Saturday, April 10, 2010

Social Justice Event

Yesterday I attended a social justice event at Brown University. I searched online and found an event titled "A Day Without a Mexican", and even though we did not specifically discuss Mexicans and illegal immigration in class, I thought it would be great social justice topic because it is an issue that is very relevant to today's society. There were many other events about other cultures, Indian cooking, Slavic Dances, etc. , but I went with "A Day without a Mexican" because its an actual current issue (even though the Slavic Dances were very enticing, since I am Slavic myself).
When me and my husband got there, we noticed that we were the only really white people there. There was Mexican candy laid out on the table. Just for the record, Mexican candy is very hot and spicy. Burn-your-tongue-off kind of spicy. Then we watched an hour and forty minute long mockumentary about the importance of Mexicans, and other Latino workers, to the American, and especially Californian, economy.

The video was actually really funny and well-made. It shows what would happen if all the Mexicans suddenly disappeared. The disappearance of Mexicans from California first and foremost effected California's agricultural economy. All the fruit was rotting and tomatoes became an expensive commodity. Most of the restaurants closed down because of the lack of employees. Schools closed because 20% of elementary school teachers in California are Latino. Many industries suffered due to the lack of consumers. The border patrol was out of a job. All of California was in chaos. Here is an alternate view about how the immigration of Mexicans hurts America, although the film claims that the amount Mexicans take in welfare payments is nothing compared to the economic contribution they make as low-wage workers.

The topic of invisibility and marginalization (Carlson) was brought up. Although the film was about the marginalization of Mexicans and not gays, Carlson's article really pertained to the film. The Mexicans were often marginalized and labeled as "the others". It wasn't until their disappearance that the rest of California began to appreciate them and call them "our Mexican brothers and sisters". It wasn't until they became literally invisible, that the community really started to care about them.

One could also notice many of the points Peggy McIntosh made played out in the film. For example, she said, "I can be pretty sure that my neighbors [in a new] location would be neutral or pleasant to me". Many Mexicans can never be sure of that, since when Mexicans move into an area, they are often seen as polluting the neighborhood, and in this film, they were seen as the pollutants of the whole state of California. Another one of McIntosh's points that literally applied was "I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group". In the film, there was only one Mexican who was "left behind", and she became a sort of spokes person and representative for all the missing Mexicans. Another very relevant one is"If a traffic cop pulls me over, or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure that I havent been singled out because of my race". The same is certainly not true for Mexicans, who are often more suspected by authorities. Many many more of the points in the McIntosh article apply to Mexicans and other Latinos, and the film certainly portrayed that from beginning to end.

Kozol could also be applied to the film, since much like the blacks and other minorities that inhabit Mott Haven, California has plenty of areas that are similarly inhabited by Mexicans. Many of them also live in poverty and in conditions similar to that of Mott Haven. Many cant get the benefits they deserve, even if they are not illegal aliens. Its safe to say that many Mexicans are assumed to be illegal just because of their race.

Overall, I really liked the film. It was hilarious to watch and very practical in the sense that it showed that we should appreciate Mexicans and that they are indispensable to our society and community. However, the film did not exactly line up with the "equality" topic that is so central to our class. The film did ask white Americans to work to place Mexicans on an equal level with themselves, or even see Mexicans as equal human beings. It was more of like, "We need the Mexicans to do our dirty work, and we cant live without them". Nevertheless, I still liked the film and I thought it was very relevant and realistic, without focusing on idealistic goals and on visions for the future society of America.

1 comment:

  1. I have wanted to see this for a long time. Great links to our course.