Wednesday, November 11, 2009

On David Bacon's Talk Disappointing

I don't have a lot of time to write at the moment, but I wanted to mention that I was able to hear David Bacon speak the other night. I've been reading his articles on migration for a while, and I have enjoyed his book "Communities Without Borders" as well as the bits of "Illegal People" that I've read so far.

I was disappointed, though, that although he mostly advocated for migrants' rights, he really fell short on challenging white citizens on their racism. He mainly argued that white citizens should not oppose undocumented migrants because migrants can contribute to a stronger political power (we can join with them to get health care), and the economy wouldn't be as great without them. That's why you should care. This bugs me to no end, and it's so common, you hear folks saying it who stand side by side with migrants in their struggles.

Stop buying into those attitudes! Why don't we question why migrants are considered less valuable as people not just as workers, why they're not considered deserving of the same rights and privileges as any other citizen (not that there's anything like equality among citizens). How about we question the legitimacy of the border itself! Seriously, why use the opportunity to speak in front of a big group of people just to talk about how deporting all the migrants will result in us not having so many people to clean the office buildings? Migrants do contribute to social security and pay taxes, and they support our economy, so let's give them a big "bienvenidos"! I really hope David Bacon does not believe in all these things he said.

Okay, I understand that some people will only be open to these arguments, but why validate them? It's almost like a man saying "well, maybe women would give us better blow jobs if we treat them nicer". I just don't understand the willingness to use these arguments.

More later probably...

*Update: This article, Why We Should Defend Undocumented Workers, is very similar to the presentation that David Bacon gave, if you want to read it. It is actually quite good, but again, there were parts that disappointed and frustrated me. Here's a quote, "If everyone went home tomorrow, would there be fruit and vegetables on the shelves at Safeway? Who would cut up the cows and pigs in meatpacking plants? Who would clean the offices of New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco or Chicago?... The vast majority of white people - the descendants of European immigrants - are workers too. We all work. We all need to work to put bread on the table for our families. But without the labor of immigrants, the system would stop."

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