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Communicating Post Colonialism within Immigration Reform

This week, Congress is taking legal action against the now infamous Arizona law passed a few months ago. At the same time, a Washington Post poll reveals that most Americans actually support the new law in Arizona. Proponets ot the law assert that Arizona is doing nothing but enforcing what has already been on the books; moreover, they are protecting a border that has gone unchecked. While still others call the new law racist and part of an ongoing trail of racial profiling. What do we make of all this? How can this “debate” even be a debate? Are we not just protecting our borders and keeping Americans safe? Isn’t it in our best interest to keep those “bad people” out of the country? Well, these are all important issues—no doubt. However, there is a mask which covers the ugly countenance that most are unaware is happening. For example, in the 1980’s Danilo Blandon—known for his drug trading and arms dealing—was given full citizenship in the U.S. by the C.I.A. in return for trading guns for crack cocaine in our inner cities.[1] That is just one of many examples where this perceived “protection” has failed us as Americans. In addition there are thousands of websites and documents supporting the Bin Ladin family being given shelter and a “safe exit” after the 9/11 attacks.

Thus, there are some gaps in the veil of immigration and “law” which we must contend with before we are gassed into believing one side over the other. I first blogged about this on my website and wanted to continue the discussion here.

Immigration is a topic that arouses much anger and hostility for many. For still others, there is a sense of this “loss of a country” that takes place and some even feel this xenophobic emotion toward anyone who is not “legal.” Moreover, when the term immigration is raised, it comes with certain connotations and rhetorical history, which also denotes a racialized implication which results in “Brown” people being implicated as the only type of immigrant. To make things even worse, propaganda, hate mongering through media discourses, and a history of both xenophobia (an unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange) and racism complicate the issue even further. Additionally, post 9/11 America presents new found challenges for any ethnic minority, but especially those who are of Middle Eastern decent. Adalberto Aguirre and Jonathan Turner record that:

“The tragic events of September 11, 2001 transformed America’s awareness of persons noticeably different from the Anglo-Saxon core. ‘Suspicious’ became a term for describing anyone who dressed differently, spoke a language other than English, or professed different religious beliefs. ‘Terrorist’ became the label for restricting the freedom of anyone who sounded or looked un-American. Unsurprisingly, after September 11, racial, ethnic, and religious minorities became perceived as suspected terrorists in American society” (In American Ethnicity: The Dynamic & Consequences of Discrimination [2009] p.xv).

Thus, the issue of immigration plays on the long culture of fear, which has helped to pass laws such as the one in Arizona. Fear makes people do strange things. In fact, fear is a powerful tool to get people groups—particularly nations—to pass legislation which tends to favor the majority and or those in elite status. This issue of immigration is nothing new for the United States.

For example, in the years pre-Civil War (about 1815-1855), there was great turmoil and upheaval in the country:[2]

—        Late 1820s was a time of great change

—        Transportation and market revolution

—        Industrialization and immigration of Chinese, Irish, and Scottish to the new found Colonies

—        Huge rise in Chinese, Irish, & Polish immigrants

—        Big Oil and Gold; the “rush for the West”

—        Fears

—        People felt threatened by a “Changing” America

—        People felt the “country was changing” for the worse and that “God was leaving”

—        “The British are Coming” still a fear in people’s minds and with the rise of freed Blacks in the North gaining political power, it made for an even greater fear. (Remember, many British generals offered freedom, money, and strips of land for Blacks in exchange for their loyalty to the British army)

—        Paranoia of:

—        Freed Blacks

—        Black uprising in the South

—        Canadian take over (with the help of slaves); slaves who had escaped went to Canada

—        Fears lead to the development of laws, which held back ethnic minorities from having a vote, holding land, being established in this society, and having a much needed voice—just ask any Native American Indian.

—        By 1860, the tipping point came when South Carolina succeeds and causes an uproar which begins more states succeeded which ultimately leads to war.

Fear is caused by many things:

  • Rumor
  • Media (Television, film, print)
  • Politicians
  • Hate

But one of the most destructive causes of fear, which tends to lead people to do horrendous things, is lying, or, as we call it today-Spin. Spin—the act of drawing out and playing down major issues or volatile events for favorable outcomes—has dominated particularly political spheres and speeches for the last 45 years. What has made this even more dangerous is that horrific results come of this—The Iraq war for oil, the torturing of detainees—and, when done in the “right way” spin can have lasting effects: the Patriot Act. Hence, the issue of immigration we have today.

Most of the issues surrounding immigration have nothing to do with those who are already “here.” Moreover, if we were to deport all those “illegal’s” most of us would hate to pay $25 for a head of lettuce, $1000 for a prom dress on sale, $2500 for landscape jobs, and $30 for a meal at McDonalds. The fact is, “illegal’s” play a very important role in American society; they subsidize the rich and upper middle class lifestyles. Moreover, “illegals” create a buffer zone for “cheaper prices” and “bargains” in the fashion industry, automobile industry, food industry, and even the medical industry. The very notion that American wants “Them” out is both hypocritical and duplicitous; it is a slap in the face to those who work to have a better life here in a country that was founded on hostile immigrant take over. Moreover, those who really want to do this country harm either are already here or have the corporate financing to avoid the trivial laws set in place.

Let us take a closer look at this through satire. Satire helps to bring issues into focus while poking fun at simplistic areas. This video clip below is a perfect example of what I mean:

We should open our minds and read our history. As Cornel West states all the time, “This is the United States of Amnesia” and the amnesic coma is deepening. “A lie told long enough becomes truth” Vladimir Lenin.

[1] As documented in "Letter To The President” (DVD 2003) & “Dark Alliance” by Gary Webb.

[2] Adapted from Franklin, John Hope, and Alfred A Moss Jr. 2000. From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans. 8 ed. Boston, New York, San Francisco, St Louis: Mc Graw Hill.


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Daniel White Hodge, PhD, a Hip Hop scholar & cultural theorist focuses on race relations, film, cultural trends, and spirituality. His book, The Soul Of Hip Hop (IVP) deals with the theological gospel of Hip Hop culture & its people.