Monday, May 5, 2008

Southern Democracy

In class we've spoken a lot about the power dynamics in the U.S and "Who rules America". We have also discussed how white supremacy was a tactic used by whites in the past to preserve their race, to keep them on the top of the power pyramid that Janine Carmona spoke about. On Thursday May 1, May Day was a day that people who believed and protested against HR4437 marched together to protest against the criminalization of Immigrants. While reading the Los Angeles Times blog entries about May Day I became infuriated by peoples comments on how they felt about the May first demonstration. Here are three examples on what people were writing;

It's so great to see people, who aren't American citizens, who have absolutely no rights guaranteed to them, come in here, demand we make changes to accommodate them, demand we change the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment, so their children are citizens and thus anchor babies, but refuse to allow us to enforce our immigration laws, and they refuse to learn English and demand we learn Spanish, so then we are terrorized by another 'No Gringo Day,' or what is it now, just May Day again?
If these people are able protest here, why can't they protest in their home country and demand change? But, there I go again thinking logically.

Posted by: Vaak | May 01, 2008 at 11:08 AM

I am sick to death over usa worriying so much over these illegals. We need to worry about our own. If we were in their country we would get no special treatment. What about our people. We are allowing these illegals to destroy America. I do not work to make these people a better life. I work to make mine a better life.Let them go back to their own countries and do the same.
God Bless America

While reading "With the Babies in their Arms ", by Paul Ortiz I began to think about to whose advantage does our democracy work for. Like Dagny asked in class, “Who do you think our founding fathers were thinking about when they wrote the Constitution”. Our democracy historically has had a problem with reinforcing equal treatment to their citizens of color. Like May Day, African Americans had always used Emancipation Day as a time when they reminded each other and their white neighbors that they had earned their citizenship, and now they used this day of remembrance to plan for the future (Ortiz). African Americans were not given the freedom they deserved but had to fight for it like many other people of color. In this reading we see women having a leading role in the fight for freedom, by fighting for their rights to vote and getting rid of Jim Crow Laws. When learning about African American movements you hardly read about black women’s contribution in organizing and also being leaders. I found this information rather refreshing to actually read about their roles as leaders in the Florida movements. At this time women, regardless of race were seeing inferior to men. Since black men and women began to fight for the right to vote white people saw it as a threat and looked for salvation in the white women’s vote. Giving white women equality in the voting sector with white men and also using their democratic vote as a ticket that would be used to make sure the white race remain the supreme race in the country.

Paul Ortiz also mentions how the sheriffs in Florida would let white on black crimes go unpunished and used their authority to block African Americans from organizing unions or voting. How do you think the African American communities felt when they couldn’t even depend on the people hired to protect and to serve them to actually do their job and not let their racism get in the way.

As result of the thousands of African Americans recruited in the Florida movement they were able to organize and make ties with other organizations resulting in change. My concern is why is it that when speaking about freedom other people have to work for them while others just have them. If we really had a working democracy and our laws were actually implemented than we wouldn’t have people still protesting and making demonstration for their equality.

Here are some Questions to think about and maybe respond to as a blog response:

What are the promises of Democracy?

How do you define them?

How, when and to whom would the promises of Democracy be extended?

How have others defined them?

What is the relationship between the individual and the social groups in the U.S.?

What does it mean to be an “American?”


Radical South Student said...

In my opinion, to be an American is to be proud of you who are, and celebrate who you are no matter where you come from. whether you are an immigrant, or an illegal. America is all about opportunity. To be an American in my opinion is a great blessing, I am very proud of being American. I also think that another side to be American, is always being extremey concious of what is going on around you. you have to always be aware of you surroundings and political matters that are going on. To be an American is not an embarassing or "stupid" thing to be, it is a wonderful thing, and America is all about freedom, and I truly believe to be an American is to be free. (lauren lamphere)

Sunniva Finney said...

I completely agree with you, it is shocking to realize that the majority of America is in fact backwards. American citizens blame fluctuations in the economy on immigrants, using them as a scapegoat rather than those who are exploiting cheap (illegal) labor and deciding to "pay under the table". Citizens scapegoating immigrants usually conveniently forget about the fact that illegals getting paid under the table are often times being paid a significant amount below minimum wage (why else would this labor carry so much appeal?). Personally, I feel a true American is an individual who recognizes and takes advantages of their liberties. In order to make progress in life, one must be active in self consciousness (recognizing their own personal needs/ goals). An American should also desire this same movement/progression by being an active member of society; recognizing the needs of individuals in their community. Democracy is more than a life long legacy of a single person, but rather one that continues to progress from the legacy of many.

awolf said...

I have not really explored the definition of an "American" because I feel that it is a dynamic term that is different for every individual. By and large I would say that when people are asked what their background is they respond with "Irish, “or "Chinese," or "Indian", rarely do I hear someone say "American". I think it is hard to define what an American is because we are the land of immigrants. Every culture and society that has come to America has brought something unique to the country and out of this we have created an American culture. We have Americanized Japanese food ,Mexican food, Chinese food, French food...this list goes on. To be an American is to have a mesh of different cultures within us, maybe without even being aware of it. We have Valentine's Day and Saint Patrick's Day, which have become an Americanized holiday even though their roots are not American. So many of our customs have originated from other countries. As American's I think we need to remember how diverse our culture is and we need to remember to be thankful for immigrants because immigrants have established this country and will continue to. Additionally, we need to remember that we are all here because we were immigrants at one point (unless you are fully Native American). It is ironic and unfortunate that our country has a long history of being isolationist and shutting its doors on immigrants (Eastern Europeans, Jews during the Holocaust, Latin Americans, and more) when immigrants have built our country.
~Tali Wolf

Mari said...

I believe that everyone should be respected for who they are. I do not believe it is necessary to make someone who is not considered an "American" any different. I believe that everyone here in America works really hard to be able tp be here especially the immigrants. And for that reason i believe that no one should put these hard working people down. I believe they deserve as much respect as any other person because if it were not for these poeple the United States would not be able to run on its own we need these illegal people here to provide everyone with there necessities and for this reason i say that everyone should be respected for who they are and not only if they are considered Americans or American Citizens

ylimeucsc said...

I am from Napa, and I actually encounter a lot of the type of comments above when I am there. There is a large Immigrant population in Napa mostly because it is agriculturally based. There have been marches on our main street led by the high schools, and whenever you pick up a newspaper during grape season there is always an article about it.
I could never understand why people thought that because they were born on a piece of land they had more right to be there than the people who weren’t. People are People, and there is not one that should have entitlement over the other at their birth. I have a hard time coming up with what I think it means to be an American. I don’t really know. I don’t think there is really one type of American. I would like to think that we have a questioning revolutionary spirit that seems to come out in waves of social reforms, but not everybody is like that.
I think that is what is dangerous when you define things too distinctly, that really don’t have that clear of an answer.

Jean Strandberg said...

Though I always find these sorts of comments interesting, I find them particularly interesting today, after finishing a paper on the US policies and interventions in Latin America that push immigration into the US from these countries.

The US has historically intervened in Latin American affairs in ways that actually cause this immigration (that benefits now as the policies did then) that these bloggers are complaining about. The Green Revolution, NAFTA, the CIA-backed Guatemalan Coup d'etat- all created landless workers, poverty, and/or violence in the countries from which immigrants to the US are fleeing.
...not to mention manifest destiny which made Mexicans into immigrants of sort without them even moving.
I think that for these sorts of ignorant opinions to change, US citizens are going to have to be taught history beyond what we see in our Houghton-Mifflin text books today.