Dear Younger Sister, George Santayana said words to the effect; "They who do not remember their history are likely to repeat it". There is something in the insensitive, almost arrogant attitude of a few persons who are strong supporters of the new Arizona immigration legislation, that gives the impression that they see no similarities between their immigrant history and current immigrant realities. Jay Leno in one of his routines said something like this, "The Immigration Bill in Arizona is going to provoke Native Americans into asking white's, 'let me see your papers'".
There continues to be a disconnect between who we say we are as Americans, and what some do to those who "do not look like Americans". We who are African American and my colleagues who are Gay, know something about the experience of "being" and "looking" different in the eyes of some who claim to be gatekeepers of American-ness. The discussion of issues of immigration and a host of other issues is needed and legitimate, but the anger of some and the quietness of too many of the rest of us, keeps us from engaging in sensitive and logical discussion and action.
I, as a straight person believe that the actualization of and acceptance of complete rights for LGBTQ persons and same sex couples ought be a "slam dunk". But, then years ago, I thought that the actualization of and acceptance of complete rights for Black persons ought be a "slam dunk". But, it seems that despite all of the rhetoric about American "exceptionalism" and the visibility of those who wear their patriotism on their sleeves, when it comes to the inclusion of those who are "diffrerent"in the eyes of some, the equal rights for all that are at the heart of our founding documents becomes invisible and non-existent.
But as Martin Luther King said about segregation near the end of his life; "Segregation is dead, it is just a question of how long some folk want to make its funeral." Marilyn, my "Younger Sister", and I, her "Elder Brother", know that as we talk to each other and with others about the intersections of heterosexism and racism, know that we are discussing isms that are dead, but do not know they are dead. So it is with whatever we call the ism of persons who are proud of their immigrant history, yet have a peculiar kind of resistance to new immigrants. That ism cannot continue to live much longer.
Sometimes as I hear the words and observe the actions of those who find meaning for themselves in building barriers rather than bridges, I don't want to see their papers, rather I wish I could see what is written on their hearts.
Gil Caldwell aka EB