Thursday, September 30, 2004

Economic Disparity and Race

Recently I came across an article discussing a report proposing an Economic Development Plan for Detroit. The article seemed to point to many of the tensions which exist in my neighborhood in Los Angeles. Namely, that in addition to the economic disparity between white and non-white population and the tensions associated with it, there are also tensions between different minority groups. This becomes exacerbated when one group is in charge politically, whether majority or not, and the other is not sufficiently politically represented. Locally, the area around King/Drew hospital is 60% Latino, but that community is in conflict with the African-American community who control many of the local resources. In Detroit, the populations are very different, but the issues are similar.

What surprised me most about the Freep (the Free Press) article was the following comment:

They say they've seen their share of discrimination, going back to the 1930s, when about 90 percent of the city's approximately 45,000 Latinos -- mostly Mexicans -- returned to Mexico as part of a U.S. government-sponsored repatriation program.

So I looked up the reference to "Mexican repatriation" and found this link at the University of Texas at Austin Website. It appears that during the great depression our government decided to boost the economy by getting rid of those pesky foreigners. Problem number one? Oh, many of them were CITIZENS.

Not that such racist reactions happening during the Coolidge, Hoover, and Roosevelt Presidencies surprise me, but it seems that some of this attitude is mirrored to day. In fact, I see opposition, ala Pat Buchanan, to the President's "Visiting Worker" program to have similar undertones. In my opinion, coming from recent immigrant stock, immigration is what makes this country great! Let's not have, as Kerry would say, a Back Door repatriation program by tightening the borders for those who wish to lead productive lives in America. How about we worry about the criminals and potential terrorists and minimize the red tape for those who wish to participate in our society?

I know that what I have said is reductive and would require a great deal of unpacking to get to a workable solution, but my sentiment stands.

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