|Today I am writing about a group of people so humble that they would risk life and limb to feed their families.
These people are not criminals; they represent the majority of humanity and simply seek a peaceful existence.
They are not breaking the laws designed to protect or guide civility among us. On the contrary, their lives are filled
with honest hard work on a daily basis.
These men, women and children are being corralled like cattle, arrested and then deported without any evidence
of wrong doing. Guilty of being the modern-day peasants, surfs, and slaves. In present derogatory terms, they are
guilty only of being the aliens, illegals, and wetbacks of society. A black co-worker, in a Malcolm X sentiment,
leaned over and whispered, “You mean the new niggers. And I believe that we all need to understand that the
slaves of old no longer pick cotton. It is the ‘new slave’ - Mexicans, El Salvadorans and other Latinos - who do the
labor nobody else wants.”
Which points to how little difference there is in the perception and treatment of both past and present slaves. The
old slaves are still regularly beaten by police for any misbehavior, shown on television while the purveyors of the
beatings are never prosecuted for the abuse. The white dominated society has denied both groups of slaves basic
human rights guaranteed by all national and international law.
They clean, cook, dig and drive for wages that assure them they will never visit the best doctors, their children will
not attend the best schools. But, “sometimes we do not recognize that we are slaves,” according to Dr. Charles
Ogletree, Harvard Law Professor, who recently spoke on the Front Page radio show on KJLH 102.3 FM. This is true
because we think as long as we have a TV set, car and a roof over our fat heads that there is no way we could be
slaves. As slaves, however, we are not allowed to have equal experiences when it comes to freedom and
democracy, even in the space we occupy - the barrios, the ghettos and all the poorer areas. Not even those of us
who assume so-called positions of power are safe from the scrutiny or harassment.
In 1935 600,000 “Mexicans” were deported and scholars estimate that 60 percent of them were actually U.S.
citizens, according to Joe Rodriguez of The Mercury News. It is no wonder that stories about U.S. citizens being
picked up and deported are beginning to surface.
Edward Cortez, Mayor of Pomona, was arrested and detained last month by Federal Immigration Agents. He was
out for a morning jog near his home and was caught in the early morning sweep. This shows the realization that
anybody who fits a certain racial profile is not safe from arrest or detention. A double standard of proof of identity
for the new slaves has become the norm for many Mexicans, Salvadorans, and other Latin Americans. They must
carry passports, birth certificates, green cards and a variety of documents to have handy if they are stopped by
the legally appointed over seers of apartheid justice, la migra, Federal Immigration Agents.
One woman from Pomona California called me. She has four children, and her husband was recently captured
during the very aggressive and totalitarian Gestapo-type raids. She was crying hysterically, clearly in anguish.
“What do we do without him? My sons are torn and filled with despair. How do we pay for food and rent? Should I
become a prostitute to feed my children? I am not sure how all of this will affect my children. Who is at fault? Who
is to blame? We are afraid to leave our home.”
In Huntington Park, California, on Pacific Blvd. several public transportation busses were being stopped on the
street and searched for undocumented workers. Federal Immigration Agents boarded the busses and arrested
people on the spot. On Imperial Highway, in the city of South Gate, near the 710 freeway, police block street
entrances and exits so that Federal Immigration Agents could question and arrest people on their way to work or
taking their children to school.
History has many parallels. Everyday when we walk out of the front door, we have a choice to accept history as it
is or to change history. But when governments have laws that perpetuate slave labor, unjust laws, laws that are
cruel, frightening, laws that create panic through a type of mental torture and treat people like animals, history
makes itself. History is there to warn us, but if we do not heed its warning, it will repeat itself, and the old tale of
what happens when the poor are miserable will come to pass again.
And when people are miserable and afraid it is easy to control them, easy to exert power on them, even easier to
convince them that they are inferior. It creates an environment where the new slave and old slave compete for the
worst jobs, worst homes, and in society it is reflected by an apathetic and complacent working class capitalist
slave, which includes the poor white population.
That is the common ground shared by the older black slave and the new brown immigrant slave. But as time
passes those people who are oppressed, beaten on public television, the slaves of old, those being deported
leaving hungry children behind, the new slave must unite to make history, to correct history. They must change
history so that our grandchildren will not live in the shadow of public beatings, public humiliation, and public
If this new generation of slave laborers, along side the old generation of slaves, grows up with fathers deported to
jails and far off boarders, poisoned by fast food at every corner, no medical care, ignorant-filled education about
our lack of contribution and importance, no compassion or no conscience from this country, there is no choice for
them but to unite and revolt against what Martin Luther King Jr. called, “unjust laws.”
If I knew that a government took my father, who was not a criminal, who was hard working and my mother
became a prostitute to help feed her children, what might I do? Who might I want to kill?
As long as governments like America continue to treat people with such undeserved cruelty, then those in power
need not wait too long for a revolution.
The majority of us might not react violently. But we have to realize that some of us are driven by despair, cruelty
and will feel a need to strike out.
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|Liberty and Justice for Some