lunes, 13 de marzo de 2017

Standing in Solidarity (with a little luck)

I pass this two to four times a day.

Every day, I wonder how long my luck is going to hold out.  When is that pole going to slide under my car, flipping it over while spewing live electrical wires all over the street?

It´s been a month now.  So far, so good.

It´s March, which brings to mind St. Patrick´s Day and, consequently the luck of the Irish.  Now, to the best of my knowledge, none of my ancestors were Irish, but today I´m sure looking like I´m pretending I were.

Despite the red hair and ND outfit,
I´ve got NO Irish genes.  
But isn´t that more or less the point of a modern celebration of St. Patrick´s Day?  It´s a day where we all just pretend to be Irish.  I´m not sure how the Irish feel about that, but that´s how we do things in the US.  That, and it´s a good excuse to drink a Guinness.

Very similarly, Cinco de Mayo has turned into a popular celebration in the US.  In the US, people use the 5th of May to celebrate Mexican heritage--and that´s great.  Or, it´s just a good excuse to have some Coronas or a margarita.  But, like St. Patrick´s Day, it appears to be a day that we can all just pretend to be "Mexican" for a day.  Whatever that means.

I do get on my yearly soapbox, explaining that Cinco de Mayo isn´t widely celebrated in Mexico.  However the events of Cinco de Mayo had longer-lasting consequences for the US and, if we knew about them, it would then make perfect sense that we celebrate Cinco de Mayo more in the US than Mexico.  I´ve got more information on that topic here.

But I´m not exactly pushing that soapbox today.  This comparison between how St. Patrick´s Day and Cinco de Mayo are celebrated in the US is striking me pretty hard, particularly this year.  Around 150 years ago, when Irish people were immigrating to the US by the boatload, they were often discriminated against.  They had doors closed in their faces and were openly excluded from jobs, places to live, etc.

While anti-Mexican sentiment has been simmering under the surface of US culture for awhile now, it appears to be coming to a head with the current administration.  What am I proposing here?  I´m suggesting that yes, let´s celebrate Cinco de Mayo this year.  Let´s do it the same way we do St. Patrick´s Day, where everyone pretends to be Irish for a day.  This Cinco de Mayo, let´s all be Mexican for a day.

That doesn´t mean that we all go around wearing sombreros and drinking tequila.  What I´m proposing is that we stand in solidarity with those Mexicans (and other latinos) who live in the US.  We appreciate them for their contributions to our country.  (If you´re not sure what that would be, I´ve got a glaring example here, for those readers who skipped over that link earlier.)

Why do I claim that Mexicans (and other latinos) are being discriminated against?

Trump´s presidential campaign sounded pretty clear to me.  His remarks about Mexico have angered an entire nation.  It´s becoming routine, upon meeting new people here, one of the first questions we´re asked is, "do you like Trump?"  I shudder to think how they´d respond to someone who says they do.  And this new Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement office that trump wants to start sounds benign on the surface.  However, it hints at something larger.  My fear is that it will legitimize discrimination against latinos in the US.

But if that´s not evidence enough, consider:

  • We have a system of for-profit detention centers where people are held for months, sometimes years, waiting for their immigration case to be process, often to ultimately be deported. 
  • These for-profit detention centers require a MINIMUM number of people to be incarcerated in these centers.  Am I crazy, or should detention centers be run by the government (or at the very least, be non-profit).  Because who is making profits for these detention centers?  Right, the taxpayers.  And probably the people held in these detention centers.  
  • Those held in these detention centers, not being US citizens, have no legal rights.  They have no right to representation like citizens or legal residents do.  This in another reason why they can be held for years, because in many cases no one is pushing to get cases heard, and the government has no plans to give these people due process--they just plan on deportation.  After they´ve met the detention centers´ minimum quotas, of course.        
  • Entire families are locked up in these detention centers.  We´re incarcerating children.  This is not the kind of thing that makes me proud to be an American.  (Precisely the opposite.)

This Cinco de Mayo, let´s stand in solidarity with the Mexican and latino families down the street.  

That doesn´t mean eating a taco bowl.  Mexicans don´t actually eat those.  

That means contacting your representatives and senators, and speaking up for those neighbors who legally don´t have a voice in this country.  Whatever our stance on immigration, I think we can all agree that people should be treated humanely.  

Locking up non-violent offenders indefinitely is not humane.  Our country can do better.  

This Cinco de Mayo, let´s all be Mexican for a Day.


Need more reading about Detention Centers?

Check out:

  • the ACLU
  • Bring Pedro Home (through a facebook group, I became aware of this family.  At the time, the husband was detained (indefinitely, of course).  In the end, he was held for 19 months.  When his case finally went to trial, his US citizen wife was preparing to move to Guatemala, because it was very likely he was going to be deported anyway.  Fortunately, he was ultimately granted permanent residency, and (as he was before his detention) he has been contributing positively to his community ever since. 

2 comentarios :

Anónimo dijo...

I hope that one day, people take pride in their Mexican heritage as the Irish do these days. Viva!

Jill dijo...

Too true. Thank goodness plenty of people do. But I´m reflecting on my year in New Mexico--I´m sure it´s harder to be Mexican (or of Mexican heritage) outside of the southwest. (And I´m not saying it´s always a piece of cake in the SW, either!)

That´s why we all need to stand together.