Liberty & Justice for Some

When people are miserable and afraid, it is easy to control them

By Robert Bracamontes
Published on LatinoLA: July 16, 2004

Liberty & Justice for Some

Today I am writing about a group of people so humble that they would risk life and limb to feed their families. These people are not criminals; they represent the majority of humanity and simply seek a peaceful existence. They are not breaking the laws designed to protect or guide civility among us. On the contrary, their lives are filled with honest hard work on a daily basis.

These men, women and children are being corralled like cattle, arrested and then deported without any evidence of wrong doing. Guilty of being the modern-day peasants, surfs, and slaves. In present derogatory terms, they are guilty only of being the aliens, illegals, and wetbacks of society. A black co-worker, in a Malcolm X sentiment, leaned over and whispered, ?You mean the new niggers. And I believe that we all need to understand that the slaves of old no longer pick cotton. It is the ?new slave? - Mexicans, El Salvadorians and other Latinos - who do the labor nobody else wants.?

Which points to how little difference there is in the perception and treatment of both past and present slaves. The old slaves are still regularly beaten by police for any misbehavior, shown on television while the purveyors of the beatings are never prosecuted for the abuse. The white dominated society has denied both groups of slaves basic human rights guaranteed by all national and international law.

They clean, cook, dig and drive for wages that assure them they will never visit the best doctors, their children will not attend the best schools. But, ?sometimes we do not recognize that we are slaves,? according to Dr. Charles Ogletree, Harvard Law Professor, who recently spoke on the Front Page radio show on KJLH 102.3 FM. This is true because we think as long as we have a TV set, car and a roof over our fat heads that there is no way we could be slaves. As slaves, however, we are not allowed to have equal experiences when it comes to freedom and democracy, even in the space we occupy - the barrios, the ghettos and all the poorer areas. Not even those of us who assume so-called positions of power are safe from the scrutiny or harassment.

In 1935 600,000 ?Mexicans? were deported and scholars estimate that 60 percent of them were actually U.S. citizens, according to Joe Rodriguez of The Mercury News. It is no wonder that stories about U.S. citizens being picked up and deported are beginning to surface.

Edward Cortez, Mayor of Pomona, was arrested and detained last month by Federal Immigration Agents. He was out for a morning jog near his home and was caught in the early morning sweep. This shows the realization that anybody who fits a certain racial profile is not safe from arrest or detention. A double standard of proof of identity for the new slaves has become the norm with many Mexican, Salvadorians, and other Latin Americans. They must carry passports, birth certificates, green cards and a variety of documents to have handy if they are stopped by the legally appointed over seers of apartheid justice, la migra, Federal Immigration Agents.

One woman from Pomona, California called me. She has four children, and her husband was recently captured during the very aggressive and totalitarian Gestapo-type raids. She was crying hysterically, clearly in anguish. ?What do we do without him? My sons are torn and filled with despair. How do we pay for food and rent? Should I become a prostitute to feed my children? I am not sure how all of this will affect my children. Who is at fault? Who is to blame? We are afraid to leave our home.?

In Huntington Park, California, on Pacific Blvd. several public transportation busses were being stopped on the street and searched for undocumented workers. Federal Immigration Agents boarded the busses and arrested people on the spot. On Imperial Highway, in the city of South Gate, near the 710 freeway, police block street entrances and exits so that Federal Immigration Agents could question and arrest people on their way to work or taking their children to school.

History has many parallels. Everyday when we walk out of the front door, we have a choice to accept history as it is or to change history. But when governments have laws that perpetuate slave labor, unjust laws, laws that are cruel, frightening, laws that create panic through a type of mental torture and treat people like animals, history makes itself. History is there to warn us, but if we do not heed its warning, it will repeat itself, and the old tale of what happens when the poor are miserable will come to pass again.

And when people are miserable and afraid it is easy to control them, easy to exert power on them, even easier to convince them that they are inferior. It creates an environment where the new slave and old slave compete for the worst jobs, worst homes, and in society it is reflected by an apathetic and complacent working class capitalist slave, which includes the poor white population.

That is the common ground shared by the older black slave and the new brown immigrant slave. But as time passes those people who are oppressed, beaten on public television, the slaves of old, those being deported leaving hungry children behind, the new slave must unite to make history, to correct history. They must change history so that our grandchildren will not live in the shadow of public beatings, public humiliation, and public deportations.

If this new generation of slave laborers, along side the old generation of slaves, grows up with fathers deported to jails and far off boarders, poisoned by fast food at every corner, no medical care, ignorant-filled education about our lack of contribution and importance, no compassion or no conscience from this country, there is no choice for them but to unite and revolt against what Martin Luther King Jr. called, "unjust laws.?

If I knew that a government took my father, who was not a criminal, who was hard working and my mother became a prostitute to help feed her children, what might I do? Who might I want to kill?

As long as governments like America continue to treat people with such undeserved cruelty, then those in power need not wait too long for a revolution.

The majority of us might not react violently. But we have to realize that some of us are driven by despair, cruelty and will feel a need to strike out.

About Robert Bracamontes:
Robert Bracamonte has been a semi-truck driver for thirty years and writes when ever he has extra time.

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