⟦ Guest Post: From the desk of Ricardo Ignacio ⟧
Over the past year, I was introduced through Facebook sharing to the page of Ricardo Ignacio, author and activist. As an indigenous American, Mr. Ignacio has been adamant about speaking for his community in the face of rampant anti-Indigenous racism and political subjugation via US governmental interference. Of course, one of the most difficult topics concerns the immigration status of millions of Latinx/Indigenous people living here; Mr. Ignacio holds no punches in his strident critique of the hypocritical nature of White America's stance on documented and undocumented residents. I won't say too much more, besides asking you, dear reader, to take a few moments to read one of his recent posts on these subjects. Unfortunately, Blogger will not allow for an embed of the full facebook post, so I am copy-pasting here, with a link to Mr. Ignacio's page below that.
Original Post Date: June 29, 2016
I was walking out of a school campus in Sacramento, California, and across the street where my car was parked were a group of Caucasian guys standing near a construction site, and whatever those guys were saying or doing seemed to catch the attention of a few construction workers. I wasn’t planning on finding out, but I did have to pass by in order to get to my car, so when I neared them, one of the Caucasian guys noticed me and smiled asking me if I was an American, so I simply answered yes.
“Oh, good! These guys here are not Americans!” He said, pointing his finger at the construction workers.
“Ok.” I replied.
“And it’s these non-Americans the ones who are coming to America and taking the jobs of us Americans, so meanwhile we Americans are unemployed, these immigrants are working and making money!” He explained.
“Is that why you and your comrades are here lingering, because you want these construction workers to become aware of your concern?” I asked.
“Yeah, but they don’t even speak English!” He nodded.
The construction workers remained distant, but one of them cautiously approached us, and then politely asked me, “Que onda, paisa?”
“Como andamos, compa?” I replied.
“Pues aqui nomas, mire, trabajando duro.” He smiled.
“Si, caloron!” He said.
“What is he saying?” The Caucasian guy asked me.
“Not much, we’re just greeting each other.” I said to him.
“Que onda con los gringos, paisa?” He asked me, pointing his finger at the Caucasian guy that spoke with me.
“What did he say?” The Caucasian guy asked me.
“He wants to know why you are here.” I said.
“Can you please translate what we are protesting about?”
“I doubt he’ll care, he’ll probably just laugh, but I’ll do it.” I said, and then explained to the construction worker exactly what the Caucasian had explained to me.
“Oh, he thinks we are taking his jobs?” The construction worker said, but in Spanish.
“Pretty much.” I said.
“I see… ok, well, here…” He said, and then dropped a tool that he held, removed his headgear, his vest, and then his tool-belt, and then said:
“Tell him to put it on. In fact, if the rest of his friends are interested in working, I am the mayor of this company, so tell them they are hired.”
I quickly translated what the construction worker said, and then the Caucasian guy, along with the others began to look at each other, seeming nervous or uncomfortable.
"Is he serious?” He asked me.
“The white guy wants to know if you’re serious.” I asked the construction worker.
“I already took my gear off, tell the rest of them to step into that bungalow and get geared up.” He answered, so I translated.
The Caucasian guys began to speak amongst each other, complaining that it was too hot to work, and some that it was a sh!tty job, and basically all sorts of excuses as to why they wouldn’t work, so finally the Caucasian said to me:
“Tell him that today is too hot to work. Maybe we will come back some time and take his offer.” He said, so I translated.
The construction worker smiled, and then began to explain:
“Tell them that we didn’t come to take anybody’s job. We are only doing the jobs that most U.S. citizens refuse to do, either because the job is too difficult, the weather is uncomfortable, the pay isn’t so great, or whatever the reason, but it is very rare when I see a gringo doing this sort of work. The few that do, they actually appreciate us a lot because they acknowledge that we are the hardest workers in America. They know this, but most gringos can only criticize us because they’ve never actually faced our struggle or worked along with us, so they have no clue what it’s like, but that’s why the very few gringos that do work with us, they are very grateful for us because they know what we are capable of withstanding.
Translate that for me, please. Tell the gringo these words.”
I translated, and then afterwards the construction worker added:
“Tell them this also:
If he wonders how and why we are capable of doing such work, such as construction; building the roads they drive on, the houses they live in, picking the fruits and vegetables on the fields that they enjoy, cooking the food inside of restaurants where they eat, washing the dishes they eat out of, and basically holding America together on our backs, is simply because we are America. We are the backbone of America, and we’ve been building America way before gringos came from Europe, so he along with his buddies need to figure out who the immigrants are, because if their goal is to deport us all, then they are condemning themselves because without us America has no backbone, it will all crumble. He and his friends might not know it, but the leaders of America know this, and that’s why we are still here. If they truly wanted us gone then we’d be gone, but they need us, they need our hands and backs because without us then their world would fall.
Sure, they deport many of us to make the dumb population believe that they are trying to solve the immigration issue, but realistically they are only controlling the amount of undocumented people here. The leaders of this country want us here, but only a certain amount, in order to exploit us, because by paying a people less than minimum wage is how they get wealthier, so if citizens have a problem with being unemployed then it’s with wealthy gringos who don’t care about their citizens but only about their wealth.
Gringos need us, but we don’t need them, we were perfectly fine without them, and we are only doing exactly what we were doing before Europeans came to America, which is to continue working our land."
Unless that rock under which you live is so big that current events don't reach you, I'm sure you've seen and heard the field day that mainstream media has been having over San Francisco 49'er Colin Kaepernick and his refusal to stand during the US National Anthem before the start of his games. The following are my posts that happened elsewhere on social media, restructured/reposted here in response to his protest. For those still "insulted" by that protest, Kaep just announced his donating $1M to various community-based charities as a followup measure to his civil disobedience, stating: "I’ve been very blessed to be in this position and make the kind of money I do, and I have to help these people...I have to help these communities. It’s not right that they’re not put in the position to succeed, or given the opportunities to succeed.”
Statements below have been edited for grammar and syntax.
To be extremely, painstakingly clear:
The #NFL has had on its roster players who have engaged in all sorts of unprofessional, if criminal, conduct, both on and off the field. From adultery, to drug use, to alcoholism, to serious battery and assault (civilians and other players), illegal gun possession, domestic abuse, accused rape, and much more. To say nothing of the notorious actions of the various coaches, staff, and non-athletic personnel. All of these indiscretions, depending on their severity and the importance of said individual(s), have been, at any given time, overlooked because the team/franchise/organization to whom they belong deemed them too valuable an asset to let their behavior stop them from being a member of their ranks. In fairness, this includes Colin Kaepernick himself, who was connected to an alleged harassment complaint by a woman he met during a party at the apartment of Seahawks wideout, Ricardo Lockette in 2014.
Yet, Mr. Kaepnernick's legally, Constitutionally defensible act of sitting during the US National Anthem is being excoriated by the public and scores of NFL professionals, citing everything from Un-American behavior to outright treason, and judging from those reactions, it's looking like he will not return to the field as a contracted player once his time with the 49'ers is up, not to mention the very real danger he faces at the hands of deranged nationalists. A man who publicly professed his justified critique of this country's racial discrimination is being treated to the worst of its citizenry because of ignorance, hypocrisy, and a lack of education. Whoever continues to say he should be ashamed, or anything like that, should reserve that kind of talk for themselves and their cabal of idiots.
For this kind of unfounded, asinine hatred, and for so many other reasons, I've no problem saying that this entire country should be ashamed.
II. An open Twitter letter to Heidi Russo, Colin Kaepernick's biological mother.
@Heidirn1: This thread is for you, because you really jumped off the tower w/your response to your son. I’m adopted. By ethnic make-up, I’m an Afro-Colombian adopted into a working class Irish family in New York City. My [biological] mother gave me up because she wanted to give me a chance to have a better life in better conditions. Like you, she made a choice based on the difficulty of a complicated pregnancy and personal life choices. Unlike you, one main reason for my particular adoption was because I was the 4th son to be born out of wedlock. My mother tried to support her three other children, but knew that I would face a sad outcome if I stayed. Today, I am able to be as outspoken about issues like racism and injustice [because] my adoptive [White] family respects my views. By giving up your right to your child, you seem to have forgotten that you have revoked your right to discipline or reprimand him. Even if you still had that right, your son’s desire to speak out against injustice is not, nor should it ever be, cause for rebuke. You’re still here, and you’ve chosen to be “ashamed” of someone speaking their mind about a serious issue. Several, actually. I can’t speak to what my biological mother would say in response to my beliefs, but I do know that if after not seeing her for years she went on the kind of tirade you did over Colin’s statement, I’d have to immediately check her. Consider yourself lucky that the only response you’re getting is from ppl like me. The only person who should be ashamed here is you, ma’am. Chastising your son’s beliefs proves your shame of his existence. I stand with your son, as a fellow adopted Man of Color, [because] being brought into privilege does not negate global oppression. Nor does benefitting from that privilege obfuscate the need to speak out against and restructure a system built on that oppression. It’s clear you made your choices a long time ago, choices you’ve admitted to having to live with for the rest of your life. You made a choice this week, also. I pray you don’t spend the rest of your life regretting it. But the way things are looking...