Monday, May 22, 2006

Two Histories Meeting with a Bang

In one corner, there's this type of widespread narrative. (Obnoxious Headline of the Day Award: Latinos altering culture, Some Arizonans say)
"I feel they are threatening our American way of life," said the retired court reporter from Sun City West. "They come in here illegally and expect us to adapt to them. And they have no right to do that. The American way is being attacked."

At barbecues and picnics, in senior centers and college campuses, many Arizonans seem to be struggling with what they believe to be a changing cultural identity. The way they see it, Hispanics and immigrants are threatening the country's culture by imposing their language and symbols of identity.
The linked article comes from the Arizona Republic, which primarily serves the Phoenix metro area but has a statewide circulation that surpasses all the others. You would think that our media would be alittle bit more sympathetic to its area's roots. Unfortunately, that is not the case and we must find the unique history of la frontera being told elsewhere....the WaPo of all places.
Hector Flores knows almost everyone within blocks of the little cinderblock house his family still owns there. Yet he could not imagine moving back to Mexico -- and leaving his medical benefits in the United States -- even though he knows almost no one in the trailer park where he lives in Sunland Park. Maria Bernal lost her best friend in the United States -- "my only friend" -- to AIDS two years ago, and making friends in Texas has been hard. So her social life, too, is in her old barrio in Mexico.

"Over here, I'm not really an American," she said one recent afternoon while waiting in El Paso for a bus to take her across the border. "Over there, I'm not really a Mexican."

She said she is "something in between."

Me too, Maria. It is a reality that is shared by many of us who have learned to walk and chew gum at the same time. We're not just walking or just chewing gum, we are doing both at the same time creating a different action altogether. Whenever I hear a spitting tirade from the likes of Lou Dobbs that "they must learn English" I want to get on my phone and retort back, "what makes you think they don't want to?"

I've never met an immigrant who was stubborn and refused to want to learn the dominant language of the U.S. He/she is a myth cooked up by those who would rather not have the scourge of the immigrant's diversity blighting the American countryside in the first place. The effect of all this rabid insistence on language monopoly are the creation of more Zack Rubios who are afraid to connect with their cultural roots. Even further than that are the Man Eegees who have lost the language tie-in to their ancestry altogether and are forced to learn it from a book or drive-in-your-car CDs.

I thought humanity was supposed to progress? This whole thing is teaching me that as convergent and opposing histories meet with a bang, the phoenix left in the ashes at the end of the explosion will be cursed/charged with making the same journey as its forebears.

Where are we at in the cycle and what lies ahead?

No comments: