Im­mi­gra­tion is not slaver y

South Florida Times - - NATION -

Too many folk con­tinue to con­flate the slave trade, that holo­caust ex­pe­ri­ence of cap­tured Africans, with the suf­fer­ing of other im­mi­grants.

Ev­ery day, there is some­thing in the me­dia com­par­ing the times when slave fam­i­lies were sep­a­rated (ba­bies torn from their moth­ers’ breast) to what is hap­pen­ing at the border. The events are un­re­lated.

The slaves were bru­tally cap­tured, chained and brought from Africa for the sole pur­pose of giv­ing an eco­nomic ad­van­tage to landown­ers; i.e., free la­bor.

His­tor­i­cally, im­mi­grants, no mat­ter where they are from, or what their color, cast, or class, have been in­vited, or al­lowed into Amer­ica for bet­ter­ment (theirs’ and the coun­try’s); whether it is de­fined as ex­ile (Cubans), asy­lum (po­lit­i­cal), per­se­cu­tion, es­cape from gang vi­o­lence/ rape, or just be­cause of bet­ter wages.

No other group ar­rived here un­der the same cir­cum­stances of the black African slave. None.

(Chi­nese la­bor­ers who were brought here to build the West Coast may come in as a close sec­ond, but even their his­tory is no com­par­i­son to what hap­pened to the African slaves.).

Look at the Na­tive Amer­i­can’s ex­pe­ri­ence. Some tribes don’t ex­ist any­more. Ex­ter­mi­nated. The sur­vivors? While still on their own land, fam­i­lies were sep­a­rated, rounded up onto reser­va­tions and, well into the twen­ti­eth cen­tury, their chil­dren taken to board­ing schools to lose their na­tive ways: girls’ hair was cut; forced to speak English; wear western clothes, and for­get their cus­toms- to make them ‘Amer­i­can.'

As hor­rific as it was, even their story should not be com­pared to that of the en­slaved African. Yet, it should be told again and again, lest we for­get them too.

I ad­mit that th­ese were in­hu­mane, nee crim­i­nal, treat­ments, but we must stop talk­ing about the slave ex­pe­ri­ence, the im­mi­grants' or Na­tive Amer­i­cans' out of the same side of our mouths.

Th­ese com­par­isons wa­ter down the his­tory and plight of blacks in Amer­ica, and threaten to re­duce the im­pact of our suf­fer­ing; de­flat­ing our on­go­ing ef­forts to gain full ci­ti­zen­ship.

Toni Morrison’s col­lec­tion of bril­liant lec­tures and es­says, "The Ori­gins of Oth­ers," with a fore­word by Ta-Ne­hisi Coates, ex­am­ines the lay­ers of oth­er­ness that black folk have ex­pe­ri­enced in Amer­ica. In her es­says, Morrison dis­cusses how lit­er­a­ture has treated race, fear, bor­ders, the mass move­ment of peo­ples, and the de­sire for be­long­ing­ness.

One es­say, The For­eigner’s Home, in­cludes the fol­low­ing state­ment:“Ex­clud­ing the heights of the slave trade in the nine­teenth cen­tury, the mass move­ments of peo­ples in the lat­ter half of the twen­ti­eth cen­tury and the be­gin­ning of the twenty first is greater than it has ever been be­fore.” ….”There is no doubt that the re-dis­tri­bu­tion (vol­un­tary and in­vol­un­tary) of peo­ple all over the globe tops the agenda of the state, the board­rooms, the neigh­bor­hoods, the street.”

Glob­al­iza­tion is a real phe­nom­e­non. Peo­ple will con­tinue to re­lo­cate; most be­ing re­moved by war; half, chil­dren.

That be­ing said, it does not mean that we can­not, or should not, be sym­pa­thetic to the plight of any/all suf­fer­ing hu­man be­ings. We know that we are all in this to­gether, so to speak.

There are count­less ex­am­ples of just how in­hu­mane our laws, poli­cies, and prac­tices have been in or­der to sup­port the bot­tom line of the dom­i­nate group (we need a border to pro­tect us from……).

In this cur­rent war on ‘oth­ers’, even Scrip­ture was held hostage in de­fense of evil acts.

Jeff Ses­sions, US At­tor­ney Gen­eral- the coun­try’s high­est rank­ing law en­force­ment of­fi­cer- had the temer­ity to use a New Tes­ta­ment bi­ble verse to sup­port the un­sup­port­able. But this is a man -made is­sue. The prob­lem of im­mi­gra­tion, part of the ‘Amer­i­can’ di­a­logue since 1776, has al­ways been how to deal with ‘the other’ (those who were not An­glo-Saxon, landown­ing males); not mem­bers of the dom­i­nant group.

And who is dom­i­nant in 2018? Repub­li­cans: ma­jor­ity white, mid­dle class, re­li­giously pi­ous and po­lit­i­cally con­ser­va­tive folk who elected Don­ald Trump.

Here is some his­tory: Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Park Ser­vice, The Statue of Lib, a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween French and Amer­i­can ar­chi­tects and en­gi­neers, was built in the late 1880s to memo­ri­al­ize the U.S.’s abo­li­tion of slav­ery; not so much as a bea­con for im­mi­grants. It was in the late 1880s when Emma Lazarus penned her mov­ing poem about the “poor and wretched com­ing to th­ese shores…..” (The last of the il­le­gal slave ships had dropped their cargo off in Alabama in the 1850s). Emma’s poem was etched onto the pedestal of the Statute of Lib­erty in 1903. Thus, the mar­riage of two great sym­bols of Amer­ica: A statute. A poem. A myth.

In the mean­time, chil­dren are be­ing caged at the border, and we do care.

What to do? What to think? How to re­spond to this on­go­ing cri­sis of con­science-about how we live in Amer­ica, and treat oth­ers? They will con­tinue to come.

Get in­volved. But don’t for­get who you are.

As the Florida State Chair of the Congress of Racial Equal­ity (CORE), I was ap­palled at many of the events of last week, par­tic­u­larly of Sarah San­ders, Pres­i­dent Trump’s press sec­re­tary be­ing kicked out of a restau­rant. I grew up in seg­re­gated Alabama and was barred from go­ing to restau­rants not owned by black folks.

But I also re­mem­ber be­ing snatched out of the white women’s bath­room at a gas sta­tion in Ge­or­gia when I was five­months preg­nant.

I thought about that and the many other in­dig­ni­ties I had to suf­fer be­cause some­one didn’t like the color of my skin. Now I was lis­ten­ing to a black woman around my age who would have had to en­dure the same ha­rass­ment had she lived in Alabama in­stead of California. In fact be­fore the ‘60s, she couldn’t even be a Con­gress­woman.

But now Con­gress­woman Max­ine Wa­ters, Demo­crat, was telling other Democrats – white and black – to ha­rass Repub­li­can cabi­net mem­bers and deny them peace, even in their own homes. She and other Demo­cratic mem­bers of Congress were ap­plaud­ing those who de­nied Repub­li­can cabi­net mem­bers the right to eat at their restau­rants – just be­cause they hated their pol­i­tics.

I never thought I would see any­one be­ing de­nied the right to eat in peace at a pub­lic es­tab­lish­ment since Dr. King, Rev. Aber­nathy and other black preach­ers and all the Free­dom Marchers from dif­fer­ent or­ga­ni­za­tions, in­clud­ing CORE, en­dured beat­ings, dogs, fire hoses, shoot­ings, lynch­ings and all other man­ner of ha­rass­ments – just be­cause some­one didn’t like the color of their skin.

Now even those who would have been ha­rassed 60 years ago be­cause of the color of their skin are ad­vo­cat­ing ha­rass­ing peo­ple be­cause they don’t like their pol­i­tics. Democrats used to hide be­hind Jim Crow laws; now they hide be­hind the First Amend­ment – call­ing it “the right to protest.”

They’re us­ing Pres­i­dent Trump’s “Zero Tol­er­ance” ban to protest the sep­a­ra­tion of His­panic chil­dren from their par­ents. But when Pres­i­dent Obama did it, they were silent. He was their man; he was a fel­low Demo­crat, so it was OK.

But Trump is a Repub­li­can, he’s the op­po­si­tion, so it is not OK.

As far as they are con­cerned, he was not sup­posed to be pres­i­dent, Hil­lary was. So Democrats are try­ing to in­val­i­date his pres­i­dency, by any means nec­es­sary. And that in­cludes ha­rass­ing his

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.