In response to Ali's letter. Not that it matters in the grand scheme of things but I come from a lower-middle class background, in a single parent home, and grew up on the predominantly black south side of Chicago. Until I hit college, the public schools I attended were at least 90% black. My city is approximately 35% black, 40% white, and 25% Latino (of all types). I succeeded despite the systemic racism that exists in our country and particularly in our cities. I am for affirmative action to remedy past discrimination and deal with present discrimination. As my mother has been a teacher for 30+ years in the Chicago school system I understand the politics of race in the educational setting but don't necessarily agree with it. I also understand the politics of race in the nation as a whole and that is what I was referring to when I was speaking of the "divide and conquer" crowd. Race, as a political game, isn't limited to any particular race, and Ali's focus on Caucasians is his issue not mine. And yes, race is certainly a social construct since we are all originally from the same place and are all the same race. If more people understood this then perhaps we would stop attacking people of different ethnic backgrounds and we would understand that no matter where a person is from, or what they look like, they are just like you, with the same desires for a good life regardless of whether or not they were properly admitted at the border.
Clearly, it is highly unlikely that "a petite blue-eyed blonde" from Uruguay would face discrimination as a Latino - unless she couldn't speak English - as she does not share the physical characteristics that are commonly thought of as being shared by Latinos. Though she might be discriminated against as a woman. Also, internal power struggles within Latino or Hispanic groups (not to mention Chicanos) are wholly irrelevant to how those people are treated as a whole in the US. Additionally, Arab Americans, except a certain Palestinian friend of mine should certainly be treated fairly as all humans should.
All Ali is really describing in his letter are the same group struggles that have taken place for years in the US. Irish & Italians used to be the groups that were blamed for "taking" peoples jobs. Now it's the Mexicans. It is really only a big deal to people that don't like the groups in the first place. What's amusing is that some people here even pretend that they care about the "plight" of African-Americans who are apparently losing jobs to Mexicans. I can't imagine that people who revile one group that isn't like them could have it in themselves to care about another group that isn't like them.
What should be clear is that I want everyone to be treated fairly and have an equal opportunity. I don't care what color your skin is or what it says on your I-94. I believe our immigration laws are too restrictive and the claim that they are intended to promote family unity are a joke. Five years for a mother to bring her child to the US is inhuman. I believe IIRIRA was a travesty and responsible for irreparable damage to families and our judicial system.
If a restaurant hires an undocumented worker because they can exploit that worker then that doesn't fit into my idea of fair. If a restaurant hires an undocumented worker because they are a good worker and the restaurant is treating them fairly, then I don't care. I worked my way through college and law school in bars and restaurants and have seen for myself that both of those situations occur. Lastly, my letter was in response to a previous posting that was statistic & study free. Therefore, I felt a statistic & study free response was equally acceptable. Please, if you have links to studies, post them, or your anecdotes hold no more weight than mine.
Justin G. Randolph
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