Here is an interesting essay in The Advocate by Jasmyne Cannick of the National Black Justice Coalition.
Her point is that we as a nation shouldn’t be focused on immigration reform when we haven’t finished establishing equal treatment under the law for some of our own legal citizens.
Although she makes some excellent points about hypocrisy, I find the approach of pitting disenfranchised communities against each other disturbing, to say the least. Although they are obviously not comparable in a number of ways, the scapegoating of GLBT people and the scapegoating of primarily Latino undocumented people have certain elements in common, most notably the fact that opportunists find both populations to be a vulnerable target.
The rhetoric used to dehumanize the day laborers in Herndon was remarkably like the rhetoric used to dehumanize us during the public school drama policy controversy last year (and the projected ‘bearing of false witness’ leading up to the amendment referendum this fall). In many of the public comments one could simply substitute “gay” for “illegal” and not miss a beat: “They” are endangering our children. “They” are introducing diseases. “They” are dirty. “We” are disgusted and afraid and uncomfortable because we have to see “them.”
We’ve seen this over and over, and it never turns out well. The white women at Seneca tried to exclude the black women, telling them that their rights would come “later.” Mainstream gay activists tried to exclude trans people from non-discrimination legislation, saying that trans-inclusive legislation wouldn’t pass, so go to the back of the bus and be quiet, please.
Is our advocacy really just about us, or do we want human rights and freedom from dehumanization for everyone? When the forces targeting us are at the same time targeting another group of people using the same rhetoric, that seems like a big red flag, with flashing lights. And a siren. It says that we are one human family.