Monday, June 02, 2014

A Spatial Quandary

If I’m undocumented, technically I have a temporary work permit, what say, if any, do I have in the community(ies) I have lived in, in the last 23 years? I ask myself this question because it was asked of me, paraphrasing here, over twitter in loop with an on-going conversation about my online actions/words directed toward anyone not from the community, i.e. hipsters. Using the stereotypical definition of a hipster, it also raises questions on racism on my end toward anyone that isn’t a minority and in my view, appears “white.”

It’s a slippery slope that I’m still balancing and defining clearly for myself. Given how easy is it is to hate and talk shit, specially though the veil of the Internet, spitting venom toward others I deem the creators of problems that affect me, makes me look and come off no different than any other racist, bigot, homophobe, xenophobe out there ranting about how immigrants (mostly Latino/a) are ruining their country and that they should go back where they came from. I kid you not. It may be in my own way, but I never miss a chance to shit talk hipsters and demand that they stay outta my neighborhood. Thus, am I replicating the same kind of hate that is continually hurled toward immigrant communities or is there some sort of pass/loop hole that I have to justify my "hate" toward “hipsters” and if I’m gonna be real about it son, white people?

As an immigrant to this country, the community I first lived in, Boyle Heights, has always served as an adoptive home ala Superman. In my 23 years of living here, I’ve also had the privilege to live in similar communities and cities because my parents followed work around like that. But every other Sunday, my mom, sisters, and I would get on the bus and go back to BH to visit my mom’s aunt. No matter how far away I was, I was always near by.

In the last 6 years or so, I have had the opportunity to report, blog and write about the neighborhood I love and live in. I’ve also had the opportunities to see, hear, and touch its history through numerous individuals and resources. Shit, I’m well versed enough to give tours, which I have, to anyone who isn’t familiar with the place. By putting in work to understand, respect, and continue the work and traditions before me, a sense of entitlement is created, that and depending on the individual, leads to the dark side of the force. (Humor me here)

There are arguments and justifications to be made for both sides of this coin, but it all comes down on me and how I decide to move forward. I don’t deny that the tang of my actions/comments online and off are veiled through the use of “hipster” to actually mean "white people". Yet, I also know that there’s an undertow of classism missing from these conversations as well.

This would be the part of the conversation in which I would go into a bit of the history of what kind of traumas and experiences lead minorities to be inclined to hate a specific group of people ala the X-men, but ain’t no body got time for that. Christopher Columbus, the Catholic Church, colonialism, imperialism, the bracero program, NAFTA, Ronald Reagan or any of the other atrocities in history I have missed. There’s no shortage to justify hatred toward this country and the people that perpetuate these acts of violence.

Without a firm grasp on the institutional violence that leads to such atrocities, and seeing who is behind those institutions, it’s easy for me to point and hate “white people". That kind of mentality is ingrained through pop-culture as well. It’s only through critical thinking and reflecting on myself that the fog of the mind is lifted and one can think clearly and rationally. For me, it has to do with the maturing of age really. You talk to me a few years ago and I wouldn’t be having the kind of conversations I’m having now. It’s been a growing process.

Now adays I don’t find myself blaming anything on anyone unless I’m confidant about what I’m saying or more often than now, I’m just trying to make a fucking joke. It never gets easier owning up to something, but it’s a critical part of the process. Just as I learned to not be homophobic and sexist, learning to not be a racist ass hole (toward “white” people) is a continual process.

I’m not even sure what I wrote makes any sense because I started drinking tequila half way through, but it also doesn’t have to. I write for myself while adding another page to the over all story I have been sharing online for the last 10 years. I treasure the community I live and I want to preserve and give back after soo much has been shared with me. Legalities not withstanding, they can’t prevent me from continuing to volunteer, being involved in the growth of the neighborhood and writing about how beautiful it is.

That’s not to say that I won’t call out anyone who tries to come in and profit from it without having put in work themselves. Boyle Heights has been a historically diverse community, and while the majority of folks that live here now are Latinos/as, what’s not to say it can't be diverse again. All people need to know is, whether it’s BH or any other community, you have to come with respect and dignity. Learn it’s history, be part of it and contribute. You come right like that and it won’t matter what race or color skin tone you have because you’ll be part of the community.