Thursday, July 05, 2012

I don't like Jose Antonio Vargas

Why? I've actually been trying to figure that out myself the more I talk to folks about it. Fact of the matter is that I've had numerous conversations amongst friends in the social justice circles about why I don't like Jose Antonio Vargas. As someone who is also undocumented, most folks assume that I have nothing but praise and adornment for him because he came out publicly about his status for the first time in the New York Times.

On the contrary, when I read that article, the last things that were on my mind were thoughts of him being a hero to the undoc movement and/or brave for deciding to come out so publicly, but there in lies the root of his multifaceted announcement to the world and my own roots in why I don't like him.

My short answer would be that I just don't like the guy. Me cay gordo, but that's not an answer. Thus, my long form answer is just that, long. Like I mentioned earlier, having discussions with friends has helped me pin down my own feelings of why I don't like the guy. I'm sure he's an awesome guy if you get to know him personally, really I do. I've met him once or twice. Seen him give speeches and talks. I've heard and read about the things he does by simply just being himself, another undocumented immigrant. But's that not why I'm hatin'.

On the contrary, I agree that what he is doing is important to the movement. He's taken the conversation about undoc immigrants in the US where most of us could never take it. He's gay and Asian, which all highlight the intersectionalities of the movement because not everyone is from Mexico or heterosexual. His story did take the conversation to another level because of who he is. An award winning journalist who lied about his status so he could make a career for himself, and quite a career it is. He's reached other undoc immigrants and individuals who would have other wise never heard of him or his immigration issue and connected them to the movement.

That's what I say when I'm around folks who mention/talk about him and the movement. But don't get it twisted, while I say those things because they're the truth, I also hold back a lot more criticism of him because it's part of the stupid games that must be played. In order for the movement to work, lies have to be told so folks can get along and work together. But I'm also getting tired of having to do that.

I never liked the fact that when he put out his story, he had a website and a campaign ready to go. Dude was making deal left and right. He was wheeling and dealing. But I'm not hating on that either, he's clever enough to milk his shit for all it's worth and get as much money and publicity as he can to make his shit happen. That I actually understand because I do the same shit. No one is going to pay my bills but me and I'll hustle however I can to make it happen.

And while the more I continue to rant, the more I should like Sam from Green eggs and Ham, it all comes down to Jose being who he is, Jose. My dislike of him doesn't come from his skills as a writer/journalist, his celebrity or any of that stuff. I don't like Jose because he's made out to be the savior of a movement that has been around long before him or I ever came into the picture.

The mother fucker writes one essay about his life and suddenly he's the face of immigration reform? The Dream Act? A working professional that 'breaks' the stereotype about what being an immigrant actually means because America would much rather give him legal status than a house keeper or construction worker who are working 12 hr days to support their family.

Nah, that's not fair to everyone who has worked and contributed to this movement. But this isn't about him being at marches or getting arrested for the movement, it's about others, especially those within the movement, putting him up on a pedestal of sorts and praising him for what he did. Thanking him sort of giving him a fucking blow job.

And I won't front either, parts of me do hate because the guy is all over the place, talking about how we have to change the conversation on immigration reform and all that jazz. Really? Change the conversation? While he was off trying to be a journalist, others were paving the roads that have helped thousands of others like myself go to school and become part of the fight for immigration reform/dream act. They were starting support groups in colleges, creating spaces were undoc students could feel safe and know that they're not alone in their struggles.

No, while he was off making a career for himself, others were putting in the work on what eventually became deferred action. But then again, that's not fair to him is it? To expect someone to be part of the movement just because they're undoc is trifle as shit I don't even do myself. If you wanna be a part of it, you are more than welcome, but if you wanna do you, that's also fine as well.

There's no one simple answer as to why I don't like Jose Antonio Vargas, if anything I was just getting it off my chest because I've been chewing on the idea for this post for a long time. Writing is my process for analyzing and moving forward with things. And with this post, I'll do just that. To waste my energy and time just hatin' on anyone, is redundant. That energy  could be used for something better.

But I just had to make it clear, I don't like Jose Antonio Vargas. Just like I don't like green eggs and ham, Sam I am.


Anonymous said...

What about the fact that when the Napolitano memo came out he was quick to make a petition to thank Obama. What about thanking the undocumented youth who risked deportation and undoccupied OFA offices?

Or what about the fact he charges groups 3k for appearances?

Or what about the fact that his org isn't a non for profit?

Jose Vargas is all types of shade. It's a shame some undocumented folk are quick to give him a pass.

We have to hold our own accountable!

Neil said...

So...what it comes down to is you're jealous of his receiving publicity, and capitalizing on it. He's doing good and profiting from it too. Is there no justice?

Mala said...

I'm so glad you wrote this. I have old beef with JAV over something unrelated but yeah. I mea we all have to hustle but his hustle comes at the expense of so many others and yes, I think he is helping to promote this idealized version of a "good immigrant" which is problematic in so many ways. A mi tampoco me cae bien por eso I don't link to him or tweet his stuff out. He has a whole machine behind him, too many others no tienen na

Anonymous said...

You're essentially making the same over simplified arguement that anti-immigration Americans make against immigrants- "I don't like them cause i just don't. Even tho there is all this evidence why I shouldn't, and even all the things I think I don't like about them, I can understand why they do them all." hating for no reason is pointless and petty. It doesn't help your movement.

Anonymous said...

First of all, he is not the face of the movement. I would like a link from interviews where Mr. Vargas, as you said, becomes the face of the DREAM Act.

"While he was off trying to be a journalist, others were paving the roads that have helped thousands of others like myself go to school and become part of the fight for immigration reform/dream act."

Have you thought about HIS bills and his welfare? Are you gonna tell me if you had the opportunity to do a job, which you went to school for, you would turn it down simply because it doesn't apply to the movement?
Another thing is that others have worked even HARDER than you in this movement, and they are not writing blogs about how much more they have contributed than you.

This piece is just a rampant piece of feelings and not facts. You cannot criticize someone for looking out for themselves, while bringing the movement to a new light (Yes, he did!)

Anonymous said...

This is the perfect example of why immigrants do not succeed in life, because instead of helping the movement to make it stronger they keep throwing g rocks at each other. Vargas does not qualify for Deferred Action and he's still around. What if he is getting profits for it? Somehow he has to earn money.
Therefore, that explanation of "I don't like him because I don't like him" is so lame. You should help instead of being so negative. How do we expect to get the right help when we destroy each other. Im so proud that a journalist is out there

santosamaru said...

just do what you can do man .. that its.

loveandhatela said...

When he came out as undocumented i said to myself and others, "why didn't his grandparents or employers sponsor him?"
I understand what he is doing now, its significant and to a point i respect that, but i too don't like him.
Lo que me cala a mi mas es que llego tan alto en su educacion y su profesion como periodista pero como es que no pudo areglar su situacion migratoria...hazme el pinche favor! as if.
Pretty sure he has a secret account overseas full of money for if and when he gets deported back to the Philippines.
And this also goes to show that in the end no one has your back like you yourself. You have to be a bit selfish and egotistical to survive.

Anonymous said...

I agree, he should be giving way more recognition to the immigration rights movements that have come before him. However, I'm not sure he can choose being the so-called "face" of a movement.

The media likes him because he's one of their own, and he doesn't fit the undocumented stereotype. He's a moderately successful, pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps kind of guy who has no kids [aka, anchor babies to the bigots out there] and doesn't quote-unquote need welfare to get by. He's the American's perfect immigrant, so he makes a good case to those trying to get the general public to accept us as human beings with rights.

However, he is a little older than the rest of us, and unknown to the rest of us, us Asians have quite a bit of stigma and shame attached to being undocumented. Maybe it wasn't prudent for him to come out and be vocal about his status, joining the ranks of whatever immigrant rights movement was around him. Maybe he was dealing with depression, as a lot of us do, and couldn't stomach the idea of risking deportation.

Then again, I could be talking out of the side of my mouth, and he could just be someone trying to capitalize on his skills to pay his bills. Aren't we all, though?

Ken Montenegro said...

This is really timely; JAV is an opportunist and people don't want to say that. He also presents a bad picture of asian american activism because he got as far as he could on the labor of others but, once he hit a brick wall, NOW, he decides to come out with himself as the face of undocumented immigrants.

This might be the most shameful part: he didn't have any connection to the movement and now he's at the front of it. Suddenly, he's an expert substantively and experientially on what it means to be undocumented and what needs to be done.

Finally, I'm glad the issue of his celebrity has been raised. A movement is massess of people, most whom never appear before the media. Once we are gullible enough to ingest a movement based on celebrity rather than solidarity we eviscerate our movement of its power. In the same fell swoop we defecate on the history of social movements reducing them to one person.

History is littered by the failed moments when we chose celebrity over substance (nee Obama).

JAV is an opportunist and it remains to be seen if he will use this opportunity to build a movement or continue with the trajectory of building himself.

Anonymous said...

I think you don't like him cuz he is doing everything you wish you did or can still do.

He is being exactly what a lot of DREAMers seem to want, to be a good self sustaining American.

"We often hate those whom we see having similarities we ourselves don't like to admit."
- Deepak Chopra

Anonymous said...

Crab mentality at it's best.

He is a journalist and is very well connected. Would you not love to have his level of experience. He is educated and is just using his experience to further the cause. Every team needs role players and you are one of them. Don't make this about your own insecurities.

cindylu said...

Honestly, the first time I saw you mention not liking him I thought it came from a place of jealousy and envy. I understand that it's more complicated and it's important to be critical of someone who some see as leading a movement he just jumped in to. I don't see him that way, but like you I've been following and supporting the DREAM Act for 10+ years.

JAV didn't need to come out as undocumented to gain career advancement. Sure, few outside of journalism probably knew him, but he'd still reached some high honors quite young in his career.

JAV fits the narrative the media has been playing on for years about why the DREAM Act should be passed. It's very meritocratic and focuses on the top kids -- the valedictorians and salutatorians as opposed to the average B or C student who. It advances the American dream and the notion that anyone can (or should) be able to make it in this country. I can't stand that narrative.