The “Border Beat” (June 13, 2008)

It’s Friday the 13th, and you want to know what scares me? Ignorance. The simple condition of not knowing or understanding scares me. Well, maybe that’s not it. It’s that condition placed in our particular context that I find scary. You see, not knowing is part of the human condition. We are learning animals, born not knowing or understanding but with the capacity to alter that status.

Here, in the context of the United States, we are a little too defensive about our human condition. From my perspective, we try to hide it more than we try to confront it and embrace the possibilities if has for us. We try to think we know all there is to know and, worse, that we know more than others. We also approach the process of learning not as we should–empathically and critically.

This condition is a prominent theme in my thinking lately, especially after spending the last day and a half reading blogs and news about Obama, race, immigration and deportation, and the emerging war against Chicano Studies that is taking place in Arizona. What we don’t understand is each other. We lack any true and useful shared language to have a meaningful dialogue on race in the U.S. We do not know how to think outside of ourselves or, perhaps even more usefully, how to engage ourselves in analyses of self-criticism. We have no humility of thought.

Here’s the “Border Beat” for the end of the week with some examples:

  • DC area Latinos hold a meeting to begin the process of teaching their local police departments what they don’t know–namely, Latinos and their negative experiences with the law (Washington Post);
  • Ruben Navarrette Jr. tells us about the “benefit of not being Mexican” (San Diego Union-Tribune);
  • PBS’s NewsHour reports on Arizona’s various and recent anti-immigration efforts in this audio file (NewsHour);
  • Controversy erupts when a community suggests naming a street after Cesar Chavez (CBS affiliate in Dallas/Fort Worth);
  • Ted Rall analyzes how Obama is a “token” as he congratulates Democrats for not being racists (Yahoo News); and
  • Too many people with too much power to gain platforms to speak are, quite simply and horrifically, afraid of Chicano Studies (Arizona Republic).

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