N.M. Rep. Miguel Garcia’s recent email to fellow democrats concerning Jim Danner and Dr. Teresa Smith de Cherif represents a disrespect to his office and all the citizens of New Mexico. For that matter, all human beings.
His use of heritage to judge people is racism in its darkest and most vile form. Rep. Garcia is ignorant of the facts surrounding these candidates and does not uphold the standards of the office to which he has been elected.
I know Jim Danner as “Coach Danner,” a person that taught me values as I grew up in the diverse community of Belen. I was one of four Americans of Asian heritage in my school, two of them being my sisters.
I learned to tolerate being called El Chino or Japanese, neither of which was accurate. Yet I never felt my community judged me by my heritage as Rep. Garcia judges these candidates. I was successful growing up and felt part of my community.
Mr. Danner has given his life to Valencia County. As an educator, like Rep. Garcia, has given to his community, not only in the classroom, but on the athletic field and as a school administrator. He has given back to the community and now wants to serve the community. How good can that be?
I know Dr. Teresa Smith de Cherif as a board supervisor for the Valencia County Soil and Water Conservation District and as a doctor who practices in rural clinics in northern and western New Mexico. She not only serves New Mexico’s rural health care needs, but gives back to the local community by serving on the board of the Valencia County Soil and Water Conservation District. She is a multi-generation bilingual Spanish speaker, which is a comfort to many of the families she serves.
The communities these candidates give back to are fortunate to have them as engaged, willing citizens, who desire to serve their communities more. Every citizen in New Mexico should elect the best candidates who are willing to serve their community.
Every elected official should serve the community that has elected them. Rep. Garcia has not served his community with his racist and damaging comments. Ignorance is a terrible disease. Rep. Garcia has two college degrees. In spite of all his education, his views of his fellow citizens based on racial stereotypes is deplorable.
We can do better than this. Citizens of New Mexico need to look at the candidate and his/her dedication to service in the community, not the color of their skin or the language they speak.
Cesar Chavez once said “Preservation of one’s own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures.” All New Mexicans should embrace this, Mr. Garcia.
(Editor’s note: Rep. Miguel Garcia has personally apologized to Jim Danner and Teresa Smith de Cherif, who have both accepted his apology.)