THE USA WHITE SOUTH has always been a bit…collectively delusional. But you can’t blame that on the South. It’s long been the American way (as well as the way of a number of other countries and peoples throughout time) to blaze into an area, steal land through legitimized war, law, or other displays of naked aggression and then imagine it can be remade and the history and rights of those who lived there, forgotten.
I can’t quite agree with the characterization of the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote—I don’t see Mexican/Mexican culture as a negative, nor bemoan the fact that nature and reality tend to assert themselves despite humankinds’ persistent fantasies to the contrary—but I do appreciate, even as he was a member of the growing Empire, his grasp of the future:
“The United States will conquer Mexico, but it will be as the man swallows the arsenic, which brings him down in turn. Mexico will poison us.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson, prior to the American Invasion of México
He’s kind of saying…you can’t fool Mother Nature. Or…truth will out.
Either way, in this day and age and cultural mood, this sounds terribly dramatic and fearsome, but of course, coming from a member of an imperialist , colonizing nation the view makes sense. It is, albeit with some insight, and I’d like to imagine a dollop of moral foreboding—the very same lens that most the lawmakers in Arizona are seeing through. All while they and the GOP croak-soothy and tell us these sorts of bills are attempting to Protect America or some weird racist shit like that.
But the mask slips in this Age of Obama and the Terrifying® notion of a shrinking white population. And the mask finally, I think, is falling.
The Arizona Department of Education recently began telling school districts that teachers whose spoken English it deems to be heavily accented or ungrammatical must be removed from classes for students still learning English. […]
“This is just one more indication of the incredible anti-immigrant sentiment in the state,” said Bruce Merrill, a professor emeritus at Arizona State University who conducts public-opinion research. […]
Adding insult to injury, the Arizona legislature passed a bill yesterday outlawing ethnic studies programs:
HB 2281 would make it illegal for a school district to have any courses or classes that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, are designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group or advocate ethnic solidarity “instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.”
It also would ban classes that “promote resentment toward a race or class of people.”
The measure is directed at the Tuscon Unified School District’s popular Mexican-American studies department …
It’s cute how they tie “overthrowing the government” with “ethnic studies.” But we know, of course, it is not Chican@s who are talking about overthrowing this corrupt government. It’s white people, today. Patriots. Joe Stack types. Oathkeepers and Oklahoma Bomber types.
I will make clear that I am not interested in a culture war that pits “white culture” vs remembering my roots and family and the history of the US and Mexico. Firstly, I don’t know what “white culture” is. It seems to me a phrase trying to pose an object by naming a non-entity, as “whiteness” is really a implied negation posing as an entity in the first place. White Culture, as it were, doesn’t exist. It can only reasonably be identified when no other cultural signifier exists. It’s an ideological vacuum. That’s why when Glenn Doofus Beck was asked what white culture actually was, he thought IT WAS A TRICK QUESTION. Let that soak in for a second: Glenn Beck admits that his own beliefs are tricks played on him by others. And yet, he lacks any self reflection of the fact that he has been brainwashed into a type of young senility. All while thinking, somehow, that he has anything of worth to say to anyone about anything—especially culture and identity!!
Secondly, I don’t see a problem with me remembering my history, familia, and the history of the US invasion into Mexico and related realities. I just don’t see this as competition with what old, white people in Arizona want to do with their day.
So Arizona is really losing it’s cool. And I am very glad the mask is dropping.
ICE, Arpaio, FAIR, AZ’s always harsh and hostile posture toward immigrants (ahem, Mexicans) Culture-Murder/Intellectual Ethnic Cleansing agendas, as shown in this latest move….
The most frustrating and crazymaking part of focusing on, eradicating, or exposing racist movements is that since they are movements based on fear and ignorance, they slither; they do not stand in truth. They are afraid to admit their real intent. (Because even those harmful humans do have a heart and conscience and working mind, tho slathered under the sediment of self-deception, and so do have shame for their actions on a deep, dark, quiet and subverbal level.) They live in confusion, in other words. So they sow confusion in others in order to carry out their work.
Without that public ignorance cloak to shield them, the gig falls apart with enough people walking away from that energy and agenda. Which is what is happening today in the USA. That’s why Dan Stein of FAIRon Maddow the other day was so furious. (Ew, he has such an ugly energy!) That’s why all he cared about was how what Rachel was doing was sowing “division” between FAIR and “Hispanics.” If FAIR loses its fake-ass image of being One With the People and ONLY against ILLEGULZ, they’ve got nada.
AZ, in losing its cool, is blowing the lid off all that cover. It’s a scary, ugly, beautiful thing.
DURING my break of two weeks from the online desktop world, SB 1070 was passed and the criminal sheriffJoeArpaio and his department’s ArizonaAntics were overshadowed. I was frustrated that blogging was pretty much impossible for me in that time—for the first time in a long time. Sometimes blogging feels like so much noise and sublimation. And is. And sometimes, it is a very needed public expression of outrage, of solidarity, of information. Now, as many agree, is a time for those things. Especially in light of the infectious harm that is known as SB 1070.
Let us remember that SB 1070 is to legislation what Arpaio is to lawmen. They both spring from the same rotted cradle. And Arpaios relentless, unflinching championing and implementation of the 287g provision of law is what paved the way for SB 1070 to even seem somewhat reasonable. Let us remember that while everyone is outraged about SB 1070, Arpaio was being given TV propz and until he began losing his mind and turning the law on politicians who disagreed with him, he was pretty widely supported.
This video was my reminder of the fact that he is out there doing his dirty business, and was created right before the SB 1070 law passed…which reminded us all of everything that needed a reminder.
THOSE WHO RUN MAINSTREAM BLOGS and by that I mean white blogs, and by that I mean blogs that mostly pretend justice can be found by traveling all the well-worn channels of conversation and operation and who do not challenge the standing vampiric order by reminding readers of the systemic racism that girds the US’ international actions, domestic reality, criminal law system, entire prison industry, immigration law, and media portrayal do not have the same comment moderation experience that others do. That I do. That Racialicious does, that Zuky does, that ManEegee does, that Blackamazon does, that many of my friends do. They surely deal with blowhard know-it-alls and all forms of annoying commenters, but there really is something different about the responses you get when you DARE to write as if mexicans are decent, good, intelligent, creative humans too (IMAGINE!), or that Blacks or Asians are equal to, and at times superior in ability, to whites. There is a special form of outrage and murderous intent that comes your way when you write about real history, and don’t mouth all the propaganda our nation sells to us. There is just something really vile and disgusting about the animosity that rises in reaction.
So we moderate our comments. Because we are not beholden to some weird idea that we deserve hate and to display it like some little gold star on our blogchest. I have never, ever had any compunction about that. I used to have to battle with commenters about even that point. They seem to have given up, maybe my blog has a reputation for not dealing with that stuff, maybe the color of page I chose repels hate, I don’t know. But there is a very simple precept that I operate on. I am here (or on YouTube, etc) to create an undiluted message; to present a strong presence and reality that will not be found in other media. Giving hate part of the stage would make no sense, when it has so much territory of its own already.
Again, none of my friends (people of color) out here feel any strange notion to leave those comments when they appear, like flies clustering to saliva-slicked candy. Let the white feminist blogs battle all day with misogynists who flock to their threads. But that becomes a battle and an endeavor all on its own…and that is not what I came out here to do. I didn’t one day in 2006 say “Hmm. I really wish I could take all this hate I feel coming at Mexicanos…and manifest it in the form of comments on a page that was associated with me. I think I’ll start a blog!”
No. It was more like “There is too much anti-Mex racism and hate flying around in the air, on the street, in my neighborhood, and in the media and it is unchallenged and it needs to be CHALLENGED and COUNTERED and I need to be doing that.”
So I laugh when people leave whiny comments about my moderating their hateful screeds. They actually criticize me for not letting them center their vitriol! As if just by the direction the hate is traveling in, it is righteous. I’m thinking now of my YouTube video I made in February about SB 1070. I allow through a fair amount of the nasty comments when I feel like batting them around. But many I do not. Many are simply poisonous. And as I replied to one person who thought sneering in hate at me was the way to make their comments be made visible, “I understand. It hurts to find even one tiny place online where you are not free to spew nasty shit about immigrants or people of color. I bet you wish you could just run around rampant on my page, sucking up all the oxygen and centering your own hostility.”
And I’m fucking with him. But the truth is, they really are baffled! I know that. It really just seems surreal to them—in a culture, national culture, media culture—to find any spot where The Understood Hierarchy is not in place. White on top, color all underneath and subservient to any opinion and feeling and abuse white feels like dishing. We get normalized to anything that is around us, we get habituated, as is the term in the field. It’s that sense of NORMAL that destroys people of color in this nation. Our lives, our minds, our bodies, our families, our legacies, our opportunities.
When people—white people in this example—protest at reaching but not being able to grasp this power normally so accessible to them, you can hear the tones of frustration and fear. Those used to napping in the satin bedding of undeserved privilege don’t WANNA wake up and mow the lawn. They don’t HAFTA. It’s not FAIRRRRRRRRRRRR
Just ask Mitt Romney, who hires help to carve out a pretty, illegal lawn for him.
When Glenn Beck, the foofy crybaby millionaire vampire, moans about the “death of white culture”? This is what he means. The death of his ability to dish abuse on non-whites and have it be NORMAL. Arizona doesn’t quite understand either (or the legislators with power I ought to say, because I’m betting most of Arizona is brown people who don’t agree with these landowners and lawmakers). Right now they are all “Hunh?? Wha’ ‘appened?? All we did was institute the Rightful Hierarchy!”
It’s a changing nation. I mean what the hell did they expect? For all the slaves that were dragged here never to fall in love and have children with each other? Or that when the slaveowners raped their slaves (or even had love affairs with them) that the descendants would never have skin that reflected the dominant genes of one of their parents? That the Indians in the hot lands would stay down there? That the Chinese would dig the mines and then go home? That the Indians here in the north would teach the invaders how to farm and then fade away? That the Chileans and Japanese and El Salvadorans and Argentinians and Mexicans and Blacks who powered the economic and agricultural and garment industries would never procreate? Or that Melanin and epicanthic features can be wished into oblivion?
Of course the nation is browning! This land—not too long ago, some need reminding—was entirely populated by non-whites. Aside from the European (French and Spanish and British) forces that showed up wanting gold or goldlike opportunity, that is who lived here and that is who was brought here in droves. Or, for example, in the case of Mexicans, that is the workforce that the nation advertised for and solicited!
Some people—mostly the older generations at this point—dwell in illusion about this plain fact, and losing your illusions HURTS. Having the White Lens peeled off by the caustic hands of reality HURTS.
Here is the sad part:
Those people flocking online to spread hate…they are nobodies. In terms of who is caging whom? They are not staff at the zoo, only other visitors. They are just as oppressed in thought as anyone. They are tools. They say “go back to where you came from” without thinking twice about any of this. The logic is so….stupid that you can’t even argue with it. That’s why I don’t usually. Sometimes I’ll respond when they cry You are stealing jobs and breaking our laws! Maybe I’ll say I was born here. Or You do know that US industry advertises for labor in Spanish on Mexican radio, right? Or You do know that railroad towns in many instances originated from the shanties and camps set up by Mexican workers, right? But mostly I don’t. Because like the song almost says, “They only have eyes for you…below them.” And that’s all these ones can see.
And all the while, these people are being used. They show up spouting lines that would make politicians jump like monkeys and clap with their feet. Sure, they have a heart and mind and their momma loves them, I bet. Some of them, at least.
But as time wears away the illusions, they understand they have been duped on some level. And being fooled stings. It humiliates. The stories preached in films and on TV and in books and in classrooms about the inherent white superiority and natural ability to succeed and Be Greater Than (and this includes dominating in numbers) were lies. These people who now live the dawning of the lie need someone to blame for this new pain. There are already prescribed scapegoats. They begin to seethe with frustration because while many of us already understood the nature of the illusion (because we’ve already paid for our lesson with pain) they are just getting around to seeing reality. They want to punish someone for their having been tricked. And just like trained animals, this small group of reality-resisters aren’t great at producing original thought on their own, and fall back on their training. And point to us. That’s who they want to punish for their being fooled.
Progress will come. It is coming. It is arriving. It is on its way. We are living it. It won’t be instant. It will hurt. Like harvesting crops in the blistering sun, it will exact a cost, a toll of pain and sweat. Did ya think justice grows on trees? Even if it did, you’d need someone to pick it. This time, I say don’t leave that work to others. Because they might decide later that the orchard belongs to those who work it.
MY FIRST THOUGHTS when I read about the boycott on Arizona as a reaction to their passing SB 1070 were, yeah! Let’s do it. Make them feel the pain. Nobody pays too much attention to anyone or anything in this nation unless it either costs a lot or makes a lot of cash.
But then I thought about how POC are always going to suffer more when an economy dips…and that the boycott might be a sort of double punishment on those already suffering greatly in AZ.
And then I thought some more, and a Twitter amigo added the thought that it’s gonna be rough on gente in AZ no matter what. That made sense. And not just now. After all, this is the state that fought against an MLK holiday!
So I think AZ should feel the pain from the rest of the Union. Because this state has decided that it wants to return to an era that the rest of the Union—the other states in the US—has left behind. A boycott by the rest of the states, or as many as possible, says “Okay. You want to go in a whole different direction than the country? Then do without the rest of the country’s support for a while. Think that over.”
HARD TIMES HAVE FALLEN UPON US ALL! I know this for sure simply watching the donations I once received from readers—unsolicited aside from the buttons on the page—dry up over the past year or two. It’s tough out there, and it’s not just blog donations but even work online with graphics that has tapered off a lot. In fact, I was bumped offline for two weeks for not being able to pay all the bills this month. And to be honest, this is the first time since I’ve lived in this apartment that I don’t have all the rent this close to the first of next month. Ouch. That’s four days away.
I’m not trying to paint a doom n gloom scenario. I’m involved in a couple ventures that I think will begin to pay off more. They have a lot of potential and I’m putting all I can into them. But right now, they are not paying. And I’m in that spot. So I’m going to do something here I’ve not done in a while and humble myself to make the direct request to my philanthropist friends, or the ones who have a few to throw down to support their friendly neighborhood nezua: if you have a few, throw ’em in the bucket!
Alternately, I have put one of my paintings up at eBay, and I invite you to bid, or spread the link around if you want. It’s an 18 x 24″ Lotería card of the infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Granted, the Buy It Now price is at $200, but that’s sort of my little pipe dream. If I get that, far out. But I kicked it off at only $5, and there is no reserve and it’s over in three days.So lessgo!
I might as well add that I don’t like the “we lined the border with all our crummiest states” joke and the noticeable roar of laughter that follows. It’s too easy for his audience to respond warmly to a comment that instead of bolstering up human rights or highlighting racism, instead practices the same old slurs AGAINST Mexicans. Because…why are all the border states the “crummiest” ones, eh? Right.
Anyway! Aside from that one sour moment, I found this a much needed relief. Thanks to mis amigas over at VivirLatino for the link.
You know this joyful sound! I’ve posted his music before. He was a member of what I think of as the original Reggae crew—those musicians who were played in my house for years as I grew up and who first imprinted on me what “Reggae” was. It’s branched out a lot since, but in my world it was revolutionary music. A joyful revolution of spirit, as well as a liberation of the mind, as well as a call to justice in the streets and for the people who are taken advantage of on the regular. That was and is still Reggae to me, and that sort of music will always be needed. These days, especially, it seems.
BACK IN MY FIERY TAKE-NO-PRISONERS DAYS of writing this blog, I began referring to the “Long War” on the indigenous of this continent. It is a war of weapons, of lies, of law, of land, and a billion micro-aggressions against both the idea and the reality that this land—if land can really be said to belong to anyone—belongs to and has been nurtured and nourished and tended by peoples who have been systematically hindered, harassed, hounded and hunted by outside forces and their descendants. Those who know what I mean, know what I mean. Those who do not will not, for they have been brainwashed by the poison that the televisionation spews out daily to maintain an illusion that exacts a cost of blood, bad dreams, and the pain of millions. We call it The American Dream. And yeah, today I’m a bit angry. Today, we see not yet another micro-aggression through our oversensitive racial lens but a very tangible, very dangerous bill (Senate Bill 1070) signed into Arizona law by Governor Jan Brewer.
In February of this year, I tried to communicate my feelings and thoughts on this bill.
This bill makes the racists happy. Just dig the comment threads on anyvideos on this topic. Sweet lord, these vile, selfish, thoughtless creeps who cluster to threads on immigration oughtta be shipped out to their very own island as far as I’m concerned. Judging by 90% of the noise they make, they simply are not fit to share a community or society with other people. They should be airlifted to an island and stuck there with a library of history books and made to work their own land and wait on their own damn tables and watch their own kids and chop up their own steers and otherwise bootstrap their asses to their own private, ridiculous destiny and leave the rest of us out.
[Cardinal] Mahony, a nationally influential figure who heads the nation’s largest Roman Catholic archdiocese with 4.3 million members, lambasted Pearce’s bill on his blog this week, likening it to “German Nazi and Russian Communist techniques” that compelled people to turn each other in.
“The Arizona Legislature just passed the country’s most retrogressive, mean-spirited, and useless anti-immigrant law,” the cardinal wrote on his blog. “The tragedy of the law is its totally false reasoning: that immigrants come to our country to rob, plunder, and consume public resources. That is not only false, the premise is nonsense.”
“First and foremost, we are concerned with public safety, and we don’t know that this will be of benefit to public safety.”
“This is a federal issue, that obviously needs some addressing on the federal level.”
— Josh Copley, deputy chief, Arizona Flagstaff police department
“Unfortunately, the governor is afraid to stand left of the radical politics of (Arizona Rep.) Russell Pearce. The issue has divided Arizona and divided the nation, and only in Arizona have we chosen to embarrass ourselves in proclaiming some sort of radical resolution to this issue when there isn’t an easy solution at all.”
“The real solution belongs in comprehensive immigration reform that John McCain outlined three years ago when he was running for president. Until we get that, and this law repealed, we’re simply going to have community division and chaos within the command of police departments.”
— Tom Chabin, AZ state representative, D-Flagstaff
“I believe that it’s bad legislation … I have a concern about putting my officers in a position to have them profile people based on the color of their skin and the language they speak.”
— Bill Pribil, Arizona Coconino County sheriff
“This really is a massive expansion of police power, promoted by a Legislature that claims to be in favor of small government.”
— Joel Olson, NAU political science professor [source]
Aside from driving a vicious wedge between the police and most of the community, there are the myriad legal problems that occur when you let fringey racist elements start trying to flesh their murky animosity into standing and practicable law:
Imagine the following scenario:
A Tucson police officer pulls over a white person driving alone for a cracked windshield. By what standard or metric will the officer use to determine “reasonable suspicion” that the white person in the vehicle is in the country illegally?
You can’t tell by just looking. Right? So there must be some other behavior that an officer must cue on in order to develop a reasonable suspicion. What would that be? Nervousness? Most people are nervous when they’re pulled over? Not in possession of driver’s license? Thousands of citizens are stopped every year and cited for driving without a license.
There is no way to determine citizenship status by just looking at someone. So the officer must ask. And, in order not to run afoul of the equal protection clause, police will have to ask everyone.
So now what if our white driver, who does not speak with a foreign accent, refuses to answer the question? What will the officer do? The law says an Arizona’s driver’s license or state-issued ID card suffice as proof of citizenship. But what if the driver doesn’t have a driver’s license in his or her possession?
Can you imagine any scenario in which the officer would develop a “reasonable suspicion” that the white driver is in the country illegally? I can’t (if this was Vermont, I could).
Now change the white driver to a Hispanic driver. Is refusing to answer the question “reasonable suspicion?” Or is failure to have a driver’s license?
In a state with several hundred thousand illegal immigrants entering it every year, and several hundred thousand more living here, a reasonable person would have to argue that it is “reasonable suspicion.” But it’s reasonable suspicion based on race and that’s just not Constitutionally viable.
If the officer arrests the unlicensed Hispanic driver based on that failure to answer the citizenship question and being unlicensed (which is a civil offense that doesn’t require arrest as long as the person signs a promise to appear) under this law the city, county or state could conceivably hold that person until citizenship or legal immigrant status is proved. That flies in the face of presumption of innocence.
I can’t see how this portion of the law can possibly be equitably enforced. As I’ve stated, it has enormous 4th, 5th and 14th Amendment problems, as well as a near repudiation of presumption of innocence, which has been part of English and American common law for at least 200 years.
The only way to make it equitable is to ask everyone their citizenship status. But citizens are under no obligation to tell the police anything or to carry any proof of their citizenship.
The police can be sued if they fail to enforce the law but if they start rounding up citizens who refuse to provide proof of their citizenship, they’ll get sued for that too (though the law protects officers who wrongly arrest citizens or those in the country legally).
And then for some of us, this move has horrific resonances to it.
What can we do?
• Post about it. Talk about it. Tweet about it, yes. All these things. Keep this alive in the dialogue. This move is WAY too big to let it be subsumed into the everchurning news trash compost heap. Yes, it is part of the small but powerful and noisy faction of the populace that shrieks against change, fears a black president, fears a brown nation, changes textbooks to reflect right wing fantasy, elevates scumbags like rush limbaugh and glenn beck. But the uproar is massive—and plenty of it from white folks—because they understand that this is, ahem, beyond the pale. This law will creep like infection and twist the nation into a very chaotic, destructive, and divided state.
I know there are other actions planned and things to do, groups to join, numbers to call. I don’t have anymore time today to hunt those down. But please do add your thoughts and info in the comments. And hang tuff, gente. Good will prevail. But it will be stank and bloody in the meantime, for the hard climb. That’s just life.