Yesterday was all about gender, feminism, the sex industry, and how it all works together and what works for me (and you). Today … oh man, today… I’m talking race.
I know right? Sigh. Last week gave me so much material! I can’t help it!
Things may be a touch different outside of California, but in Santa Barbara, at the 4 Seasons, something that’s been tickling at the back of my mind shot up to the foreground. Through immigration, the US has created a servant class made up of brown people. As in your face as that sounds, that’s exactly what I’ve seen.
I would venture to say that in most hotels, if you looked around, there would be a big line between those who took your bag and cleaned your room and the people who checked you in and made you a drink. Every single person, every single one, who was working the grounds or maintaining the rooms at our hotel was Hispanic. And everyone at the front desk was white, and all of the guests were white, and the bartender’s were white, and the guys who parked your car were white. It was so glaring, it made me uncomfortable. And I thought about how weird it was, and I talked to Kamel about how weird it was, but that wasn’t enough to make me want to write about it. Because, oh god, a white lady talking about race divides and making observations on them? I really wasn’t thinking about approaching that line of doom.
And then, while hanging out in my robe, in bed, eating Trader Joe’s Cheesy Poofs, I saw this commercial:
And I was like “ahhh!! Racist!! so so racist!” because let’s be realistic. When we’re talking immigration in this country, the word becomes synonymous with Mexican. And Mexican, in California, has become synonymous with anyone from Central (or even south, let’s be real) America. Immigration has become a bad word. If you’re an immigrant it’s assumed that illegal should be pasted to the front of that, and it’s assumed that you’ll be working in the service industry, or in agriculture, or at someone’s house. And would that guy in the video be concerned with the flow of Canadian immigrants that are coming here legally to work? Canadians are in the top ten of those who emigrate to the United States and I just don’t think that’s who this guy is talking about, because that’s not what the national dialogue on this is saying.
This post is not about immigration reform, it is not about the debate on what to do with the border, it is not about the laws in Arizona. It’s about an awareness to look around and pay attention, it’s about the words we use and why we use them.
Why are we talking about immigrants coming in and stealing all of our jobs when the biggest job drain right now is out sourcing?
But pressure in a nation built entirely by immigrants is growing for some program that will solve the problem of a desperate shortage of skilled workers and a surfeit of those who are underskilled, undertrained and underpaid. And time is running out.
And what happens when a racial group (in this case, hispanics but it has been various others in the past) becomes the majority of our service workers? The pay may be fair, the job conditions may be totally fine, and yet it still maintains that big line between white america and everyone else.