I’ve been thinking a lot about how we commune as a species; specifically, if your consider the ethnic variables. We’re different: red, yellow, black, white, brown…plaid.
This fascinates me. We’re all very different, yet we’re incredibly alike. This difference-slash-similarity is one of the great conundrums of life.
Even so, we are a “bandwagon jumping” bunch. We like to feel as though we’re part of the whole. We’ll agree when we really don’t and say what we don’t mean because we too scared to take a rock the boat, aptly christened, the U.S.S Status Quo. We take that one step further by glomming on to silly catch phrases—the pride of an anonymous advertising brain trust on the 23rd floor of some Madison Avenue high-rise.
We asked “Where’s the Beef?”.
We demanded that our breakfast partners “Leggo of My Eggo” and God help me, even I, Laurie Kendrick, thought it just “Wasn’t Nice To Fool Mother Nature”. But I was 11 at the time. I get a pass.
But those little expressions make us feel that we’re cool; that we’re part of the whole. We like to feel as though we belong. This “need” also affects the stance we choose to take when it comes to issues. More often than not, that involves following someone else’s lead. We allow ourselves to be fed someone else’s opinions. Here in Texas, the hot button issue is illegal immigration.
Regular readers of this blog are well aware of the fact that I was born and raised in a small town about 5o miles southeast of San Antonio. There were always “illegals aliens” (Oh, let’s be completely honest here, shall we? We used to call Mexican nationals “wetbacks” because they entered this country illegally by swimming or wading across the Rio Grande river which runs the entire border between Texas and Mexico. Politically incorrect? You betcha, but that was the reality. Still is in the private, I’m sure) who came through Karnes City, following the big power lines that would lead them to “la tierra de prometida– San Antonio.
They were usually men, spoke no English, poor as church mice and almost always tired and hungry. They traveled mile after mile by foot and never by roads or highways. Every step they took, every move made had to be covert; in the shadows, away from the watchful eyes of Border Patrol agents…”La Migra”. This could only be accomplished in the brush which I assure you, made for a most inhospitable environment. The unbearable heat, snakes, scorpions–no food or fresh water anywhere. There were also the dangers of gun toting land owners who felt it was their God given right to shoot trespassers. Tragic, huh? For those on the the difficult journey into the U.S., reaching a town was pivotal to survival. Once they arrived, they were like ghosts. You only saw them if they wanted to be seen and considering the risks, that rarely happened.
They’d quietly do odd jobs here and there for a little pocket change–grab a meal anywhere they could, then exit the city as quietly as they entered it.They meant no harm; they just wanted to come here to work and send the money back home. Innocent enough, they caused no trouble. To do so would be counter-productive. If they were arrested, they’d be forcibly returned to their homeland.
Now, let’s talk about that for a second: we have to ask ourselves, how bad was their situation in Mexico that they’d be willing to get bitten, shot, stung, stabbed, dehydrated and starve to death, just to get one foot in this country and live their version of “El Sueno de Americano”??? It takes incredible courage, stamina and grit. I appreciate this effort and I can respect their desire to be here at all costs.
But that was then; this is now.
In the present climate, they’re no longer spooks. These days, that quiet, obscured existence of living life on the lam is a thing of the past. There are some illegals who rob, steal, rape and murder and if they’re caught by authorities and incarcerated here, we get stuck with the bill. They get three squares, free housing (as it were) and a visit from some liberal pro-bono ACLU lawyer. Others obey the law as best they can–save for the fact that they’re breaking it by being in this country–and if they get caught, the U.S. Border Patrol sends them back to Mexico, but that’s no longer a deterrent. They’ll just come back.
And why not? Illegal aliens come here and are afforded incredible rights and dare I say comforts, even. This bothers me. How they got here and that they stay here under the Homeland Security radar is illegal. No two ways about it. They’re here illegally and should not be privy to the same goods and services afforded American citizens. Sorry, but on this subject I WILL NOT negotiate.
I’m not alone in the way and I feel and I can assure you, it has nothing to do with their skin color and that they might be of Mestizo blood (traditionally, a dark eyed, dark skinned mix of Spanish and Indigenous ethnicity). I’d be just as angry over a Hitler Youth looking Canadian who was here illegally. It’s not about race, it’s about nationality. That’s not to say those lines don’t get blurred, because they do and usually it’s a big agenda-manufactured spoon stirring the pot.
I think it’s very amusing when people say they possess no prejudices. Everyone has prejudices. If you like Coke over Pepsi, that’s a bias. If you prefer brunettes to blonds, crunchy peanut butter over smooth or if you like Letterman more than Leno, you have prejudices. Now, keep your panties on–I know that’s a far cry from racial prejudice, but still a prejudice nonetheless. .I have friends and family members who are bleeding heart liberals who still believe in love and peace signs. They hate the war in Iraq (everyone does) and it’s their most fervent wish that this country; hell, even the big blue marble on which we live, can co-exist just like the varied flavors of Neapolitan ice cream.
I’ll be riding with one of these friends in their car and we’ll approach an intersection where two young Black guys wearing sports jerseys are just standing around…innocent enough, I suppose. .If these guys are out there the next time I drive by, I’m going to stop, get out of my car and ask them how often they hear “it”. Now, “it” is that familiar tune I call the “The Intersection Song”. Not music per se, but a series of clicks; the sounds made from car doors being locked electronically–always cued by unwitting, dark skinned conductors. Usually male. My liberal friends–who don’t possess a prejudice bone in their bodies, mind you–are usually the first to start the chorus. I can’t condemn; hell, I’ve done it myself.
Five miles later, in a “better neighborhood”, two young white men in suits and brandishing briefcases, stand on a similar corner. You don’t hear doors being locked, on the contrary. At this intersection, my friends open their windows. Some have even used the time to drop the top on their convertibles. Again, I’m guilty of this myself. .So, I’ve admitted my sins, now someone please explain why I and so many others commit it over and over again? Is this response preconditioned? Are my friends and I just being cautious in a dangerous, crime ridden society or in a neighborhood that’s not exactly safe? Or are we just plain old David–git down–Duke prejudiced?
But these days, I’m scared of just about any situation in which I’m outnumbered. The skin color of the culprit doesn’t make a difference. However, gender does. I’ve locked my car doors as I approach young white guys, too.
Hey, the sad reality here is that it’s ubiquitous. Prejudice and bias are everywhere. I’m sure we’d even see a completely different side of Saint Hillary Clinton if Chelsea brought home Flava Flave and called him her fiance. ,We’re hip, free thinkers, at least, that’s the illusion we want portrayed and continue to convince ourselves that we are UNTIL something happens to us personally—such as the possibility of Flava Flave becoming an in-law. Otherwise, we make sure we cover up our prejudices out of fear and because of appearances. That old practice vs. what we preach thing.
We hate on the down low.
Butt he reality is, young disadvantaged black males do commit crimes. So do wealthy white teens. So do Hispanic gang members. The list is long. Crime knows no ethnic boundaries. If we’re scared of young hoodlums, we are correct in being fearful. We are wrong however, to assume then that EVERY young sports jersey wearing male is a criminal. But then again, many are.
As I see it, our only option, is to teach the next generation to be more accepting of others. But only who we deem worthy of tolerating, right? I mean, is that how that works? And then, that convenient race makes for a lovely ace in the hole. Calling someone a racist, just because it fits an agenda. As stated earlier, nothing stirs a shit pot faster than the race spoon. And nothing creates a race spoon faster than given the manufacturer the materials. Sometimes, the shoe DOES fit.
So, what do we do?
I don’t know. I really don’t, but what I DO know is that this stream of consciousness rant is all over the place…from Madison Avenue advertising catch phrases to illegal immigration to prejudice.
Mirar, mi gente: no tengo un solucion. I don’t have an answer. Prejudice is bigger than me; certainly bigger then all of us, but it is manageable—perhaps, maybe. I think we can get a handle on it and I’m not just talking about Whitey, either. Our Black brethren have a lot of room for improvement in this arena. So do Hispanics, Asians, Arabs, Jews, Inuits, Serbs….everyone.
Maybe, I think we have to celebrate all we have in common; but we also have to acknowledge our differences. Even if we have to do that in jest. At least, that would be a start. But beyond that? Beyond jokes and the humor that hath the power to bind? Beyond that, how do we start this extremely idealistic yet process?
How in God’s name do we stop worrying about ridiculously, silly appearances?
I don’t know the answer to that one either, but right now, this unprejudiced woman-child is going to Baskin-Robbins to get some ice cream. That ex-Hippie, ice cream metaphor I used earlier, left me with an incredible jones for some Neapolitan— but without the strawberry. I don’t like strawberry. .I know I could just get separate scoops of chocolate and vanilla instead, but I couldn’t do that!!! No way!!
How would that look to the other flavors????