When news first broke about the Texas mall shooter, 33-year-old Mauricio Garcia, some assumed he was an undocumented immigrant with gang or cartel affiliation based on his name and racist stereotypes (Dallas News). Garcia’s ethnicity, he identified as Hispanic, might seem to disqualify him from being a neo-Nazi and white supremacist. But even amongst people of color, white supremacy is still present. White supremacy is a hierarchy focused on power. The greater one’s proximity and allegiance to whiteness, the more power one is perceived to have. And Garcia was most likely a homegrown right-wing extremist whose unfettered gun access allowed him to brutally carry out his beliefs.
Though the investigation into the motive for the Texas mall shooting is ongoing, Garcia shared beliefs that aligned with white supremacy groups, including wearing a “RWDS” patch, a phrase popular with far-right extremists like the Proud Boys, on the day of the shooting (AP News). His profile on a Russian social networking platform showed rants against Jewish people, women, Muslims, and LGBQT+ people, as well as photos showing Nazi tattoos on his torso and arms (Washington Post). He also expressed hatred towards non-white people, particularly Asians (USA Today). The Texas mall shooting victims were people of color, most of whom were of Asian descent.
• Donate directly to the victims of the Texas mall shooting.
• Contribute to the Support the Allen Fund providing grief and trauma counseling to those impacted in the community.
• Support organizations that amplify the voices of Asian Americans and immigrants in Texas, including SAAVETX, Asian Texans for Justice, Woori Juntos, and Indian Association of North Texas.
• Consider how the impacts of colonialism, slavery, and settler colonialism shape perceptions of race and identity. How might systems of oppression incentivize violence and discrimination?
From 2015-2019, India and China were the leading sources of international migration to Texas, after Mexico, making Asian immigrants “the fastest-growing ethnic group in the state (Texas Monthly).” In Allen and the surrounding cities of Frisco and Plano, Asian Americans are the second-largest racial group (following non-Hispanic whites) as the area’s racial makeup shifts.
Anti-Asian violence has risen sharply in recent years, with Texas having the 4th highest number of reported hate incidents (Stop AAPI Hate). 1 in 2 Asian Americans report feeling unsafe in the U.S. due to their race and ethnicity (STAATUS Index). “The continued presence of the perpetual foreigner and yellow peril stereotypes in the American psyche” fuel perceptions that people of Asian descent threaten Western society and national security, stoking fear of Asian immigrants, mainly from East Asian countries, and anti-Asian sentiments and violence.
Garcia felt that minorities, specifically Chinese, African, and people from the Middle East, were taking over the world—a white supremacist conspiracy alleging a plot to replace white U.S. residents with non-white immigrants (ADL). And was grappling with his non-white identity, posting that he was “ashamed of being Hispanic” but had to make “peace with it” (ADL, Washington Post).
European colonialism invented whiteness as a tool to seize power, suppress, and pit those they oppressed against each other (The Conversation). The caste system established by Portugal and Spain throughout Latin America allowed these white Europeans to incorporate mixed-race people with partial Spanish or Portuguese descent in the colonies while maintaining superiority through their own purity (College of Wooster). Even post-colonialism, this system and ideology create racial bias and affect perceptions of race and identity within these countries. The threads of this can be seen in the anti-blackness and anti-Haitianism in the Dominican Republic.
Racism is pervasive in Latin American and Caribbean countries and cultures where the colorblind concepts of Latinidad and mestizaje prop up whiteness through anti-Blackness, Indigenous erasure, and anti-Asian xenophobia (Remezcla, Remezcla). And the forced homogenizing of Latin America ignores how racial, ethnic, and colonial lineage doesn’t equate to shared political interests, beliefs, or experiences, nor solidarity. For example, “some of the Proud Boys’ appeal to Latinos in the Miami area has been explained: Cubans and Venezuelans’ fear of communism and socialism made them turn to the Republican Party and, in some cases, drove them to become right-wing activists” (Boston Globe), though the party holds negative positions on immigration issues affecting most Latines.
And some marginalized or exploited people will align with their oppressors to avoid oppression, e.g., the Irish and Italian immigrant journey to whiteness.
Even though some far-right groups have distanced themselves from Garcia because of his ethnicity, many still actively recruit and accept people of color and offer a Spanish-language edition to their materials (Washington Post, PBS).
Garcia wouldn’t be the first person of color to align with white supremacist or nationalist ideologies. White supremacist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes is of Mexican American descent. Former Proud Boys chair Enrique Tarrio, recently convicted of seditious conspiracy concerning the January 6 Capitol Riot, is Afro-Cuban. Joey Gibson, the founder of the far-right group, Patriot Prayer, is Irish-Japanese (KTVU). They represent the intensifying threat of mainstreamed far-right extremism, where the white-only requirements are dropped in order to leave behind more carnage fueled by hate, bigotry, and violence.
• The Texas mall shooting is the second mass killing in the state in less than a month.
• White supremacy and far-right extremism are a growing threat in the U.S.
• People don’t have to be white or white-identifying to hold extremist or white supremacist beliefs.