Keeping the Lower 50% in their Place: Vampires at the Border

Reuters reported that Americans are deeply worried that undocumented immigration is threatening U.S. traditional beliefs, customs and the nation’s economy – an amazing overwhelming majority — eighty-six percent of Republicans and 70 percent of Americans share this bias.

To get the full significance the article should be read concurrently with Noam Chomsky’s interview on the Israeli-Palestinian question on Democracy Now. Chomsky analyzes the effects of the Israeli invasion and occupation of the Gaza and the West Bank on the people. He makes the point that the occupier controls even the calorie intake of children rationing them just enough calories to survive but no more.

I posted the Chomsky interview on Facebook, and got the following comment: “Just like wage slavery here in the US, for the most part they know exactly how much things cost and exactly how they should pay (Mexican) laborers so that they barely survive, and moreover have them psychologically wanting more money which means more work, more stress, less education and critically, they will spend less family time… hence we then classically see gangs, drug use, pregnancy, exploited raza etc.”

The truth be told, the super-structure functions to control society and insure class divisions. Take the case of Arizona – the ruling elite class destroyed Mexican American Studies for the purpose of control and profit.  Legislators were paid to pass an agenda initiated by the Koch brothers and ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) for the purpose of keeping corporate taxes low and filling up privatized prisons with undocumented immigrants. In to accomplish this end, they eliminated successful educational programs and make sure Mexican American students would not succeed in school.

It is not a secret that Mexican Americans are becoming a majority in Arizona. This is a threat to white power and in order to keep Mexicans in their place they have to remain uneducated and uncritical. Like the rationing of calories education is rationed to the poor – just enough for them to survive but not flourish.

To maintain this hegemony the ruling elite must have popular support.  In the United States fear has been a popular method of dividing the working and middle classes. In the case of immigration Mexicans and Latinos have been demonized and stereotyped as dangerous and incapable of learning.

The process is insidious. The ruling elite know that the best method of keeping the poor down is to keep parents are unemployed, earning less than the minimum wage. It has the same effect as controlling students’ diets. They can only afford starches that lead to obesity and diabetes. Diets depend on money and the poor can rarely afford protein.  Thus diet affects school performance and success.

For the system to work, it is essential to create a pecking order. This is done through fear and the  belief that the undocumented families are “threatening U.S. traditional beliefs and customs.” This makes possible laws such as Arizona’s SB 1070 and HB 2281.

Scaring people to death plays a role similar as the horror movies of the eighties that were constructed by Cold War paranoia and the migration of blacks and browns to suburbia. First it was the Russians are coming, the vampires are coming, and now by the terrorists and the “illegals” are coming.

During the 1960s, we became educators because we wanted to do something about the high school dropout rate among Chicana/o youth. While we had some successes, the corporate controlled structure responded by dividing us into those with a green card and those who have the document. They divided us into the upper 50 percent of Latinos and the lower 50 percent. This has allowed the school dropout rate among Mexican Americans and Latinos to remain high and accessibility to higher education for the lower half to worsen.

This is no accident. The most innovation pedagogy and special programs have been scuttled. No longer if there an effort to recruit and train minority teachers to teach in barrio schools. Hope has been replace by a system where success is measured by tests.

Up until twenty years ago it seemed as if we were making progress. But corporations said they were paying too many taxes and convinced the public that it was fair to shift the cost of social production to the working and middle classes. Higher education like food is relative to family resources.

Daniel Fisher  in a 2012 Forbes Magazine,“Poor Students Are the Real Victims of College Discrimination” stated that, “Income, not race, is the real determining factor in higher education today. Millions of otherwise-qualified high school students aren’t attending college, either because they can’t afford it or because the admissions system screens them out.” Although it was a provocative article, the author missed the point that race and income in America are synonymous and economic status is hereditary.

Fisher’s own data proves this:  “While 79% of students born into the top income quartile in the U.S. obtain bachelor’s degrees, only 11% of students from bottom-quartile families graduate from four-year universities, according to Postsecondary Education Opportunity. Put another way, about 55% of the bachelor’s degrees awarded in the U.S. went to students from top-quartile families with 2010 income above $98,875; 9.4% of those degrees went to students with family income below $33,000.”

Everyday students are relying more on loans.  This shift will worsen social mobility for the poor (the lower half of the Mexican/Latino community) who depend on higher education as an escape. One can only wonder what will happen if and when government grants such as the Pell grant are eliminated.

Scholars like Fisher are part of the problem mystifying the causes: “At elite law schools like Yale and Harvard Law, 60% of the incoming students tend to come from the top 10% of the socioeconomic spectrum, Sander says, while only 5% come from the bottom half.”  What is he saying?

The principle that the ability to go on to four year colleges is based on class is nothing new. In the 1960s we often raised the question of class, but only to be corrected by the cheerleaders who dismissed criticisms claiming that in America there was unprecedented accessibility to higher education. Community colleges gave everyone a second chance and was free to all.

The house of cards has come tumbling down and the chickens have come home to roost: “In fall 2009, more than 7.5 million students were enrolled at two-year colleges in the United States. This figure reflects a rapid expansion in two-year college enrollment over the past decade, with an increase of more than one-third (34%) between 1999 and 2009. The majority (57%) of two-year college enrollees in fall 2009 were enrolled part-time.” Zooming tuition and increased demand has ended the illusion of a pathway for people to the middle class.

So why do we take it? Fear keeps the cheerleaders under the illusion that they are better than the vampires. They believe that somehow American traditional beliefs, customs and the economy are the best. This illusion is breaking down, however, and many Americans are now aware that they are two payments from being homeless. Some are questioning the vampires are real and realize that an ugly side of American values is greed.

by Dr. R. Acuña

This entry was posted in AmeriKKKa, Aztlan, California, Chicana/o, Chicana/o Activism, Chicana/o Community, Chicana/o History, Chicana/o Identity, Chicana/o Ideology, Chicana/o Politics, Chicana/o Power, Chicana/o Studies, Chicana/o Youth, Chicano Movement, Community, Decolonization, Education, History, Indigenous, Knowledge, Land, Language, Mexican, Movimiento, MuXer, Palabra, Politics, Racism, Resistance, Social justice, Solidarity, Unity. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Keeping the Lower 50% in their Place: Vampires at the Border

  1. Samet says:

    white feminists need to SHUT THE FUCK UP and let us say what we have to say. they need to stop sieinclng and suppressing the voices of women of color, and invalidating our claims by any means possible. they need to allow us to speak for ourselves and to stop claiming frantically that they have the absolute knowledge and authority to decide what all women’s oppressions are. they need to really start HEARING what we are saying, instead of denying us any validity just because our statements go against their theories about what struggles are worth fighting. they need to realize that what might be the reality for them, does NOT by default mean that women of color also have to deal with that SAME reality only. they need to stop claiming that gender struggles trump’ [what a simplistic, one-dimensional term] any other struggles for ALL WOMEN, and basing it solely on their own, limited experience of oppression. they need to not violate our space and allow us to define our existence and struggles without calling us stupid, without resorting to desperate and ludicrous ad hominem attacks on our personalities, our writing and expression style, our choice of vocabulary or our un-academic, un-pretentious, un-high-culture, simplistic 9d language.listen up, white sisters 9d:get over yourselves. essentially, it is not HOW we say it, but WHAT we say that’s important. and sometimes you’re NOT the ones who know the absolute, irrefutable truth. the least you could do (if you really don’t want to be perceived by us as just another oppressor’) is to say, ok, i might not understand exactly what you’re talking about because i haven’t lived as a woman of color, and the only oppression i’ve ever encountered is patriarchy. however, i understand that your life experiences as a person of color leads you to form your own identities and your own resistances, and i respect that. and i’m not going to jam my shit down your throats trying to silence and erase you. and i’m not going to claim until i turn blue that you’re not enlightened enough and not conscious enough to define your own reality. 9dfight against patriarchy does NOT equal all other fights for everybody. for YOU it does, because that’s the only conceivable cause for you all to unite (being on top of the socially-constructed racial hierarchy and not having to be seen as more exotic’, more submissive, more agreeable, more sexualized, more oppressible, more coercible, more victimizable, more tempting to rape and humiliate on a daily basis). but that’s NOT the case for the people who have had to fight against something much greater and much more mind-numbing our whole lives. gender oppression alone does NOT explain the plight of women of color, as opposed to that of yours. if you ask us, the first oppressor any conscious woman of color would identify off the bat, would be White Supremacy. and want it or not, you do NOT have to fight against it because you ARE PART OF IT. and by denying us our voices and by attacking our words, you are only reinforcing and proving to us that the fight against White Domination (be it in the form of male or female) is ultimately our single, most important purpose. because unlike you, we are always viewed as strippers OF COLOR, mothers OF COLOR, lesbians OF COLOR, activists OF COLOR, professionals OF COLOR, with all the accompanying circumstances and social stigma attached to that. and this of color’ suffix changes a whole lot of shit for us on many different levels.i never identity myself as just a *woman* “ my fundamental identity in this world is *woman of color*, which already, in and of itself, signifies that i have at least two oppressors “ white supremacy and patriarchy. Moreover, for me the patriarchy is always secondary to white supremacy. and in most of my personal fights men ARE my comrades “ my blood brothers, my fathers, my uncles, my cousins, and all brothers OF COLOR. we together bear the burden of being racially profiled, generalized, stereotyped and humiliated. we together understand what it feels like NOT TO BE WHITE, we together fight it, hate it and support each other in spirit against it. there’s no male racism’ and female racism’ to me, there’s just one, atrocious, omnipresent, demoralizing racism that we (women and men of color) understand and fight in concert. and in a lot of ways, it is YOU, white feminists, who i have to fight against in order to reassert my position in the society “ much like in this very debate, which i find absolutely is YOUR restless anxiety to always be right that’s dividing us. your truth is NOT women of color’ truth. period. just because you’re not aware of something doesn’t mean it’s not there. because you haven’t lived in a certain way doesn’t mean that nobody does. because you haven’t experienced something doesn’t mean it’s not real. because you find something incomprehensible and unrealistic, doesn’t mean it’s bullshit.and for those who are much too quick to label us whiney’ and to dismiss our own stories of OUR OWN TRUTH as absurd, i have only this to say: if anyone is whiney’, it must be you because all you can see and focus on is your poor, oppressed, repressed, misunderstood, manipulated, denied, defied, misinterpreted little selves. no-one’s had it as hard as you have; therefore, your oppression is the only AUTHENTIC one, right?

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