My jaw literally dropped when on January 27, 2019, when I heard longtime news reporter Tom Brokaw say on Meet the Press:
“And a lot of this, we don’t want to talk about … But the fact is, on the Republican side, a lot of people see the rise of an extraordinary, important, new constituent in American politics, Hispanics, who will come here and all be Democrats. Also, I hear, when I push people a little harder, ‘Well, I don’t know whether I want brown grandbabies.’ I mean, that’s also a part of it. … It’s the intermarriage that is going on and the cultures that are conflicting with each other. I also happen to believe that the Hispanics should work harder at assimilation. That’s one of the things I’ve been saying for a long time. You know, they ought not to be just codified in their communities but make sure that all their kids are learning to speak English, and that they feel comfortable in the communities. And that’s going to take outreach on both sides, frankly.”
You can see the entire interview here.
No one on the Meet the Press panel asked Brokaw to clarify who has told him they didn’t want “brown grandbabies.”
Tom Brokaw has apologized for the remarks, but please give me a break!
I doubt Tom Brokaw and his friends fully understand or appreciate just how much assimilation has gone on in New Mexico for decades, and some would say hundreds of years.
I am half Italian and half Hispanic.
My grandfather Lorenzo Dinelli immigrated from Lucca, Italy in the year 1900 to New Mexico at the age of 19, a full 12 years before New Mexico became a State.
My grandmother Rachaelle, also from Lucca, Italy followed my grandfather Lorenzo and settled in Albuquerque.
My father Paul Dinelli was born in Albuquerque and the first language he learned before English was Italian.
My mother Rose Fresques Dinelli, was born in Chacon, New Mexico in Mora County, New Mexico.
My mother Rose was 100% Hispanic, and the first language she learned before English was Spanish.
The Italian and Spanish languages have many similarities.
I recall growing up when my dad and my mom would speak to each other in both languages to keep us from knowing what they were saying, especially when we knew they were arguing.
I once asked my mother why they did not teach me and my brother and sisters Italian or Spanish and she told me it was important for us to learn English and fully master one language.
Another reason for not teaching us Italian or Spanish was that my grandparents and my mother and father had experienced discrimination because of their ethnicity.
I regret not being taught by my parents and being unable to master Italian and Spanish, but understand fully their rationale for it.
Someone needs to tell Tom Brokaw that at least in New Mexico we have more than a few very successful Hispanic Republican politicians such as former Governor Susana Martinez, former Lt. Governor John Sanchez who were once brown babies not to mention former Congressman Manuel Lujan, all three who can speak fluent Spanish.
Then New Mexico also had former United State Senator Pete Domenici who was first generation Italian, whose parents immigrated from Lucca, Italy and Domenici could speak fluent Italian.
Frankly, my wife Betty and I are extremely excited to have more than a few brown babies seeing as my oldest son is married to an Hispanic!