If You Believe Anything the Daily Wire Publishes, You Deserve Nothing But Ridicule; A response to Luke Rosiak’s irresponsible “journalism”

by Dr. Tracy Castro-Gill

Part Three: Rick

This is the third installment of a 3-part series that breaks down the bullshit that Luke Rosiak tries to pass off as journalism. This third and final installment covers the most personal of attacks—attacks on my identity made by my father, Richard Castro. I have asked him several times to make a public statement, but he refuses, claiming that any statement he makes will only make things worse. So, in light of his refusal to respond, I’m doing it.

My Dad’s Claims

Claim #1: “Castro-Gill, it turned out, was a perennially unhappy toxic liar, one who misrepresented her background to the point that her own father compared her to Rachel Dolezal . . .

I mean, like I told the NYP reporter in the first part of this series, where do people think I got my name? I am 100% Xicanx, 100% mixed-race, 100% European, and I have 100% African, Jewish, and indigenous Russian ancestry somewhere down the line. I say 100% of each, because Ethnic Studies has taught me to place equal value on all my ancestry. I’m not 25%, 50%, or 1/16th anything. I am 100% me and all the parts of my ancestry make me that. Breaking down a person’s racial and ethnic heritages is a vestige of concepts like the “one drop rule” and “blood quantum.” The former refers to the enforcement of anti-Black racism through laws that labeled a person as Black, and therefor worthy of discriminatory practices, if they had just one drop of African blood. The latter is used to quantify a person’s US Native American heritage and exclude people who don’t have enough indigenous blood quantum to be considered part of a federally recognized tribe. These measurements do nothing but preserve the power of Whiteness over people deemed non-white, which is why the piece by Rosiak starts off with and focuses on what my father said.

Many people argue that blood quantum requirements are forms of genocide.

As a mixed-race person with brown skin and the last name Castro who grew up in Los Angeles surrounded by Chicanx people, I choose to identify as Xicanx. I wrote about that decision in this piece. Since I wrote that piece, I have learned more about my identity, specifically my indigenous Mexican heritage and my US indigenous heritage. More on that, later.

Claim #2: “[Rick] and his wife, Rita, had provided for Tracy a conventional, stable middle-class upbringing.”             

This quote goes on to state that my father “eventually” earned a six-figure income. Until I was in the 9th grade, we bounced back and forth between living with my maternal grandparents, HUD subsidized apartments, my paternal grandparents, and back again. Eventually, my dad was able to purchase a home in the LA exurb of Victorville. My parents were teenage parents, and while there were some degrees of stability in my upbringing, economic stability for my parents was not realized until I was an adult.

my parents, age 17, on their wedding day

In addition to living in government subsidized housing, my parents received state healthcare, government food subsidies, and frequented our church food bank. When my father and I reconnected last year, this was the sticking point for him. He said he was angry that I told the world we were poor. He admitted that he sees poverty as a character flaw instead of a systemic injustice. His defense was that our poverty was fleeting, so shouldn’t be mentioned. As I’ve said before, my dad is one of the hardest working people I know. Our poverty was the function of racial discrimination and their teen parent status. I’ve never faulted my dad for our experiences, but they WERE OUR experiences, including mine, and it shaped who I am today.

my dad and his youngest brother, John, aka Tony

It’s also important to note, again, that my father earned that six-figure income working as a state corrections officer. He and his two brothers were all employed through the California state prison system, and all of them were chosen through affirmative action programs. In fact, my youngest son wants to be a police officer. When he had trouble being accepted into various police academies, my dad would encourage him to, “Check the Mexican box.”

Claim #3: “Rick . . . is half Hispanic . . .”

So, my dad claims that he’s half white because his mom was white. Our family has always known his mother, my grandmother, was not white. It was a family secret because she was the first born to her mother and was born out of wedlock. She was later adopted by her white stepfather.  My grandmother claimed that her biological father was Choctaw but didn’t know where or how to find him. I tried looking for a long time, but this was pre internet, and I didn’t even have a name to look for. I recently found him through DNA results. It gave me a surname, and using free online tools, I was able to identify him. He was Native American, but Chickasaw, not Choctaw.

My grandmother intentionally passed as white because of her status as a “bastard” in the late 1930s and her white adoptive father. In fact, there was an entire conversation on her ability to pass as white when she died, because the deed to her burial plot was stamped “whites only.” “Good thing she passed when they purchased those plots,” was a sentiment repeated by various family members upon her death.

my grandmother, Kay, holding my dad as a baby

My dad is not half white, has always known he’s not half white, and has clung to the lie of being half white to gain closer proximity to Whiteness. My dad is a dark-skinned, obviously Mexican, obviously indigenous man.

Claim #4: “. . . Tracy’s closest connection to Spanish-speaking culture may be her similarity to Don Quixote . . .”

First, I’ve never claimed a connection to “Spanish-speaking culture.” In fact, I loathe the term “Hispanic.” It literally means a person who speaks Spanish. Um, hello… Europeans originally spoke Spanish. It’s a white-washing of Mesoamerican people. Second, my dad used to be proud of his Mexican heritage. I knew I was Mexican American because he taught me I was. It wasn’t until my dad became an ultra-conservative corrections officer that he started to work to distance himself from his brown skin and Mexicanness.

We didn’t speak Spanish because his father didn’t teach his children. At the time my dad and uncles were going to school, it was illegal to speak Spanish in California schools. My grandfather still speaks fluent Spanish, but he thought he was helping his children be better equipped to navigate a world of Whiteness by not passing that ability on to them. And though we didn’t speak Spanish, we were immersed in a world of Chicano, if not Mexican, culture. There was no way of avoiding it, especially as brown people named Castro living in Los Angeles. When my dad says we weren’t exposed to “Mexican culture,” he’s literally meaning culture from Mexico. He intentionally ignores that Chicano experiences are uniquely American.

my dad with his dad, Richard Castro, Sr., and my dad’s dog, Thor

In our conversations about why he agreed to speak with Rosiak in the first place, my dad admitted that he wanted to lash out at me. He eagerly named his anger about me telling our stories of poverty and economic struggles. I had to probe him harder about the identity piece. His limited response was that we aren’t “Mexican,” again, falsely attempting to equate our identities and experiences with people who live in Mexico. He was taught to assimilate, so he never had an interest in the Chicano movement of his time. During my dad’s formative years, people of Mexican descent living in the US reclaimed their indigenous heritage and forged a new, political identity – Chicano – that acknowledges our in-betweenness, or nepantla. Fortunately, I encountered Chicano contemporaries and learned about this from them. It felt like home for me as a mixed-race person who was eternally caught in the in-between.

Ultimately, WAESN is fine and I am fine. I decided to write this now because there has been enough distance for me to look at it more objectively. My father’s betrayal hurt for a long time, and it will probably always hurt. But this is what Whiteness does to people—to my dad and people like Rosiak. It renders them incapable of valuing their own humanity and the humanity of others. This entire story is a case study in the need for Ethnic Studies.

Leave a Reply