|by Carol Amoruso, Hispanic Village Feature Writer
Vicente Fox, Bush and undocumented workers rights activists promote drivers licenses, access to public education and sanctioned residency while members of the First Nations fight to keep the corruptors from running them over, invalidating their heritage, rightful claims to what was treaty agreed and pumping the N aquifer dry.
Now, let’s get something straight. My issue is with the “walk right in and gimme” approach, NOT Hispanics. My issue is the “We just want to do it right” declaration when “right” was left at the entry door.
Gimme Some Too!,
[March 24, 2003]
With all due respect, I beg to take issue with your stance in a recent, provocative article, “Gimme Some Too!” I think I understand your position, but I see the picture as larger than the one you present. (But, correct me if I am wrong): You see a sea around you of Johnny-come-latelies (Latino or no) who threaten what it’s taken you, a Native American, so hard and long to gain. You’ve been pushing the rope up the hill for centuries here, and now someone kicks dirt in your face. Native Americans and African Americans can dispute who’s been more maligned by the “American experience,” but “America’s” is an ignominious history. So now, you begin to reclaim your turf and some new guy wants to cut in on you. And he doesn’t even have title to the land and not even visiting privileges.
Hands of desperation
This land was (re)built by the hands of desperation, the hands of the First and Slave Nations and the hands of peasants who came flooding through open doors when it was expedient for the Colonizers to hold them open‹so that their backs could be broken, their lungs blackened, so that they could be buried under a tombstone and maybe leave a little something for their kids. Nada mas. Nothing more. Immigrants have never had it easy here, either, especially the brown ones. The door was wide when we needed the Chinese to build the railroads or Mexicans to work the budding fields of agribusiness. Then it closed when numbers began to threaten, when machines began to take over. But the closed door hasn’t changed the need to find sustenance for one’s family world-wide.
The door is shut now by laws that discriminate, keeping out those same black and brown people the long arm of corporate greed and globalism have made more miserable at home, driving them off their ancient, sacred land (sound familiar?) and into sweat shops at $4 a day. They can’t raise cabbage and corn any more because subsidized produce from Uncle Sam has put them out of business and they can’t even buy the cars or the t.v. sets that they assemble. Those to the south of us follow the sweatshop trail and creep closer and closer to the border until they can make it over, under or through. Illegally. To $50 or $60 or even $100 a day. Can you blame them? Can you want to take that away from them? Turn them back to $4 a day? Or complete misery?
Divide and conquer
The Colonizers’ eternal ploy is the divide and conquer game; they’ve played it since the importation of the slaves: “Watch out, the new guys are gonna take away your jobs, your houses, all the ‘privileges’ earned by being good little Colonized.” Take heed. It’s just their way to stay on top and keep you from trading stories at the water cooler‹or trough, as the Colonizers may allow.
In a better world, I would not allow borders. In this world, I don’t believe in this border. What right did the second illegal aliens have to draw the line between Trespasser Number Two (the Anglos) and Trespasser Number One (the Spanish)? To divide forever groups/families, nations of the same people, your people, to deculturalize them then reculturalize them so that they would lose their fraternity. Divide and conquer. You feel estranged from the Nations to the south, and made to feel threatened by them as well.
Equal opportunity bleeding heart
I am a globalist. I write about the FTAA threatening to put workers out on the streets in Argentina and I feel for them just as I do for workers here. I’ve spent enough time in Africa and around Africans to feel I know them as well as fellow “Americans” from the heartland where I’ve never been. I’ve never been in a McDonalds, but I can rustle up a mean ackee and saltfish (Jamaica’s national dish). An Iraqi woman is as much my sister as the president of the Harper Valley PTA.
Thus, my heart bleeds all over the globe. An 9 year-old girl sold into prostitution in India touches me as much as a steelworker in Pittsburgh wracked with cancer of the larynx, or a Native American child, desolate and dispirited who has taken his own life. If the Colonizers are equal opportunity oppressors, then I am an equal opportunity bleeding heart.
For me the solution is not to deprive these people their driver’s license, their right to earn as much as I, of citizenship even and a fair go of the spoils, but for all to make concert with each other and say, “Basta ya.” Enough already.
There is more common purpose here than reason for discord and distrust. Non-Metropolitan peoples here, Native Americans included ‹ even the marginalized progeny of the Colonizers ‹ need to find that common bond and celebrate it, assert their rights and dignity, and fight for policies that would give everyone honorable work at honorable pay, opportunities for themselves and their children to an education or meaningful vocation, a humane living environment, an unpoisoned workplace.
It’s not, “Why should he walk right in and get the job, or the license or the housing that I’ve had to fight 500 years for?” but, “Why should Michael Eisner, the former CEO of Disney who goes about the world spawning some of the most notorious sweatshops while commandeering the media to poison our minds about the ‘good old American way’ be paid ‹ back in 1993 ‹ $203,010,590 (no misprint there, that’s two hundred and three plus million in salary and stock), while we sit around earning but Eisner’s last 5 digits, fighting over crumbs, or driver’s licenses or who should or should not receive medical care?” There’s much much more than enough to go around. We also need to support our brothers/sisters to the south in their struggle to stay on their land, and for decent wages and living conditions, so that they won’t need to risk their lives, abandon their loved ones, their culture, for the chavo (the [chump] change) and not much else, including a hostile welcoming party.
This is not a good time to oppose the protection of immigrants. If we’ve lived in a stolen land for 500 years, we’re now living under stolen rule, in an o(i)ligarchy that has no regard for any law that does not further its imperialist, xenophobic agenda. Wholesale deportations are going on now of people who’ve done nothing more heinous than running a red light, and they’re being separated forever from families, many thrown back into a lion’s den of worse repression from which they barely escaped to get here.
I’ve never been a fan of “This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land,” either. I hate its platitudes and insipidness. Besides, the only land it truly is is “your land,” Jordan. But, since there’s little now you can do to reclaim it as it was, maybe we shouldn’t sing of a your land and a my land, but an “our land.” Then, let the Colonizers put that in their pipe and smoke it.
(c) 2001, Hispanic Link News Service. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate International, a division of Tribune Media Services