Friday, February 09, 2018

Latinx Erasure, Censure, and Buffoonery--Day 1

I have not written a blog in over a year because I didn't want to add carelessly to the back and forth between racist rhetoric and resistance against it. I wanted to make sure that when I contributed, it would be to say something significant, something that made sense to me. I didn't want to just shout the same anger that echoed the anger of so many others. I wanted to have something fresh to say, or at least something that I could live with, something that, for me, wouldn't get lost in the static.

After hearing about our current State of the Union and subsequent language about the statements made in it, where immigrants were again equated with violent behavior, and after thinking a lot about what has been happening around me, I finally have something to say. There is a clear movement to erase Latinx existence in the United States, by way of destroying families by separating them (see DACA termination and other hostile immigrant policies), by way of destroying education in Latinx communities (see privatization of public schools and school closures in Latinx neighborhoods and Puerto Rico), by destroying any possibility of job security for Latinx workers and professionals (see tenure process in academia and migrant worker rights), by destroying our history and our literature (see Arizona book banning and multicultural studies banning), by silencing our voices in spaces where liberal conversation is supposedly accepted (see the Democratic Party and activist groups that claim to be radical but aren't), by erasing our full and diverse presence from the majority of forums in the media (see films, books, magazines, news programs, Spanish-language television that has no Afro-Latinx or queer presence), by including us in major media forums only as buffoons who exemplify stupidity and/or violence, by having non-Latinx actors play us or non-Latinx writers and directors write stories they think are about us (see Saturday Night Live and Stephen Spielberg), by impeding access to healthcare and safe housing, by pretending to sympathize with our plight only to continue the same practices that ignore the heritage and labor that we cultivated in the Americas (the full Americas, meaning both North, South, and Central America, and the Caribbean), a heritage and labor that has literally made Europe and its descendants rich, and fed the world and kept it dynamic and interesting with a culture of intellectual depth and spiritual magnificence (see the works of Junot Diaz, Carmen Tafolla, Julia de Burgos, and Arturo Schomburg, just to name a very few). 

We are not and have never been immigrants. 

This map shows that the Spanish, who in combination with our indigenous ancestors and African ancestors, created who we are. We were here in the full Americas before the United States was created and back then it was common to move all around the Americas. Our movement today echoes our original travels back then. And, yet, some of us never moved, having inhabited areas called California and Texas well before they were ever considered the United States.

When people call us immigrants, that is an attempt to erase our history and, in effect, erase us. All the behaviors I describe above have one purpose: to erase our existence and contribution to the Americas because the occupiers and their cohorts want to erase us. More space for them. But we are here. We've always been here and we always will be here, despite this multi-pronged attempt at genocide. Don't call it genocide? What else is it when you don't grant someone access to healthy housing or healthcare and know that will mean their death? What else is it when you destroy someone's chances for education or don't allow them to see characters who represent their existence (thus destroying self-esteem and self-actualization)? What is the ultimate result of that action?

Therefore, I will now post again because I literally have to point out the Latinx erasure, censure, and buffoonery so that people will become aware of this silent, yet obvious, attempt at both cultural and literal genocide, and maybe, just maybe, they will feel disgusting about their own part in it. This post explains the context. Future posts will be brief like what you see below. 

Today's erasure: 

DACA Dreamers were recently portrayed as both terrorists and stick-'em-up thugs in an urban environment, holding up two white people, in a political cartoon in The Albuquerque Journal. The New York Times has since reported that the Journal apologized for printing the cartoon, but considering nearly 50% of the population in New Mexico is Latinx, according to Pew Hispanic, the newspaper had to realize that at least one-half of its population would take issue with the cartoon; we are not even including disapproval from allies in the state and allies in the rest of the U.S., all of whom were outraged by the incident.

I classify this incident as an erasure because what the cartoon does not show, what it in fact obscures, is that DACA Dreamers are literally here to study. They are excellent students, and they can be deported if there is any incident of violence, so they, for the most part, are absolute model citizens. Those of us who are not under a contract like they are have the luxury of getting a parking ticket, or a speeding ticket, or goofing off on spring break, for example. DACA Dreamers study and work. I'm sure some of them may have actually indulged in behaving as a young college student might, but trust me, many of them are hardcore about their goals because that is the choice they made.

By Sean Delonas

Furthermore, the cartoon is poorly executed. If you take a look at it, seen above, you'll see one Dreamer is a suicide bomber and two others are holding up a couple. I mean, are these supposed Dreamers going to rob the couple and then blow everyone up? That isn't exactly logical, is it? Or, is the cartoon supposing that one of the Dreamers is a Middle Eastern terrorist who just happens to be hanging out with a gang member from M.S. 13, which is a gang that is based in locales like Los Angeles and El Salvador. Does the cartoonist think that all Dreamers hang out with each other and plan evil deeds together? A more realistic tableaux would be all three of them studying for a calculus exam. And, why is the landscape a New York landscape? Did the gang member from L.A. actually fly to New York in order to hold up people? If he's so poor that he has to hold up people, how did he fly to New York? So many plot holes, so ridiculous, so over the top, it could actually be classified as buffoonery, too. We can give it that I suppose, but it is the erasure that bothers me the most. I've worked with Dreamers, heard them give incredibly moving speeches, watched them make the lives of everyone around them better, so it's the erasure that we must highlight, because no one's hard work should ever be erased that way.