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Monday, March 27, 2006 

Beyond the Band-aides

It is time to start looking deep within ourselves and really look at the problem of the divide here in the United States. Yesterday, at ePluribus Media a question was asked in regards to the lack of a true progressive representation at yesterday's march that was held in LA, Where were the progressives from outside of the Latino community today?

A diary written in Booman Tribune by Eternal Hope, Sickening: Kossacks supporting the Minutemenm confirms the claims made by another Booman Tribune diariest Man Eegee, Gut-Check Time on Immigration.

I felt the comment I made in Eternal Hope's diary really needed to be addressed if we really are wanting to heal this country.
As long as this issue is sweep under the rug and labeled "[not] my issue" to defend, then there will never be a true disscussion. There have been too many band-aides to this wound and people refuse to see the hemorrhaging that is taking place.
We had our chance to address many of these issues right after Hurricane Katrina, during Chief Justice Roberts' and Justice Alito's confirmation but we failed. The country did what it does best, just place more band-aides over the problems and hope it does not come up again. It is time to say BASTA!!!

Back to the question that was asked, "Where were the progressives from outside of the Latino community today?" the fact is, this question has been asked not just by Hispanics, but also Feminist, African Americans, Native Americans, the working class, the pro-Union, disability rights advocates and many others that is suppose to emcompass the liberal/progressive movement.

Whenever a minority or a gender issue is raised, it is often dismissed as a single issue and self-serving. It is damaging because because if complaints are made, they are often dismissed as making something out of nothing as we have seen over and over again.

More below the fold

The immigration issue is not only about racism, but it is also sexism and classism. Whenever an issue dealing with race or gender needs to be addressed, we as individuals become so afraid talk about it because it might reveal we to are contributing to the problem, which would require admitting to ourselves we do have our prejudices when it comes to ethnic, race, gender, social economic, and disability issues.

If we do not address the source that is causing this divide, how are we to address the moral juxtaposition that continues to divide America. The source of this moral delema are the messages we receive from society, and this is the crux of the problem. It is these messages that are shaping our view on any group.

Let's take the immigration issue. Fact is, immigration emcompasses all other immigrant communities, not just Hispanics. But, the message that was given out to the public is that Hispanics are the ones who have intensified many existing social problems and created a number of new ones. The immigrantion debate revolves around two issues; one, "the war on terrorism" and the other, on a myth - La Reconquista, Mexico's plan to take back its lost territory. In my blog, I wrote about the America's cruel history of deportation in the 20th century, which is now into the 21st century. HR4437 talks about building a wall, and where will this wall be built? On the US-Mexico border, yet, nobody feels threaten by Canadians, even though the hijackers came through Canada.

From the State Department:
Who from Canada and Mexico, Needs a Nonimmigrant Visa to Enter the United States Temporarily?
Citizens of Canada do not require a visa, except as described below.

Canadian citizens travelling to the US for these purposes require nonimmigrant visas:
  • foreign government officials (A);
  • officials and employees of international organizations (G),;
  • NATO officials, representatives and employees if s if they are being assigned to the U.S. (as opposed to an official trip).
Citizens and permanent residents of Mexico generally must have a nonimmmigrant visa or Border Crossing Card (also known as a "Laser Visa"). The Border Crossing Card, Form DSP-150 is a biometric, machine readable, visitor B1-B2 visa/Border Crossing Card that may be used to enter the U.S. from within the Western Hemisphere. Select Border Crossing Card to learn more about the requirements for this card.
To someone like me, a Xicano/Mexican-American/Hispanic/Latino, this is out right racism and a double standard.

Take a look at a study done last year, "Network Brownout Report," by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
  • One out of every three Latino stories (34.7 percent) was about immigration in 2004. More than one hour of coverage was devoted to the topic, making up almost a third (31.6 percent) of the total time (three hours 25 minutes) devoted to Latino stories.
  • Half of all Latino stories (58 out of 115 stories) did not feature an interview with a Latino.
  • Latino coverage lacked depth, with one third (33 percent) of all stories lasting 30 seconds or less.
  • Out of 115 Latino stories, 47 (41 percent) featured visual images of groups of unidentified Latinos. Of the 47 stories, 31 (66 percent) featured immigrants, including images of illegal border crossings.
  • A significant proportion of Latino stories lacked diversity of opinion. Of 115 stories, more than one third (41 stories) did not cite a single source. Of the stories using sources, 40 percent (46 stories) presented mostly one perspective.
Immigration was a central theme in much of the networks' coverage, regardless of story topic. Most immigration stories focused on undocumented immigration. Many showed images of unidentified groups of undocumented immigrants crossing the border illegally or being arrested by the U.S. Border Patrol.
  • Overall, Latinos were viewed as problem people and burdens to society in 2004.
  • Stories on Latinos and politics focused on the use of Spanish by the presidential candidates and portrayed Latinos as a monolithic group of voters. Issues important to Latinos were virtually ignored.
  • Networks continued to use the theme of the American dream to frame stories about Latinos, without providing more substantive coverage.
The country is undergoing an historic demographic shift, yet network coverage has failed to explain this change and its impact on our society. We fear viewers watching the network news have learned very little about the Latino community since we issued our first Network Brownout Report in 1996.

What viewers have learned is that too often Latinos are portrayed as problem people living on the fringes of U.S. society. Rarely do we see stories about the positive contributions of Latinos.
The issue of classism can be found within the Hispanic community because more affluent Hispanics separate themselves from undocumented immigrants. Sure, Hispanics will advocate for Hispanic rights, but there is also a fine line. I wonder how many affluent Hispanics attended any of the recent pro-immigration/anti-HR4437/anti-S.2454 rallies? I would imagine a few, it is not their "problem." And yet it is.

There are also gender issues, such as, the gender role for women change drastically when they arrive to the US because it counters many of their cultural values. From a study, Gender(ed) Migrations: Shifting Gender Subjectivities in a Transnational Mexican Community, conducted by Deborah A. Boehm at the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies:
Without question, women in the United States exercise flexible and diverse roles, and are redefining femininity and what it means to be a woman. Teresa, for example, has a life that is quite distinct from her previous life in Mexico. In Mexico, she tells me that she was constantly in her home doing domestic chores, and that her family struggled because they had so little money. Today, Teresa works full-time for a clothing manufacturer, and she is responsible for many public interactions--with her children's teachers and doctors, the family's immigration attorney, bank tellers, and her realtor, among others. But while Teresa finds herself in spheres that are entirely new for her, and in charge of important family business, she still is the one who must do everything in the home. Her teenage daughters help with the load, but her husband and son do not. Teresa tells me that she is exhausted. She says that she has even purchased a daily planner-- something she thought was ridiculous when she first saw a co-worker using one. But now, she explains,  her life is so hectic that she is lucky to just get by.
Immigration also deals with labor issues and many other issues. The question must be asked, when gender issues are brought up, how often are immigrants included in the debate? The same thing can be asked about labor issues. May union members feel threaten they are losing blue collar jobs to undocumented workers, why not bring them in or help organize so they too can be protected under labor rights. Obviously it is possible to organize, if not, how does one explain the success of the United Farm Workers.

There are many who call themselves liberal and are quick to recite Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when it comes to civil rights, but MLK was also an anti-war activist.

From Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s November 1967 speech at the National Labor Leadership Assembly for Peace:
Now what are some of the domestic consequences of the war in Vietnam? It has made the Great Society a myth and replaced it with a troubled and confused society...It has given the extreme right, the anti-labor, anti-Negro, and anti-humanistic forces a weapon of spurious patriotism to galvanize its supporters into reaching for power, right up to the White House. It hopes to use national frustration to take control and restore the America of social insecurity and power for the privileged. When a Hollywood performer, lacking distinction even as an actor can become a leading war hawk candidate for the Presidency, only the irrationalities induced by a war psychosis can explain such a melancholy turn of events.

At this moment tens of thousands of people and anti-poverty programs are being abruptly thrown out of jobs and training programs to search in a diminishing job market for work and survival. It is disgraceful that a Congress that can vote upwards of $35 billion a year for a senseless immoral war in Vietnam cannot vote a weak $2 billion dollars to carry on our all too feeble efforts to bind up the wound of our nations 35 million poor. This is nothing short of a Congress engaging in political guerilla warfare against the defenseless poor of our nation.

When I first decided to take a firm stand against the war in Vietnam, I was subjected to the most bitter criticism, by the press, by individuals, and even by some fellow civil rights leaders. There were those who said that I should stay in my place, that these two issues did not mix and I should stick with civil rights. Well I had only one answer for that and it was simply the fact that I have struggled too long and too hard now to get rid of segregation in public accommodations to end up at this point in my life segregating my moral concerns.
Often called the Latino Martin Luther King, like King, Cesar Chavez also advocated for civil rights and economic justice for all people. Before MLK was assassinated, MLK sent a telegram commending Chavez's public "fast" to protest the violence taking place during the Famous Delano Grape Strike. MLK wrote:
"You and your valiant fellow workers have demonstrated your commitment to righting grievous wrongs forced upon exploited people. We are together with you in spirit and determination that our dreams for a better tomorrow will be realized." Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
I wonder what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would say about the current state of affairs and our divide?

Instead of asking where were the rest of the progressives, I ask you this:
How could we progress as a society and talk about civil liberties, yet allow millions of immigrant families be condemned to a life without pride?

How could we progress as a people while immigrants here in the US are being denied their self-respect?

But most of all, how can you believe that your child can become lawyers and doctors and judges and business people while this shame, this injustice is permitted to continue?

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  • From Tejas, United States
  • Un Xicano who is tired of the current status quo.
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