Brownsville Texas’ elected City Commissioner, Cesar De Leon, was recently caught on tape using repugnant racial epithets against African Americans as well as racial stereotypes against Mexican Americans. De Leon recently apologized to the local newspaper.
Racism and offensive stereotypes have unfortunately been a part of America’s history since its inception. Nevertheless, The U.S has made significant strides over the decades giving decent Americans hope for a more unified nation. That does not say that the vestiges of bigotry will not exist. For proof, one can look to the coded rhetoric from Washington DC and what seems like monthly stories of racial violence or discrimination.
Modern technology such as social media, videos and recording devices on smartphones has exposed bigoted conversations that may have been private in the past. One of the latest examples comes from an elected City Commissioner in Brownsville Texas. The Brownsville Herald reports that multiple social media users posted audio clips last week featuring De Leon. The clips recorded him using slurs and derogatory language when referring to two district attorneys working for the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office.
On the tape, the infamous F-word and N-words are used to describe two African American district attorneys working for the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office and recently hired by District Attorney Luis Sanez. On the tape De Leon can be heard saying;
“There are a couple of f***** n****** that Luis Saenz is getting, and I don’t know where he is getting them from,” De Leon said. “They are coming down to my f****** city and now they are trying to f****** put everybody in jail because they think we are a bunch of Mexicans that hit our wives, which couldn’t be further from the f****** truth, but that is how they see us.
“They are f****** … and I would say this, that I would never dare use that word, but you know what, yes, there are a couple of n****** in there that think that all of us are f****** taco eaters,”
The taped statement allegedly was leaked by Fire Chief Carlos Elizondo, with whom De Leon said he was having a private conversation. As soon as the audio hit the internet, the outrage was swift and palpable. Many citizens of the county called for De Leon’s resignation.
The uproar forced De Leon to make a statement to the local newspaper, offering a very curious and tepid apology. De Leon stated. “I want to apologize to the citizens of Brownsville or whoever had to listen to those tapes because there is a lot of profane language and that was a private conversation. It was never meant to be public, but it’s very important that people understand that I’m very apologetic.”
Although De Leon showed remorse to the public for being exposed to profane language, he never disavowed his use of the racial epithets or stereotypes. Furthermore, De Leon never said that he did not believe his words, merely that he was sorry that the public had to hear a profane private conversation.
Earlier this week, the District Attorney (Luis Saenz) whom De Leon criticized on the viral clips responded by stating: “The people of Cameron County expect me to hire the most competent prosecutors that I can find, without regard to their race, and that is what I strive to do. Mr. De Leon’s remarks are very shameful and hurtful. It is extremely disappointing that they are made by a lawyer and a representative of the City of Brownsville.”
Although De Leon is certainly within his rights to voice his opinion, no matter how abhorrent, the citizens of Cameron County have the ability to vote him out next cycle. However, whether or not De Leon stays in his position one thing is certain, as long as smartphones and racists exist, more bigots will be exposed on a daily basis.