Another Side to Race and Immigration

Linked with The BLACK CoMMentator.

Published on Znet, by Bill Fletcher, July 30, 2007.

… The public face of immigration in the USA is not a rainbow; it is brown. Don’t get me wrong. People from Asia, Africa, Europe AND Latin America are migrating to the USA, among other places. Yet in the popular media the portrayal of the immigrant is usually that of a Latino. Periodically one sees the face of an Asian or African. Rarely, unless one is discussing the Russian mafia, does the European face of immigration come to be unveiled.

This deserves exploring. If one goes to New York City, for instance, one will find that East European immigrants have made significant in-roads in the construction industry as both documented and undocumented workers. In fact, much of the work that has been carried out to rid buildings of deadly asbestos has been carried out by East European and Latino immigrants. Yet, East European immigrants seem to be almost invisible.


When anti-immigrant forces mobilize, they focus on creating a ‘Berlin Wall’ between the USA and Mexico. I have not heard about any walls keeping East Europeans out. I have not heard about stopping the East Europeans at the borders, when they exit planes or ships, or perhaps cross over from Canada …

… Were there to be a serious discussion of immigration in the USA, it would have to address why there is a differential in treatment between East European and Latino immigrants in the public mind and in reality. There would need to be a discussion as to who is and who is not threatening the jobs of non-immigrants–if anyone. There would need to be a discussion as to why nearly 200,000,000 people have been in the process of migrating to places outside of their homelands and what that says about contemporary capitalism.

Yet those who scapegoat the Latino want no such discussion. As long as the face of immigration– documented and undocumented–is an ‘evil’ Latino we are absorbed in a madness out of which there is no escape and for which there are no answers. (full text).

(BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member, Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a labor and international writer and activist, and the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum).

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