Currently reading: Anarcho-Syndicalism: Theory and Practice by Rudolf Rocker.
I recently finished War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America’s Colony by Nelson Denis, a must-read for those who are interested in understanding Puerto Rico’s history and relationship with the United States. In a few words, we were referred to as “mongrels” and incapable of self-governance. This dehumanization created the justification by politicians and businessmen to take over the island and exploit the land as well as its people.
I am grateful to take on this book as an Afro-Latino man who knew very little about Puerto Rican history. This work helped me understand that there is a war against us. By us, I mean all people of color. The same tactic of dehumanization is still utilized in the present. We need to look no further than the way our government describes my fellow Hispanics: rapists, drug dealers, gang members, etc. By associating Hispanics with crime, the government is stripping undocumented immigrants of their humanity by presenting them as brutes capable only of heinous crimes, not as families seeking a better life.
The Trump administration utilized this rationale to lock people up in concentration camps. And before anybody tries to tell me that they are not camps, academics agree with that term usage. Camps or detention facilities, the point is we are locking up kids and treating them like animals. This kind of relegation to Other status is not just being imposed on those seeking asylum; we also see it with citizens.
Just a few days ago, we saw the president tell four congresswomen of color to go back to where they came from. I watched with horror as people, including some of color, agreed with these remarks. We as people of color will never be welcome in this country. Look at AOC, Omar, Tlaib, and Pressley. These brilliant women are rightful citizens who were duly elected to the House of Representatives. Despite 3/4 of the squad being born in the United States, and one being a naturalized citizen, our president still sends the message that they do not belong here. And to add insult to injury, when asked if he is concerned that people saw the tweets as racist, Trump responded, “It does not concern me because many people agree with me.” I saw this for myself in my Facebook feed and on Twitter.
The support for Trump’s remarks sends a disturbing message: we as people of color will never belong here. Even as citizens, there are people like Trump who think we need to go back from whence we came if we do not tout the same blind nationalism. My response to that is simple: the purest form of love is the kind that praises when it is warranted and constructively criticizes when it wants to improve things for all parties involved. I pray the squad continues to show its love for the United States by constantly seeking ways to improve this country. As demonstrated by the xenophobic rhetoric and the concentration camps, there is a lot of work to be done.