(Source: Houston Chronicle July 17, 2005. Photo by Joy Sewing)
The "N word" was not something I expected to hear while I lived in Mexico.
A middle-aged man shouted the racial slur from a moving car as I and several other journalists — another African-American woman and a Puerto Rican man — left a restaurant in Cuernavaca. The verbal assault took my breath away.
In a country where I had grown to identify with its rich, colorful culture and brown faces, I was slapped with a racial insult, and I was stunned.
I spent more than five months in Mexico in 1997 on a National Press Foundation fellowship to study Spanish. During that time, as I struggled to improve my language skills, I also tried to understand how racism could exist there.
"There's no racism in here Mexico," I was told frequently by teachers and friends. Economics, they said, was the issue. The poorer you are, the worse life is.