FAIRFAX, Virginia – Mexican rock band Mana urged thousands of Hispanic concert-goers here to take a stand against racism in the United States and never forget where they come from.
“Never forget your roots ... we have to keep fighting those lousy damn racists,” lead singer Fernando “Fher” Olvera told some 10,000 people packed inside George Mason University’s Patriot Center on Thursday night.
Referring to huge flags of Latin American nations that decorated the stage, Olvera said they are a “symbol of Latin American unity.”
During the sold-out show, Mana offered a selection of its biggest hits and a sampling of songs from the band’s latest album and delivered a political message in favor of the environment and immigrant rights.
Olvera called on Hispanics to fight back against what he termed a wave of racism against immigrants in the United States, where Mexicans make up around 60 percent of the Latino population.
Arizona’s SB 1070, a law aimed at identifying and eventually deporting illegal immigrants, has sparked mass protests and boycotts but also inspired similar legislation in other states.
One measure in Alabama, set to take effect Sept. 1, authorizes police to detain suspected illegal migrants in some circumstances, mandates penalties for anyone who transports an undocumented immigrant and requires all employers in the state to use the federal E-Verify system to check the legal eligibility of potential employees.
Virginia, meanwhile, is one of several states that have passed a law that punishes businesses for hiring undocumented immigrants.
During the concert, Olvera also said he was grateful for the presence of advisers to President Barack Obama, whom the band supported in the 2008 election.
Obama, like predecessor George W. Bush, supports “comprehensive” immigration reform that would strengthen border security while also putting millions of – mostly Latin American – undocumented migrants on a path to citizenship.
Mana appealed to the nationalism of thousands of Mexicans in the audience, who loudly cheered when Olvera shouted his customary “Viva Mexico cabrones!” and congratulated the Mexican soccer team that took first place in the recently concluded under-17 world championship.
During Thursday night’s two-hour performance, part of the band’s tour to promote its comeback album “Drama y Luz,” Mana also used a giant screen to convey its pro-environment and pro-immigrant messages.
Twenty-two-year-old Wendy Rocinos, part of a group of young people of Mexican and Central American descent who shouted and took photos with their cellphones throughout the evening, said the concert was “excellent” and that she seconded Mana’s “call to action.”
“I think they’re right because there’s a lot of racism and we have to build a better world,” Rocinos, a U.S. citizen with Salvadoran parents, told Efe.
Another member of her group, Alfredo Chavira, 25, said “there are a lot of ignorant people in this country and they have to understand that there shouldn’t be any racism.”
Mana, which kicked off the tour on June 16 in Puerto Rico, has also played to packed arenas in Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, Dallas, San Antonio and Houston.
Shows are scheduled for Newark, New Jersey; Boston; and Rosemont, Illinois over the next several days. EFE