Domingo Garcia Calls Opponent "Errand Boy." Was That a Slur or Just Typical Garcia?

Domingo, Domingo, Domingo. You were named after the day of worship. Why do you always wind up using names against other people?

Yesterday, state Representative Rafael Anchia jumped on Dallas congressional candidate Domingo Garcia for calling a black opponent an "errand boy." In a press release, Anchia said, "Calling a black man 'boy' is the stuff of Jim Crow and has no place in modern day political discourse."

Anchia and Garcia, both top Dallas Hispanic leaders, are way-back political rivals. You could chalk this one up to that, if you didn't know Garcia.

Maybe you think it's super-sensitive to conflate "errand boy," a tepid generic insult applicable to all ethnicities, with the racist term "boy," used for centuries in this country as a form of emasculation for African-American men.

Ah, but you see, what Anchia knows -- and I remember all too well -- is that Garcia himself has always been super-sensitive to slurs. He knows exactly what they mean and how to use them.

Almost 20 years ago when he was on the Dallas City Council, Garcia was the go-to expert when the gringos at The Dallas Morning News needed a primer on what to call Mexican-Americans. He told a reporter: "When I was a kid growing up I was "Spanish-surnamed. Then I was Latin-American, then Chicano, then Mexican-American, then Hispanic. And now I'm Latino."

Nothing wrong with any of that, until you factor in his addiction to casting the political destiny of Latino-Hispanic-Surname-Whatevers -- please don't forget his own destiny, as well -- as a zero-sum contest with black people.

In 1998 he told the Morning News, "African-American power has crested. The next decade will be the period of advancement for the Latino community."

Yeah, that kind of shit always helps.

And then there is behavior. You know -- not what he says but what he does. Or doesn't do. In 1999, when the Texas House emerged from a bitter floor fight to vote up a hate-crimes bill -- listing homosexuals for the first time as a protected group -- Garcia, then a legislator, skipped the main vote.

(He's going to come back at me, I know, and say he voted yes on some irrelevant version or codicil later. All I know is that the Austin American-Statesman at the time reported he was one of very few Democrats to skip the most important vote.)

So he can't make it to the House floor to vote when it's everybody else's honor being defended. But when it's his own, watch out!

In 2001, Garcia told The Dallas Morning News that he had been a victim of racial profiling 10 years earlier while on the city council. Apparently, the cops kept pulling him over on the highway.

Therefore Garcia ordered the city manager to order the chief of police to order the department to put a red flag in the police patrol-car computer system listing Garcia's Porsche as "belonging to a City Council member."

So before that, he was getting pulled over because the police looked at his car and profiled him as a German? Ah, yes, I know this cruel practice myself. And then the cops always try to give me some story about how they're profiling me for going too fast. Oh, sure. I know anti-German profiling when I see it.

But I never thought of getting elected to the City Council so I could drive fast and be immune from getting stopped. Cool. Gotta try that in my next life. I'm going to get vanity license plates that say, "KRAUT and FURIOUS."

In 2001 Garcia went back to his us-against-black-people theme, telling the News, "Currently, in Dallas County there is only one majority Hispanic opportunity state House district in the county out of 16 total. African-Americans have four opportunity state House districts, and the black population is smaller compared to the Hispanic population."

Five years later he made some national news on the ethnic slur front by going on FOX TV and telling Bill O'Reilley that the term "illegal alien" was a racist slur.

In doing so, he managed to drag everybody else into his fight with him. He told O'Reilley (just the guy to have this kind of philosophical debate with): "Whenever you try to dehumanize a group of people by you know, calling them slaves if they're black or chattel if they're women, it's a way to try to treat them as second-class citizens under the law."

Yeah, you hear that all the time. Guy gets in a fight with his girlfriend in a bar. He starts yelling at her, "Shut the hell up, you dumb chattel!"

Ah, well. It's all in what you really mean, isn't it, and Garcia knows exactly what he means. Names are equally important to him when he can manage to append the prefix, "un," to them.

In 2006 he went national again on the ethnic-generalization front by telling Lou Dobbs that Farmers Branch Deputy Mayor Tim O'Hare, a proponent of anti-Hispanic ordinances, was " ... un-American, unchristian, un-Texan."

And I'm not saying he wasn't. I'm just saying Garcia keeps this little pocket full of rocks ready at all times and knows just how to sling them.

So is Domingo Garcia being unfairly castigated for calling an African-American opponent an "errand boy"? Ah, look, whatever else, with Garcia it's never about fair. Forget fair. When Garcia's around, the only thing you need to watch out for is his aim.

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze