Posts Tagged ‘Race

02
Jan
12

The 12 Ways of Christmas: Santa at the mall

[Part 6]

It took a black Santa to introduce me to White Guilt.

My parents were savvy enough to tell me that the man in the red suit and the white beard at the mall was not really Santa but one of his helpers. I mean, you can’t expect him to be everywhere, right?

It was just a proxy. A Santa of convenience.

So, I was fine with the charade, playing along with the stand-in pretender to make my parents happy—and hoping desperately that somehow my Christmas list (compiled mainly from the Sears Wishlist catalog, complete with page numbers and item numbers,  and my subscription to Nintendo Power magazine) would find its way to the real Santa’s fulfillment department.

I never much liked sitting in Santa’s lap, but I also don’t remember ever crying like some kids did. It was just strange to sit in a stranger’s lap. To smell his breath. To pose for a stranger taking my picture. (Little did I realize at the time how similar this would be to experiences later in life at the DMV.)

Let the record show, I was never fooled by the dark eyebrows of some of those impostors. They were much younger men pretending to be old men. And they probably weren’t properly jolly, either. Continue reading ‘The 12 Ways of Christmas: Santa at the mall’

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09
Mar
08

Discouraging Discourse

Apparently Geraldo Rivera has written a book. His Panic: Why Americans Fear Hispanics in the U.S.

Let’s ignore the implied sexism of the title; it’s not the worst part.

“His panic.”

Get it? Get it?

He was on NPR the other day talking about it. The conversation shifted from his personal experience — my dad came over on a banana boat, no one calls me Gerry, my mustache is a part of my cultural identity, that kind of thing — to a more general discussion about U.S. immigration policy.

“The hostility by some anti-immigrant activists against Hispanics is no different from that directed against earlier generations of Irish, Italian and Jewish immigrants,” he said.

Many of the most fervent anti-immigrant activists are themselves the children or grandchildren of immigrants. The style changes, the accents change, the geographical antecedents change, but it’s the same. You can track headline for headline the response to the Irish wave of immigration in the mid-19th century to the reaction of the Minutemen and similar radical anti-immigration groups today.

I can track with him so far. I probably wouldn’t argue with much of what he says in the book. But he took a turn in the interview that really disappointed me.

The anchor asked him something like What would you say to the people who argue that their views about immigration are mostly colored by the legality of citizenship and border security?

Geraldo responded in a tone of confident superiority: “Are you really concerned about ‘border security,’ or are you concerned about the changing demographic face of the United States? For example, if it’s terrorism that you’re concerned about and you want this fence built between the United States and Mexico, why don’t you want the same fence built between the United States and Canada?”

For Geraldo to jump directly to the bugaboo of terrorism struck me as a total dodge, and it really bugged me. Especially considering that Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff himself has stated publicly that he’s more worried about the terrorist threat from the Canadian side than the Mexican side.

Besides that, given the context, I understood the question of “border security” to be more about illegal immigration than terrorism.

He continued: “It’s not crime. It’s not terror. It is demographics that is the true fear. If we wanted secure borders, what about the entire Atlantic and Pacific coasts?”

That’s fine. Xenophobia and the institutional bullying of immigrants is certainly a problem. But also, certainly, is the growing pool of undocumented workers in this country. His evasion of the illegal immigration question does his argument a disservice. This — not terrorism — is the entire reason his book is relevant, and I think Geraldo missed a golden opportunity to contribute something meaningful to the national discussion. But he passed it up in favor of an intellectually dishonest soapbox. Perhaps more disappointing is that the anchor did not press him to answer the question. Apparently, a strongly worded statement about terrorism gets you a free pass.

19
Jun
07

Little Miss Jocelyn




the untallied hours

the tweets

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