We Fight We Love [On Immigration]

Jose VilsonJose4 Comments

Arizona arrest

A couple of days ago on the train, I saw a young Black man with a Cubs hat, a multi-colored jacket and a Black t-shirt that read, “You’re in the USA: Now SPEAK ENGLISH!” A large segment of Black communities (and by Black, I mean from African-American, Caribbean Black, etc.) find this meme so self-evident that they’ll completely ignore their own histories. I started making a few assumptions about the young man in my mind. He probably heard this sort of stuff his whole life from parents who were subjected to the sort of bigoted thinking that puts disadvantaged groups against one another regularly. He probably had a few arguments like this with peers who came from different countries too. He probably gets eye-rolls left and right from people who look similarly to him. He’s probably talking about those who speak a “lower class” language instead of the ones that make you intelligent, ones I’m not sure of myself. He probably doesn’t speak or write in the Queen’s English either.

Then again, that’s me making presumptions based on looks alone. My headphones were on full blast (Rage Against The Machine, if you must know), so I didn’t hear a sound from him. I had no way to quickly scan his employment status, Social Security number, DNA, lie detector, parents, neighborhood, voter status, or anything of that nature that would give me reasonable suspicions about any of my previous assertions.

It means I have to do all this guesswork based on only one human sense, my eyes, and that makes no sense.

That’s why the Arizona immigration bill makes no sense to me. After reading through the whole bill (here’s the quick fact sheet), I found a few things disturbing. First, the bill explicitly outlines provisions that justify the “guilty until proven innocent” mentality. No provisions under the bill ensure that law enforcement officials can’t discriminate based on race or cultural background in employment or arrest. Furthermore, the bill gives freedom to law enforcement officials to hunt down, without warrant, anyone they choose just on the premise of “reasonable suspicion,” whatever reasonable means. It’s like a state-level USA PATRIOT Act, but replacing “terrorist” for “illegal alien.” Also, it makes it unlawful for people to pick up workers from one locale. hire them for work, and move them to another place. On the surface, I agree with this, but how effectively will law enforcement officially really carry this out when some of the wealthier individuals in this country hire those very workers?

This bill is symbolic of the constant dehumanization efforts by intolerant and uncooperative government hellbent on proliferating divisions, and laws like this prove me right. In the book On Writing Well, William K. Zinsser believes we’ve become too PC by replacing “illegal aliens” with “undocumented workers.” Usually, I’d agree except that the former accentuates the foreign and inhumane versus the latter highlights the purpose of so many of these workers coming here. While there’s definitely diversity amongst these undocumented workers (Irish, Russian, Chinese, Haitian, Dominican, etc.), only a certain segment of our population gets stigmatized with this bill (Mexican / South Americans) and that’s wrong.

This entire country was built on the backs of undocumented workers from all walks of life and never as a collective had the backing of the United States government. It’s time now for real reasoning. Let’s make just and appropriate laws that address the reason why people hire cheap labor over borders, bring them here, and then dispose of them as soon as they’ve become acclimated to the culture and understand their rights as citizens. Let’s talk more concretely about how corporations would prefer not to pay minimum wage to workers here, thus limiting jobs that people purport lower classes “should take.” Let’s talk about the myriad of “internships” and “volunteer” work popping up all over the country where the places essentially ask these people to do jobs for next to nothing for a promised chance in the future.

And only when we address this do we see that change comes with a sense of love and humanity. Understanding can’t always be signed into law, but we can certainly promote and encourage it as part of the culture. When the protestors wave their signs and strike their fists in the air on May Day (May 1st), trust that this comes from an emotion deeper than anger. We fight, we love. We do so throughout our lives and people definitely know this. Revolutions are born from that emotion.

For sure, a few seats away from the standing young Black man sat a young Mexican man, dirty cap and so beat, he might have missed every stop on the train if not for the constant shuffling of people through the busy stops.

I suspect they were both just trying to get home. Wherever home was.

Jose, who stands in solidarity …

Comments 4

  1. In my home town it is the Somolians who catch the blues. It seems that there are portions of the African American community that feel they are causing us problems. I have worked with children and their families from this community and they are no different than any other human beings that I’ve encountered. But they are often the subject of unfair treatment and harasshment from other Black people and lae enforcement because they are Muslims.

    At somepoint in time the battle for the rights of immirants is going to bring us all face to face. There are going to be people who will opt to not support them and use their American roots to justify their decision. Hopefully there will be more people who support sane and just treatment for every person in this nation.

  2. Pingback: Can You Beat A Lie Detector

  3. “sometimes I get confused of who we are, maybe if we just stopped and chat” c/o the abstract…
    Wouldnt it be sensible for us humans to stop and chat, only to discover ourselves as one another. That would be too much like easy though. I struggle with all of the intricacies of this debate because I believe many of them to be farce and historically out of context, particularly when we talk about borders. Yes, the West may have been won but it was not done with humanity or legality in mind. The Southwest is not outside of this notion either. These borders are imagianary and sufficient when it is beneficial for large corporations or the American economy. The same borders are less sufficient when people become entangled in the argument and some others have to look forward to a 2050 that looks more brown than WASP. Anyhow, I agree Jose, we have to fight on and love on…ignorance is not bliss.

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