“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”
Well, not so much, especially in Arizona, but then, they can’t see Lady Liberty from there. Wretched refuse. Rather stark reference, but most were. And all were ‘yearning to breathe free.’
My grandfather also yearned to breathe free as he was the oldest child living in the home among 7 younger brothers and sisters. His two oldest brothers went off to become priests and his next oldest hopped onto a boat 10 years earlier and landed in New York. His father ran a mercantile store in a small village and my grandfather knew that he would spend most of his life in that dingy store. So he bolted at age 22 and joined his brother in New York. Thus I am the grandson of an immigrant.
My grandfather knew not one word of English when he landed, yet at that time most in New York spoke a language other than English. Interestingly, even today there are entire sections of that city whose residents speak English as their second language, or third.
Lucky for me, he was European, northern European to be more exact. He was white and ‘Nordic-looking’ and so he and I blend in very nicely in the pool, literally and figuratively. I read a story on CNN by Christian Lander who writes the blog titled, Stuff White People Like. His CNN piece is called, “How we became white people.” When I saw the link on CNN I thought it was a science piece on melanin percentages, but it was, rather, sociology.
No, Lander is not a neo-Nazi skinhead nor a Tea Party activist; he calls himself a liberal. And surely this last part of his essay proves where his values are. He writes, “What I hope this census will force the country to deal with is the fact that white immigrants like me will never again make up the majority of people that come to this country. America is not getting whiter, it will never get whiter.”
Today is May Day- a traditional European holiday honoring the working class, a day set aside to celebrate those who do the hard, dirty, dangerous physical labor for our society. This year in America, some Tea Party enthusiasts are holding their ‘own’ May Day meetings to ‘take this day away from the socialists.’ Their ignorance is obvious and blatant.
Down in Arizona the white folks are all puffed-up about their new ‘show me your papers’ law. They are extremely defensive about it, too. It’s not racial profiling, they claim, but of course it is. At breakfast with friends yesterday morning, I told the assembled group that I want to drive to Arizona and dress up as a Mexican and walk down the street to see if I might be asked, “Zee papers, please!” They all laughed noting my Nordic features.
So, back to the anti-May Day gatherings of the tea-sippers. I wonder how many of them had a nice breakfast this morning? Perhaps a cup of coffee, some fresh strawberries or a banana or some pineapple, a sprinkle of sugar?. Who picked the fruit? The coffee beans? The sugar cane?
Laborers, of course, and the fruit and sugar cane? Illegals? Undocumented workers? Mexicans? Probably. And guess what group of white folks would bitch if those strawberries cost $8 a quart? And $15 coffee and $7 sugar and $6 pineapple.
Happy May Day to one and all!