What's all below doesn't directly reflect the above title, but it came to mind as I composed this.
"They don't want Us here."
The phrase comes up whenever racists, xenophobes, English-onlys and Limbaughers rear their little minds to fill the Internet, town halls or periodicals with opinions inevitably blaming immigrants (legal or otherwise), Spanish-speakers or just plain old U.S.-born, English speaking Chicanos for a laundry list of economic, social or educational failings in this country. On the surface, yes, it sounds, looks and smells like "They don't want Us."
I don't buy the argument, nor the victim-mentality it encourages, because it's a simple reaction to an immediate, specific situation, and no matter how accurate it may be, it fails to include the larger, more complex picture.
They problem lies in the signification They. Without proposing a new conspiracy theory or resurrecting a new one, we tend to throw They around to refer to distinct groups, when we might be better off always thinking of it as the distinct whole--U.S. society, meaning to include the predominant (and some fringe) groups, segments of the population, agencies, governmental bodies, body of law, philosophy and discourse.
When we include all that as They, I'd argue They do want Us here. Someone has to maintain the U.S. hotel toilets, motel bedrooms, Calif. gardens, housing developments and restaurant kitchens at a low enough wage and without drawing down on their tax contributions or good-old-Americans will go without. The food won't get harvested and delivered to those restaurant tables without Us. Manipulating the politics and repressing the economies of Latin America has kept that flow of all types of labor immigrants at an economically profitable level for most of our history.
And after we're here, They still want Us here. The racist, anti-immigrant rhetoric should be interpreted to mean, They want Us here as less-educated scapegoats, the kind that will suffer inhuman abuse in all the verbal, physical and psychological ways that America is so adept at devising. Our norms here are that it's okay to cut off funds to immigrant children, accuse their parents of being members of an ignorant race (sic), while at the same time employing Us at substandard wages without benefits, and even recruiting Us to fight the Iraq-Afghan-Pakistan War.
Homeland Security should erect a monstrous billboard on the border, facing northward, stating:
"Don't leave us. We need your labor and sweat and without you we might realize we're all fokked because we'd have to find new scapegoats and there are enough Muslims around to take all the abuse."
So, the next time your Chicano or mexicano friend says, "They don't want Us here," please try to educate them.
For a good exposure and a set of some real moronic responses, go to "Most Oregon schools slow to get English learners proficient" to see how the Oregon government thinks "punishing" school districts for under serving English language learners can be best implemented by providing even less money for that.
To read about a state notorious for never having understood how to educate Us (Chicano and mexicano kids), and where for years teachers have fought against the myopic standards-based CSAP exam, go to Colorado's new educational standards stress strategic thinking. Dumping the old one doesn't mean a new one will be any better, but the state has at least added the concept of "thinking" to its dialogue. Would they'd extend the concept to Us where education is involved.
Go here for a review/interview of La Bloga's contributor Lydia Gil and her book Mimi's Parranda that's posted on the website Spanglish Baby. It has everything to do with what They should see in Us.
And BTW, you only have today and tomorrow to win a copy of that book!
Almost lastly, Go to the Jim Lopez/Ty Gorton's Antique Children website to read a stranger adult story featuring a kid, written by yours truly. It's not so much about a non-Anglo kid as much as it's about myopic attitudes toward children.
(Click on the menu bar Subjects and scroll down to Fiction.)
A Grain of Sand is the second one.
Leave comments here to let me know your review of that one.
In the spirit of the coming year's-end, and my unsubstantiated ranting above, and your determination to make the new year different, I invite guest posts on that topic. Leave a comment below if you have something to submit.