Poetic Injustice

A racist poem degrading immigrant Mexicans published in Northern California rag causes furor

By Al Carlos Hernandez
Published on LatinoLA: July 23, 2002

Poetic Injustice

A racist poem, insulting and degrading Mexicans in general and undocumented immigrants in particular, ran in a monthly publication called "The Valley Citizen", a Northern California periodical that serves Danville, Diablo (which means devil). Alamo and Blackhawk, some of the richest areas in the state.

The publication is a self-styled conservative rag with editorial content that spins an ?affirmative? focus on ?family values?, business, free enterprise and constitutional government. Many who have seen the poem, entitled ?Illegal? -- which can be viewed at, consider it xenophobic.

Co-publisher Terry Thompson responds to critics by saying ?I apologize if you find it offensive; the intention was to highlight the problem of illegal immigration.? Thompson says that the poem was forwarded to him by e-mail and that he has not been able to attribute it to an author.

Since Thompson has a practice of running unsoliticted poems sent to him by e-mail, he may want to try this one on for size. I call this one:


"We cross the border to earn a better life,
and find a land of racial hatred, anger and strife.

We perform the dirty work Americanos are too good to do,
dishwashing, fruitpicking, landscaping, care taking...
Our clients that pay under the table, could be you.

You look beyond us with an elitist glare,
condescending, dismissive, with pompous Americanistic ire.

Hitler did the same thing when he trivialized the Jews,
He artificially made them the scapegoats for all social and political problems
Old and new.

We don?t come for the welfare; we don?t qualify at all,
The real welfare is the corporate bailouts,
Tens of billions of dollars that befall.

It is the white-collar traders:
Enron, WorldCom, and Andersen whose tales are truly gory.
American idols caught red-handed are the beginning of the story.
The stealing of millions of hardworking people?s 401k plans is what should be deserving of cowardly anonymous poetic glory.

We pity you in your clinical stately homes,
in guarded communities, like bees, in fact drones.
Souless shrines to sins of the bourgeoisie,
couched in fear and loathing, people surrounded by activity
Yet always alone.

It is not that we come here because we want to,
our country has failed us in many ways.
We come here to work for a season and the seasons,
Quickly turns from summer into the winter of our days.

There is a way to get here, which is legal, costly,
bureaucratic, arbitrary and inane.
It is the bravest, the boldest, who come here a la brava,
forgoing the playing of the game.

We wish there was a way to come here work,
make the money and go back.
A way to use our sweat equity labor to make the mother homeland
stalwart and on track.

Nevertheless, in this global economy the superpowers hold all the cards.
We find ourselves cleaning up designer dog refuse, in the back of palatial,
laughterless backyards.

You say we have a hobby, you say our hobby is breeding.
Your ignorant pentameter alleges that welfare has to pay for the baby?s feeding.

The time is coming, and indeed, it is here,
When the minority has become the majority,
The majority must change its veneer.

In our culture, life is cherished love divine,
Our children we consider gifts.
You dismiss your precious little ones to scripted play dates,
So much so that your presence is rarely missed.

Who do you think is going to raise little Johnny
when you are never, home to greet him.
What culture will he really embrace
when his nanny's name is La Abuelita?

There will come a time when in your tradition,
when you are old and gray.
Your family will abandon you to a convalescent facility
around the way.

It will be the ?Illegal,? the Mexican, the Filipino,
the disregarded people of the day,
Who will look after you, in your twilight and forgive your trespasses in loving-kindness
Dismissing all of the negatives and the hurtful things you had to say."

Terry Thompson needs to publicly apologize for running the ?Illegal? poem; it is didactically hurtful and divisive. There is little question he knew what he was doing and did it with mal intent. If there is no apology, then the Mayor of Danville, California should do the honorable thing and resign his post or at least make a public proclamation denouncing Thompson?s racially divisive efforts.

About Al Carlos Hernandez:
Al Carlos is a contributing columnist.

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