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(en) US, Oakland, The Dawn* #2, Aug. 2004, Honkie America Redux: The Plight of the Latino Immigrant by Prolecat

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Wed, 4 Aug 2004 09:16:07 +0200 (CEST)

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It is no longer fashionable to be openly racist in the
American middle class. Blatant racist snobbery is still
acceptable across the linen table cloths of the rich,
and it is all too common in the shops and on the factory
floors where the working class performs its labors. But the
middle class, we are led to believe, has risen above all
that. People of African ancestry are now called "black" or
"African American" and it is forbidden by law to discriminate
in any transaction on the basis of color. Yes, all has been
set right in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

It's all a bunch of goddamn lies.Warming to the subject
of their newfound color-blind good-heartedness, the khaki
clad enforcers for the rich, the middle class“ the
supervisors, police sergeants, and personnel managers“
will even go so far as to evoke the civil rights struggles
of the 60's. "If I had been around/grownup back then, I
would have been on black's side. But times have changed,
you know, and its time to move on." Or perhaps, "Now
I'll admit I was slow coming around back then, but you
know, if anything like that ever happened again, I would
be dead-on against˜racism' (read: discrimination and
using hateful racist epithets)."

There are problems with this little formulation of life in
America, and I am not referring just to its revisionist
history. The bigger problem lies in its depiction of the
present: it's all a bunch of goddamn lies. The modern
American middle class is every bit as racist as that
which the Black Panthers bravely struggled against. Honkie
America lives on.

Now, I could illustrate this point by showing how wholly
inadequate the quick fixes of swearing off epithets and
outlawing discrimination, really are. I could show that
laws against discrimination hardly end discrimination, to
begin with. And I could further show that discrimination in
employment and real estate is only the tip of the iceberg,
the most visible symptoms of an economic subjugation that
is systemic, economic in nature, and hardly responsive to
the decrees of legislatures.

But this is old news. That the "civil rights movement of
the 60's" has been sold out by politicians both black
and white, a noble history of struggle reduced to a cheap
reformist dogma embodied by support for candidates of the
Democratic Party. This is not news. This is an important
story, but it is a half century old, and beginning to
smell in keeping with its age.

The story of the hour is the Latinos. The political
hot-button issue of the day is "immigration reform."
"Everyone" agrees that immigration reform is in
order. That is to say, "everyone" as represented by the
white American middle class, the demographic that dominates
American political conversations, and in so doing shows
that it is as racist as it ever was. For what is the fret
and worry sweeping the nation over "immigration," but
the latest clothing, the politically correct manifestation,
the new facade of our old enemy, the racist-pig bourgeois
white American middle class?

It was racism then, and it is racism now.Don't be fooled
when you hear someone say that they are just concerned
about "American jobs." The American labor unions, the
Nativists and Free Soilers of the north were just concerned
about jobs for "real Americans" when they turned their
backs on their (black) fellow workers in the south during
Reconstruction. It was racism then, and it is racism now.

Don't be fooled when someone says that they don't
have anything against the immigrants, they just think
that losing control of our borders undermines respect for
the rule of law. "I don't mind the Mexicans, I just
think they should have to obey the rules like us citizens
do." The southern American slave owners of the nineteenth
century hid their brutal crimes against humanity behind
legalistic arguments over property rights. At one time,
protection for the institution of slavery was enshrined
in the law of the land, the Constitution. It was racist
bigotry then, and it is racist bigotry now.

Perhaps the reader will find my comparison of the
immigrants of today, with the African chattel slaves of the
past to be over-the-top. Perhaps it seems to be just a bit
overstated, a bit much. Consider, then, the recent case of
Blake Pendergrass and Francisco Heredia, organizers for the
Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) in that union's
efforts to win representation for the cucumber pickers in
the fields of eastern North Carolina. These two men were
arrested and charged with trespassing for visiting some
farm workers in their (company owned) housing.

Now, the courts in North Carolina have already ruled that
farm workers in company housing have a tenant relationship
with their employer. So it is reasonable to expect that
the charges will be thrown out, although it is just as
reasonable to assume that no retribution will be doled out
to the arrogant bosses who filed the charges, or their
stooges in the Nash County sheriff's department who
acted on their (illegal) requests. Nor may we expect to
see Blake and Francisco receive any reparations for the
treatment they received.

For our purposes, though, what is more important than
the legal disposition of this case, is the mindset of
the bosses that it reveals. They think they own these
people. Nothing else explains it. No "free" worker
in America, no wage worker“ for all the wrongs and
injustices and exploitation that is rained down upon
his head“ would expect for a minute to receive such
treatment, to have guests arrested for trespassing because
they were visiting his living quarters at his invitation,
but the boss did not want them to.

And no, this did not take place on "company time,"
those hours of the day when it is accepted that the boss
owns the worker. Blake and Francisco were arrested for
visiting the workers during their precious few hours of
after-work leisure. White American citizens belong to the
boss, heart and soul, while they are on the clock, but they
at least get to stumble home and narcotize themselves with
television in relative isolation from their boss. Not so
for the Latino immigrant, whose boss obviously considers
himself master of his every waking moment.

No, to compare the plight of today's Latino immigrant
worker to that of the African slave, or at least to that of
blacks in the Jim Crow South at the mercy of the notorious
and racist "black codes" is no stretch.

American racism is alive and well. The reports of its
death have been premature.
* [Ed. Note: The Dawn is an Anarcho-Communist journal]

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