Sunday, June 17, 2007

Viva la Raza

Interesting phenomena are starting to happen now that Latinos are overtaking this country. Our asses are going to be kissed frequently and heartily by every candidate from here to 2008. At least by the Democrats. I’m very interested in finding out what the Republicans intend to do about their Latino-bashing. Almost 15% of the population is not small potatoes.
Still, they will have a lot of supporters from certain Latinos that are as tired of the new influx of immigrants as the next redneck.
It so happens that a couple of times recently, I’ve heard evidence of resenment, if not outright prejudice, between the latinos who have and those who have not. Those whose families arrived ages ago, who paid their dues and who are now culturally and legally American resent that everybody thinks that all Hispanics are poor, brown, healthcare-services-abusing illegals. People like Jessica Alba, who don’t want to be identified or associated with Latinoness.
Memo to Jessica: Baby, the reason why you are hot and spicy, is because you are a cute Latinita, not because you are, like my dearly departed friend Rebecca used to say about some insipid gringos, tofu ice cream.
Or people like that Mexican-American restaurant owner in California who wants to ban the Tacomobiles because they compete with his business. Never mind that the Tacomobiles cater mostly to workers with less money in their pockets (and may serve better tacos as well).
Both Jessica and this guy exhibit an interesting trait of former immigrants or children of such: snobbishness against their own kind.
Now, this is not exclusive to Latinos. Apparently, in every immigrant group, the pioneers get all snotty with the recent arrivals. Look at us, we are now much more sophisticated, urbane and with it, while the new ones are just embarrassing, with their ignorance and their old country ways. The Jews called them "greenhorns". The established Cubans in Miami didn’t want to be confused with the Marielitos. Older arrivals simply do not want to be associated or confused with the great unwashed. It is understandable to a certain point. I can understand the frustration of many Hispanics at the wholesale stereotype that all Hispanics are Mexican jumping beans, all impoverished and desperate and illegal. But there is something chilling about the lack of empathy, or at least the recognition that your recent ancestors may have done exactly the same thing so you could now be a Hollywood star or a modest entrepeneur. But is it any wonder? Why should it be any different here than in any of our countries, where the divide between rich and poor is often, if not always, also racial, and where prejudice against the poor is rampant, unfair and as daily an ocurrence as rice and beans?
The difference between a country like Mexico and the US is that here somebody from the bottom of the barrel can aspire to become a Hollywood star or a modestly successful business owner, or at least to get a half decent wage for the sweat of their brow, whereas in Mexico pretty much only in their wildest hallucinations will they ever be allowed to climb up the bottom of the barrel. And for that reason alone, even though I agree that illegal immigration must stop, I can't stop empathizing and admiring those brave souls who come here looking for a better chance.

No comments:

Post a Comment