Thursday, March 30, 2006

A legacy of huddled masses...

A bitch is back!

Clearly my ass needed a a bitch is feeling fired up and full of bitchitude.

Let’s jump right on in…

A bitch is sending positivitude and sincere wishes for a full recovery to Charlie Rose, who recently had heart surgery in Paris!

A note with more to follow...
A bitch was horrified to learn of the recent events at Duke. What the fuck? The allegations of rape, harassment and a climate tolerant of overt racism are beyond serious. Ancrene Wiseass (and several other bloggers) has posted on this. This bitch will keep on top of this shit and hopes that y’all will too.

A legacy of huddled masses…
A bitch has been following the recent news and political posturing on immigration here in the United States. America is often thought of as an immigrant nation, but this bitch has always bristled at that. We are too quick to overlook the fact that many Americans do not have an immigration legacy…and that too many Americans have a legacy that is bruised and battered.

A bitch’s family did not ‘immigrate’ to America. My people were kidnapped, enslaved and taken against their will to America as property. When a bitch was a wee bitch, my ass listened to the tales of immigrants and boats…of high hopes and dreams…as if it were foreign history. The history of immigration is not my history and immigration battles bring that reality into sharp relief.

When in college, a bitch roomed with a woman who is Hopi. We bonded on the lack of an immigrant history…and over the fact that America likes to sex up it’s immigrant past rather than explore the harsh reality of how immigrants have always been treated in this country. We shared the view from the outside, the fascination with tales of immigration, Ellis Island and the American Dream.

Yet this lack of an immigrant legacy does afford a bitch the benefit of an outsider perspective.

So, here we are debating immigration again. This bitch rejects the notion that anyone working in America should do so without protection and rights. A living wage and legal recourse for abuse are basic rights and we all suffer when they are tossed out the window.

America was built on the backs of exploited labor. The strong economy of the pre-Civil War South was born from slavery and the fact that wages didn’t factor in to that capitalist model. Our railroads, our farms, our docks and ports have long been served by the undocumented and the unprotected. And America learned those lessons well and has greedily exploited the undocumented for cheap labor and monetary gain.

So, when lawmakers take the stage and pretend to defend the rights of the over 12 million undocumented workers in America...when those same lawmakers then indulge in a pontification session about the role those workers play in our economy...well, a bitch hears something all too familiar. My ass hears that same tired ass song…that our economy needs an easily exploited workforce, that American thrives with an unprotected and underpaid labor class and that Americans are willing to turn a blind eye to human exploitation as long as it is dressed up in the trendy gear of the great American immigrant legacy with some ethnocentric charity tossed in for flavor.

And don’t get me wrong…a bitch isn’t indicting the multitudes who seek a better life, who risk their lives for work and wages…who aspire to that great American Dream that has been so brilliantly branded throughout the years. No, this bitch condemns the master, his adoration of the whip and it's profits and the collective willingness to view this modern day shit as something different, better or evolved.

César Chávez marched on behalf of the migrant worker and every worker in America…fighting for the rights of those who toil in our fields and put food on our overflowing tables. Lately, it seems that message has been watered down and the rally cry of decent wages, legal protection and dignity can barely be heard. What remains is the desperate call of the poor and the predictable reply of the privileged…

“Let me in! Give me hope!”

“Oh yes, we’ll let you in…sort of. Just come around to the back door and sign up for the company store first.”

So, hats off to those who took to the streets.

We have a lot of fucking work to do.

Because 'getting in’ and ‘being allowed to stay’ can never be the final goal.

Workers deserve more than the 'right' to serve our needs.

And the sad reality is that the masses remain huddled long after they cross the border...regardless of how they crossed it or how legal that crossing was.


allie said...

not only am i angry over the duke thing i'm also embarassed because i live in durham.

Ancrene Wiseass said...

Thanks for the link, ABB. The whole thing is truly horrifying. Please God, this will at least cause some folks in the Duke administration to do a little soul-searching, followed up with some serious policy revision. And blessings and wishes for healing upon the woman who was brave enough to call those bastards out. Lord help her.

Thanks also for a really fascinating perspective on immigration. I honestly had never thought about it from that angle before, and that gives me much to consider.

Lady K said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

I was reading a message board on AOL where someone had to nerve to say this country was built by immigrants.
My thought was "They didn't do it alone!!!"

I wish more people would read your blog!!

A lot of people in this nation don't want to look at the ugly truth of things.

Again, Thank You!!

jakejacobsen said...

Very well said!

Thanks for sharing.


GayProf said...

GayProf's a fan of César Chávez and his nifty union ways. For most of his career, though, he was a not a friend of immigrant labor. He only wanted to organize migrant laborers who also happened to be U.S. citizens. Alas, even the "good guys" have bad karma some times.

Anonymous said...

I just thought it was important to add that the kids from Duke have not been found guilty yet in a court of law. While I am sure that something happened, we have already crucified these kids.

nostradumass said...

y'know, i consider myself intelligent and aware, but you keep me on my toes, ABB. it really floors me how much of the picture i miss by being part of the dominant culture (i.e., straight, white, male, etc.). as a self-proclaimed liberal, i try to be sensitive to other perspectives, but there's something lacking... from the 'kong' post to this one, you keep reminding me that even i can do to have more empathy.


Shark-fu said...

Anonymous...thanks for the reminder, but a bitch has to correct you a wee bit.

Not guilty...true, at the moment.

Kids...not true, as of their acceptance at Duke.

Men and women, who are attending college and have taken on the financial and social responsibilities associated with their education do not get to hide behind the code language of boys and kids.

They are adults. And trust that they shall be judged as such.

Thanks for sharing

Daniela said...

When I saw you wrote about immigration, I got tense. I have such respect for your opinion, and if you ended up saying what I hear so often (something along the lines of "screw 'em") I was going to be crushed. I love how you took the discussion to a new place.

Btw, let me add a line. I'm an American by choice. I love this country. I'm also very outspoken when it comes to what I think it right and wrong, and I'm TIRED of the fact that I'm an immigrant getting thrown in my face. I'm tired of hearing "if you don't like it, leave". I think I have the same rights as every other american citizen.

Anonymous said...

I am also an American by choice, my family immigrated here (mostly) legally in 1983 from Iran and I became a citizen in 1995. And I just wanted to add my pet peeve.

When discussing immigrants, legal and illegal, people often talk about immigrants stealing American's jobs. I would just like call BS on that one. Immigrants create jobs all the time by opening businesses. Where are the statistics on jobs created by immigrants? Let's talk about all the American's who are employed by immigrants or naturalized cititzens. Can anyone find any numbers on those?

We should consider the possibility that giving people equal rights and equal protection under the law allows them to add to our communities both economically and intellectually in ways that no oppressed group can.

And lets kindly be realistic about legal immigration, its an expensive and often decades long process. There is nothing "easy" about getting into the States or becoming a citizen.

Thanks for another great post ABB.


L. said...

I understand your point about exploited labor, but there`s exploitation and there`s exploitation.

One of my great-grandfathers came to America illegally from Europe, stowing away on an ocean liner. He and my legal immigrant ancestors worked in coal mines, stockyards, and factories, for shitty wages and no benefits....but they had a choice. Sometimes they were trapped temporarily by circumstances, but if they were unhappy with their lot, they went elsewhere, sooner or later.

Your ancestors, however, were exploited in the worst sense of the word. You can`t compare their experiences to my ancestors` experiences -- and I would say that even the lowest-paid field worker or restaurant dishwasher today enjoys more options and a quality of life that just doesn`t compare.

(I have an "outsider`s perspective," too, because I`m an immigrant myself to a country that doesn`t welcome outsiders -- Japan.)

Uncivil said...

The Illegal Immigrants are exploiting our system to their benifit. Our Whole Customs and Immigration system is just one big "Clusterfuck".

I like to sing that to the tune of the Mickey Mouse theme song!!!

Instead of
M i c.....k e y........m o u s e

C l u.....s t e........r f u c k