Wednesday, July 14, 2010


The news that some group of serious xenophobic assholes has made a list of 1300 people, including children and pregnant women (with, most creepily, mentions of their due dates) and tried to have it made public, with no care or feeling of responsibility to what might happen to those people, has freaked me out way more than a little.

I mean, come on.

It's got me thinking about my own past.

I, like most Americans, am descended from other places. On both sides of my family, I am descended from lower-class immigrants, people who worked back-breakingly hard for what little they owned, and whom the American system of living consistently disenfranchised politically and socially.

My mother, second youngest in an Italian Catholic family of 13 surviving children, never had her own bedroom. My father, oldest child of two Afro-Cuban immigrants, famously states that his first bed was a box (and whether or not this was true or merely his own brand of constructed folklore I have never properly established).

In any case, my immigrant family members found themselves left out of the American political process. This may be why the political figures that exist in my family have always been elevated to near-legendary status.

For me, the political has always been personal. A friend once nicknamed me "Political Spice." It's in my genes I guess.

On my father's side of my family, a man named Generoso Campos-Marquetti was the first black man to hold a political office in Cuba, and played a key role in the Race War of 1912. On my mother's side of the family is her uncle Frank Rizzo, the 1970s Philadelphia mayor with mob ties. During their many knock-down, drag-out fights my mother often invoked her familial mafia connections the way a woman in an ancient Greek play might invoke the furies.

Also, I really want to see this movie.

I'm not sure what my point is, I guess. Most of America is descended from immigrants. Property crime and violent crime in border states is down. Undocumented immigrants form a crucial part of the nation's economy. Also, a generation or tow ago, I might have been in the shoes of those 1300 people in Utah. And political power is hard to come by, and is treasured for generations after.

So, what's the problem? If your big beef is that these people are here illegally, then make it easier to come to the United States legally, problem solved. (I have a friend who works in immigration law, and trust me, it's a seriously difficult process.) It would take care of the human smugglers and the drug runners who control the process now.

But it wouldn't deal with the problem of their being so many brown people, which is increasingly more obviously the anti-immigration crowd's real issue.

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