Saturday, January 8, 2011

Arizona and the Anti-Latino Sentiment

Bliss and the Color Pink
Adriana Bliss

I have rarely used this blog to share political opinion because I'm not very good at it. I tend to jump with knee-jerk emotions first, common sense second, and deep liberal bias third. Maybe not in that order. Despite that disclaimer, here I am, sharing political opinion.

Arizona's recent laws give local police the power and authority to chase down illegal immigrants, as well as school districts to ban ethnic studies classes and oust teachers with accents. These laws have really gotten under my skin because they nicely legalize Latinos as the scapegoats for our country's problems. My Facebook profile is full of links to these articles alongside my bitching. I'm doing it knowing I've got a slew of conservatives as FB friends. I am desperate, I find, to change their minds even though I know it will not work. They are dug in, their feet stuck in the mud of "patriotism." And when I look closely, I cannot help but notice that the conservative FB friends are mostly white. If they're not white, they are Latino family of mine who grew up in Orange County (pretty much...white) and pretend they are not Latino except when it is convenient.

My mother raised me in a pro-farm-worker environment. She never let me or my siblings forget who picked the food on our table, the lettuce, the spinach, the strawberries, the green beans. She also reminded us that the workers for the most part were not documented and treated very poorly. For years, long past the time of the great Gallo-wine boycott, she would not drink Gallo wine. Even today when I see the name of Gallo, I pull back my hand, opting for something else. My great-grandmother worked the migrant farm-worker routes alongside her last husband on her way towards citizenship. She landed in the San Fernando valley, raising her family to adulthood and then dying surrounded by many generations of Mexican blood firmly rooted now as American citizens.

Today when I read and hear the vitriol towards "illegal immigrants," code for Mexican, and I see the person speaking or see a shot of the writer in his or her byline, I cannot help but see they are not Latino. They cannot connect to these people who have broken their backs for the comfort of these same complaining citizens. It is very frustrating to me. "They" do not know. Now, I am well aware that there are Latinos that support Arizona's efforts, and whites that are against Arizona's efforts. Of course.

But still, I hear the anger, I hear the hate, I hear the denial of responsibility. I think "they" do not know. They simply lift their fork full of hand-picked food to their mouths, scraping their forks against the plates and drinking their local wine made from hand-tended grapes in their little cozy dining room after a day in the office or the store or plumbing someone's house. From that comfort they rail against those people who are invading their country and taking their benefits. It is strange to me the profound disconnect. The denial of their OWN histories. The denial that it is their demand for cheaper products and more interest on their pension plans that corporations will hire the cheapest labor possible who can only be...undocumented workers who will not complain about the wages and the conditions.

Enough railing.

The year is ending for us. I have grading to do, as always. I am looking forward to summer vacation, mere days away. I look forward to lazy times by the pool, a writer's conference in Jackson Hole, catching up on an online teaching certificate, prepping for the fall, contemplating yet some more a law review article. I will not rail about the circumstances of J. That is reserved for another post.

Much on my plate.

Is that a Santa Ana breeze on the horizon? It is too bad that it is not enlightenment; no, just hot air.

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