April 30, 2017 at 11:13 pm PDT | by Richard Zaldivar
Speaking Out Against Hate in Politics

Richard L. Zaldivar is founder and executive of The Wall Las Memorias Project

As a lifelong resident and activist from the Northeast area of Los Angeles, I have experienced many heated political campaigns.

As a young man, I once worked for Los Angeles City Councilman Art Snyder and witnessed a recall campaign against him because he was not Hispanic. I detested racism and bigotry back then and detest it now.

Joe Bray-Ali (left) and Gil Cedill. Photo Courtesy campaigns

Recently, an investigative story by LAList.com disclosed that Joe Bray-Ali, who is running against Council member Gilbert Cedillo in the LA City Council District 1 race, had mimicked Mexican people in a video on YouTube titled “Ask a Mexican.”

Additionally, it was disclosed that this same candidate had uploaded comments about African Americans, overweight people and transgender individuals on a Reddit-like online forum called “Voat,” known to be a social platform for racists and bigots.

He also made comments on a racist forum called “v/N*****S,” as well as a forum called “v/FATPEOPLEHATE.” In another thread titled “Cuck, it’s what’s for dinner,” Bray-Ali pontificates on whether a group of people in a photo could be categorized as “Africans” or “n*****s.” “Cuck” is a pejorative term used by alt-right white nationalists like Donald Trump senior adviser Steve Bannon. According to a report in The Daily Beast, “cuk” is short for “Cuckservative,” defined as “a portmanteau of ‘cuckold’ and ‘conservative,’ [which] has become a favorite slur on the right, used like a sexually and racially charged version of ‘RINO,’ a Republican In Name Only.”

Bray-Ali did not stop there. He has also stated that he feels gender-reassignment surgery for transgender individuals “doesn’t seem like something worthy of praise, but instead of being criticized as a shameful excess,” LAList reports.

These were hateful and repulsive comments that hurt the fabric of our community in the 1st Council District and that impact people throughout the City of Los Angeles. This is an attack against the very movement for equality and justice that we have been fighting for during the recent presidential election and its aftermath.

That is why the leadership of the Latino LGBTQ community, including Justine Gonzalez, prominent leader of the transgender community, and Honor PAC Board member Richard Corral, came together for a news conference on April 27 with out Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin to condemn the racist and hateful comments by Joe Bray-Ali.

At that news conference, I strongly recommended that Joe Bray-Ali suspend his campaign and volunteer in LGBTQ organizations to learn more about people that he may not like and may not understand.

Since then, gay Council member Mitch O’Farrell and the Los Angeles Times—early endorsers of Bray-Ali’s candidacy—as well as seven members of the Los Angeles City Council have asked him to step down and withdraw from the election. According to LAList, he confirmed that he made the comments, apologized for the content, and apologized for his “personal mistakes” to his wife, daughter, family and community “for putting them in this situation.” He has not, however, apologized directly to the Latino or transgender communities, as far as we know, communities he says he wants to represent.

That is not OK with us.

We should never fear speaking out against hate and discrimination. We must support worthy, knowledgeable and respectable candidates for office. We must research their positions on our issues, their knowledge of the community and qualifications for elected public office.

Most importantly, we must question and hold all political candidates accountable if they want to exercise political and electoral power in our name.

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