Thursday, May 29, 2008

Juan Crow

I first heard Roberto Lovato speak on Juan Crow back in January. At first, I thought it was just a witty, satirical analysis on the current hysteria surrounding undocumented workers. Reading more into it, it's much more than satire.

In his piece in The Nation, he writes:
The toll this increasingly oppressive climate has taken on Mancha represents but a small part of its effects on non-citizen immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, and other Latinos. Mancha and the younger children of the mostly immigrant Latinos in Georgia are learning and internalizing that they are different from white--and black--children not just because they have the wrong skin color but also because many of their parents lack the right papers. They are growing up in a racial and political climate in which Latinos' subordinate status in Georgia and in the Deep South bears more than a passing resemblance to that of African-Americans who were living under Jim Crow.

Call it Juan Crow: the matrix of laws, social customs, economic institutions and symbolic systems enabling the physical and psychic isolation needed to control and exploit undocumented immigrants. Listening to the effects of Juan Crow on immigrants and citizens like Mancha ("I can't sleep sometimes because of nightmares," she says. "My arms still twitch. I see ICE agents and men in uniform, and it still scares me") reminds me of the trauma I heard among the men, women and children controlled and exploited by state violence in wartime El Salvador. Juan Crow has roots in the US South, but it stirs traumas bred in the hemispheric South.

Read more here.

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