Phillip A. Carinhas


As Interviewed by David Carinhas, March 7, 2015

Philip A. Carinhas: In His Own Words

Hi, my name is Philip Carinhas, born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in the 1960s . I grew up in Brownsville, Texas, and I have one brother and two sisters, and Iím a software engineer. I was aware of segregation in Brownsville -- we live with a lot of Latino Americans in the Valley. Actually, the majority there is Latino. We didnít have a lot of segregation there, but there were areas of poor people living in what we would call, I guess, ďslumĒ type conditions, and some of them were quite bad and probably still are.

I donít see relations between Latino Americans, Mexican Americans in the same way you probably would see them in the news. I believe we should have better relations with Mexico and Latino Americans in general. We have had a lot of lawmakers trying to keep them out, erecting borders and wasting lots of money on what I consider racist policies.

I grew up and I didnít really realize the depth of poverty at the time. I didnít really know what it was like outside of the valley until I moved out. I guess itís no secret that poverty in South Texas is probably some of the worst in the country, even comparable to poverty levels in different parts of the world. Itís pretty intense down there -- there are people who literally live in favela-type of situations, shacks with no running water or electricity. The educational system is not very good, and so the prospects for them are quite... [itís] difficult to get out of that poverty situation.

There is media that acknowledges it, but you donít hear about it too much. NPR did a story about South Texas and the Border area, but they didnít talk about it (poverty) too much. You donít hear the state legislators talking about education in South Texas or what have you.

Affluent families have more opportunities to send their kids to college , and thatís just the way poverty is. I believe there is always a racial factor under the surface. I think there is a difference in treatment for people, Latinos and the Court System, in general. Thatís not just in Brownsville, but all over Texas. The courts definitely give lower fines to wealthier Anglos than they do to Latinos, but I donít have any way to prove that -- I donít have any hard-data.

I spent some time as a graduate student, (Oregon State). The last school I went to school was the University of Wisconsin -- it caters to working class people. You still have to pass the interest requirements and pay tuition, and that makes it difficult to get in and to stay in. I still met a lot of people who believed that anybody could get a college degree. I thought that was, wishful thinking. Some of these folks were not rich. However, their families were working middle class, so they had the benefit of having, most likely, educated parents helping them along the way, but thatís not always the case.

If I were to try to fix the problem today, I would try to ensure that the elected representatives were at least more representative of the actual populous at large. I think at the time it was at least 75% Latino and 25% everything else. I donít think thereís a racial factor, in face value however thereís always a racial factor. Thereís a lot of poor Latino families who do not have the ability to have their kids go to college. Their parents donít have the ability to teach their kids or help them with their school work, so itís a very difficult situation.

Poverty always has risks, especially health -- there are lots of people who have a bad health in the area, we are talking about the Valley, and this could mean being over-weight, diabetes, heart disease. The diet there is very bad, so, yeah, all of those three conditions [are] prevalent. There is also a lot of crime, drug-related crime, because Brownsville is a shipping point through Mexico and Central America for lots of drugs. Thereís always quite a bit of violence, especially these days now with the cartels.