in a single Olympics in Beijing.
    To me that is a phenomenal accomplishment.

  • Michaela
    September 2, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    I know Henry had to work twice as hard as those served on the silver plate of ‘white privilege.’
    Oh stop it Evelyn. The silver platter of white privilege? Sorry to tell you but most whites know nothing about this silver platter.

  • Evelyn Chavez
    September 5, 2008 at 10:35 am

    Michaela said:
    Oh stop it Evelyn. The silver platter of white privilege? Sorry to tell you but most whites know nothing about this silver platter
    I know, like you, many white people even deny it exists.
    Here let me enlighten you.
    Kendall Clark
    white privilege, a social relation
    1. a. A right, advantage, or immunity granted to or enjoyed by white persons beyond the common advantage of all others; an exemption in many particular cases from certain burdens or liabilities.
    b. A special advantage or benefit of white persons; with reference to divine dispensations, natural advantages, gifts of fortune, genetic endowments, social relations, etc.
    2. A privileged position; the possession of an advantage white persons enjoy over non–white persons.
    3. a. The special right or immunity attaching to white persons as a social relation; prerogative.
    b. display of white privilege, a social expression of a white person or persons demanding to be treated as a member or members of the socially privileged class.
    4. a. To invest white persons with a privilege or privileges; to grant to white persons a particular right or immunity; to benefit or favor specially white persons; to invest white persons with special honorable distinctions.
    b. To avail oneself of a privilege owing to one as a white person.
    5. To authorize or license of white person or persons what is forbidden or wrong for non–whites; to justify, excuse.
    6. To give to white persons special freedom or immunity from some liability or burden to which non–white persons are subject; to exempt.
    White privilege, like any social phenomenon, is complex. In a white supremacist culture, all white people have privilege, whether or not they are overtly racist themselves. There are general patterns, but such privilege plays out differently depending on context and other aspects of one’s identity (in my case, being male gives me other kinds of privilege). Rather than try to tell others how white privilege has played out in their lives, I talk about how it has affected me.
    I am as white as white gets in this country. I am of northern European heritage and I was raised in North Dakota, one of the whitest states in the country. I grew up in a virtually all-white world surrounded by racism, both personal and institutional. Because I didn’t live near a reservation, I didn’t even have exposure to the state’s only numerically significant non-white population, American Indians.
    I have struggled to resist that racist training and the ongoing racism of my culture. I like to think I have changed, even though I routinely trip over the lingering effects of that internalized racism and the institutional racism around me. But no matter how much I “fix” myself, one thing never changes–I walk through the world with white privilege.
    What does that mean? Perhaps most importantly, when I seek admission to a university, apply for a job, or hunt for an apartment, I don’t look threatening. Almost all of the people evaluating me for those things look like me–they are white. They see in me a reflection of themselves, and in a racist world that is an advantage. I smile. I am white. I am one of them. I am not dangerous. Even when I voice critical opinions, I am cut some slack. After all, I’m white.
    My flaws also are more easily forgiven because I am white. Some complain that affirmative action has meant the university is saddled with mediocre minority professors. I have no doubt there are minority faculty who are mediocre, though I don’t know very many. As Henry Louis Gates Jr. once pointed out, if affirmative action policies were in place for the next hundred years, it’s possible that at the end of that time the university could have as many mediocre minority professors as it has mediocre white professors. That isn’t meant as an insult to anyone, but is a simple observation that white privilege has meant that scores of second-rate white professors have slid through the system because their flaws were overlooked out of solidarity based on race, as well as on gender, class and ideology.
    Some people resist the assertions that the United States is still a bitterly racist society and that the racism has real effects on real people. But white folks have long cut other white folks a break. I know, because I am one of them.
    I am not a genius–as I like to say, I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I have been teaching full-time for six years, and I’ve published a reasonable amount of scholarship. Some of it is the unexceptional stuff one churns out to get tenure, and some of it, I would argue, actually is worth reading. I work hard, and I like to think that I’m a fairly decent teacher. Every once in awhile, I leave my office at the end of the day feeling like I really accomplished something. When I cash my paycheck, I don’t feel guilty.
    But, all that said, I know I did not get where I am by merit alone. I benefited from, among other things, white privilege. That doesn’t mean that I don’t deserve my job, or that if I weren’t white I would never have gotten the job. It means simply that all through my life, I have soaked up benefits for being white. I grew up in fertile farm country taken by force from non-white indigenous people. I was educated in a well-funded, virtually all-white public school system in which I learned that white people like me made this country great. There I also was taught a variety of skills, including how to take standardized tests written by and for white people.
    All my life I have been hired for jobs by white people. I was accepted for graduate school by white people. And I was hired for a teaching position at the predominantly white University of Texas, which had a white president, in a college headed by a white dean and in a department with a white chairman that at the time had one non-white tenured professor.

Comments are closed.