Subject: "Fear of a Brown America!" by Mumia Abu-Jamal
FEAR OF A BROWN AMERICA!
[Col. Writ. 4/20/06] Copyright '06 by Mumia Abu-Jamal
The simmering struggle over immigration continues to bubble over the Congressional vacation, and after all is said and done, it is doubtful in the extreme that they have the solution.
The contending bills, each more repressive than the last, are all less to do with the proper status of immigrants than with the attempt to further whiten the U.S. If we turn back the clock, we see echoes of this whitening trend throughout American history.
Back in the 1920s, during the heyday of the Ku Klux Klan, the racist US Congress set formal immigration quotas, which, according to historian Howard Zinn, opened the doors to whites, and slammed the door on millions of people of color. In his classic work, *A People's History of the United States: 1492-- Present* (New York: HarperCollins, 1980 ), Zinn writes: "Congress, in the twenties, put an end to the dangerous, turbulent flood of immigrants (14 million between 1900 and 1920) by passing laws setting immigration quotas: the quotas favored Anglo-Saxons, kept out black and yellow people, limited severely the coming of Latins, Slavs, Jews.
No African country could send more than 100 people; 100 was the limit for China, for Bulgaria, for Palestine; 34,007 could come from England or Northern Ireland, but only 3,845 from Italy; 51,227 from Germany, but only 124 from Lithuania; 28,567 from the Irish Free State, but only 2,248 from Russia." [p. 382] In the 1930s, the U.S. government forcibly expelled some two million people of Mexican ancestry from the country, according to a California state senator. Senator Joe Dunn argues that of that number, some 60% were U.S. citizens, most of whom were born in this country. Because many of them couldn't speak English, they were wrongfully deported.
Those people were deported because they weren't white.
Indeed, many of them claim to have left 'voluntarily', but in truth, they were forced out by racist harassment and ethnic intimidation. In the words of a Los Angeles director of Immigration, recorded in 1931, "thousands upon thousands of Mexican aliens have been literally scared out of Southern California."
For those Mexican-Americans who defied these deportations, intimidations, and harassment, there was another hurdle, best expressed by the slogan of L.A.'s Chamber of Commerce: "Employ no Mexican while a white man is unemployed." The kicker, of course, was by this time, America was gripped in the Great Depression, and there weren't many men, white, Black, or brown, who had a job that paid.
We like to think that was then; this is now. We look back at those days as if they were somehow different than we.
We *are* different. But that doesn't mean we are better.
The same political will to appeal to the worst in us suffuses the political bodies that claim to speak in our names. The same 'us vs. them' instinct drives national policy. The same repressive nature is reflected in the words and tone of of proposed legislation.
We have not gone so far as we think we have.
We don't speak as openly as they did some 80 years ago, but the meanings and objectives are exactly the same.
There are forces at work in this nation that dread the growth of a BrownAmerica (even if over a third of this country was originally Mexican territory!).
If Canadians were forced over the northern border to feed and support their families, the predominant view would be, 'how can we help?'
Indeed, it is the many fires of repression lit by the U.S.-supported counter-insurgencies that drives people from Guatemala, from Nicaragua, from El Salvador, from Colombia and beyond, to cross the Rio Grande. People come north to find a peace that the U.S. made impossible in their homelands.
How many hundreds of thousands of people -- no -- how many millions were forced into exile because of the repression of their armies, by troops taught how to torture in the School of the Americas?
The best way to impact immigration is to cease this nation's
meddling in the affairs of nations in Latin America.
Or else, the flood will only rise.
Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal
(Source: *The Spark*, Apr. 10-24, 2006, p. 3.)
[Mr. Jamal's recent book features a chapter on the
remarkable women who helped build and defend
the Black Panther Party: *WE WANT FREEDOM:
A Life in the Black Panther Party*, from South
End Press (http://www.southendpress.org