Archive for November, 2005

The Nortec Collective

Check out this radio piece I co-produced on the music of the Nortec Collective. On his blog, P.G. Beas (Hiperboreal) refers to me as a “gringo muy mexicano.”

Giving away blankets in Tijuana

Walking through Terrazas in Tijuana

On Saturday, November 20th, a group from the North County Church of Christ in Escondido, California, brought 125 blankets to Tijuana. Above, a group of locals help take blankets through the colonia Terrazas.

Free Blanket

As they walked through the neighborhood, this woman approached and asked the selling price. He told her they were free and she stared at him. She asked what the catch was and he said there was none, that they came from the church around the corner. She relunctantly took a blanket double checking that it was actually free. Her expression following this picture was a sincere mix of disbelief and gratitude. That would have made a more powerful picture, but I had lowered the camera at that point to avoid further scepticism.

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Feast

“The year was 1637 . . . 700 men, women, and children of the Pequot Tribe gathered for their Annual Green Corn Dance in the area that is now known as Groton, Connecticut. While they were gathered in this place of meeting, they were surrounded and attacked by mercenaries of the English and Dutch. The Indians were ordered from the building as they came forth, they were shot down. The rest were burned alive in the building. The next day, the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared: A day of Thanksgiving, thanking God they had eliminated over 700 men, women and children.” – From the Documents of Holland, 13 Volume Colonial Documentary History, letters and reports from colonial officials to their superiors and the King in England and the private papers of Sir William Johnson, British Indian Agent for the New York colony for 30 years.

What it takes to be an “illegal”

I often hear them referred to as “illegals.” I hear news stations reporting on “illegal immigration” as if it were Mad Cow Disease. And I wonder about this term “illegal.”

  • If I hire my neighbor’s 13 year old son to mow my lawn and pay him in cash, am I an illegal employer? Is he an illegal worker? What if I pay my niece to babysit?
  • If I drive with expired plates, expired license, no insurance, am I an illegal driver? What if I do have valid license and registration but do 80mph the entire trip and don’t get caught? I have broken the law, but does that make me an illegal? What if a policeman pulls me over and asks me if I know how fast I was going and I lie?
  • I travel to the U.S. with a valid visa but stay past its expiration date. I stay with rich friends and enjoy my time for an extra month. Am I an illegal?
  • I live in Canada but cross the border daily to work construction and get paid in cash. Am I an illegal?
  • I travel from México to visit my brother in Arizona. I decide to stay and live (not work) with my family indefinitely. Am I an illegal?
  • I study K-12 in California, graduate top of my class, speak un-accented English, but lack a U.S. birth certificate because I was brought to California at age 2. Am I an illegal?
  • I drive to México for a weekend trip and forget to declare the avocados I bought when I return. Am I an illegal, or just the avocados?
  • I stop to enjoy the shade outside a Home Depot. I am dark skinned, wear a cowboy hat and boots. Am I an illegal?

In my mind, the only common thread that deems someone “illegal” is that they look Mexican (also read Latino, Hispanic, Nonwhite, Other). These people are foreigners and Americans (suffering from historical amnesia) don’t like immigrants. These people don’t belong here. Close the border and deport the illegals! It’s plain and simple racism. If you get caught with your pants down in public, it’s called “indecent exposure.” If you walk across the middle of a street it’s called “jaywalking.” If you let your auto registration lapse, you get a fix-it ticket. But if you have an expired visa you’re an “illegal.” Is there something morally abhorent about visa violations?

If you don’t think you’re racist towards Mexicans, here’s a litmus test for your next dinner party conversation on “illegals.” Try getting your point across without using demonizing terms like “illegal” to describe them. Be specific. Who exactly are you talking about? What exactly is their crime?

Seems like a shame to use a fear-inducing label like this only on one group of people. Perhaps we should consider broadening its use.

Funky Tentacles

Funky Tentacles

Testing out the Tamron 90mm 2.8 Macro lens. Things definitely look weirder the closer you get.

Ancient Wisdom

Ancient Wisdom

Another test with my new camera. Again, taken about a block from my apartment. That’s a chain link fence in the background. Perhaps the title is a bit over-dramatic but it seemed fitting nonetheless.