La Profesora Abstraída

Weblog of Michelle Dion, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, at McMaster University. My blog has moved to Visit my other website.

Monday, May 16, 2005

One of the reasons I don't like Mexico

Racism. In a press conference with reporters, Fox tried to defend Mexican immigration to the United States by saying Mexican immigrants:
...están haciendo trabajos que ni siquiera los negros quieren hacer...
Or, Mexicans are doing the jobs that even the blacks don't want to do.

But what's worse, is when the leaders of the other parties denounced Fox's statement, they did so because:

El señalamiento del presidente Vicente Fox...fue reprobado por los diputados de PRI y PRD, quienes consideraron al jefe del Ejecutivo "inculto, racista y falto de sensibilidad para abordar un tema relacionado con las razas". Los legisladores reclamaron al mandatario una disculpa pública "porque su postura daña la dignidad de los mexicanos"....

El legislador consideró lamentable la posición del mandatario porque afecta la dignidad de millones de mexicanos que no han sido retenidos en el país por el injusto sistema económico que se vive a lo largo y ancho de la República. "Con su pronunciamiento, Vicente Fox se ubica en la postura de un digno hacendado de principios del siglo XX".

Their complaint about Fox is that his statement about the work that immigrants do in the U.S. hurts the dignity of Mexicans. And that his position is one of a hacienda owner at the beginning of the 20th century. Implicitly, the legislators are offended that Mexican immigrants would be compared to African-Americans in the United States. Such a comparison, to them, hurts the dignity of Mexicans.

In some regards, the racism isn't surprising given that the only exposure to African Americans that most Mexicans have is through television and movies, which often portray extreme stereotypes. And even supposed leftists are not immune. I once took a graduate level sociology class at a highly respected university in the D.F. with a faculty member who wrote columns for the leftist paper and dabbled in PRD politics. This professor, during class, told two of the most base/racist jokes about African Americans that I have ever heard. Really childish/stupid jokes. And everyone in class laughed. I was appalled.

Many fancy nightclubs will not let you in if you are too dark skinned. I've been waiting outside an after hours club and had several groups of Mexicans offer to let me join them, thinking that surely they will get in sooner with a white girl in their midst. You can also read an earlier post of mine about racism I witnessed at a Wal-Mart owned grocery story.

So, I'm afraid that the indignant legislators from the PRI and the PRD miss the point. They are worried about Fox being racist toward Mexicans with more indigenous heritage, but looking down on African Americans is clearly acceptable to them. Their own prejudices are so strong and socially acceptable that they can't see the offensiveness of their own position.

posted by Michelle @ 9:33 AM,


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