Saturday, May 14, 2005

Fox: "Jobs not even blacks want do" + 299 Missing Black British Boys

So it's like this. The president of Mexico, Vicente Fox, who was supposed to represent a new era in his country's politics but who's turned out to be a dud, decides to appeal to a group of US business people in Mexico City to resurrect a guest worker/amnesty program for the millions of nationals from his country who are resident in the US without documentation or legal approval. We know he made some kind of deal with the Emperor W, not only because the mainstream media have reported it, but also because big business interests in the US benefit tremendously from cheap immigrant labor, W's closest friends, along with the Fringe Right, are the Corporatists, and W wants more Latino votes (and got more in the past election).
But the Emperor W has had to dance around that earlier agreement because of the 9/11 suicide attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, which pointed to, among other things, the bankruptcy of the immigration system. And the Emperor W has also backed off his earlier pro-amnesty stance because the right-wing elements of his party have decided they don't want the 10-12 million undocumented or illegal non-English-speaking arrivants, a good many of them mestizo and Indian people, a good many but not all of them from Mexico, being afforded the same kinds of amnesty opportunities that many of their own ancestors received. (If they were from Germany or Ireland or, let's say, Latvia, I doubt there'd as much opposition.) Because not all of the right-wingers can trace their ancestry to Charlemagne, like the Emperor W.

But anyways, Fox is meeting with these business leaders from Texas. Maybe they're Mexican-American or Latino, though I'd guess they're white folks. Maybe they're white-identified Latinos. I don't know. But I seriously doubt there are any Black folks, Black Americans, Black Mexicans, Black Latinos, self-identified Black anybody in the room, because as part of his plea, he stated that Mexican immigrants "do jobs that not even blacks want to do," so that's why the US has to resuscitate the guest-worker/amnesty program, and why W shouldn't sign into law the recently approved tougher new driver's license provisions or the extension of the "security" fence dividing the two countries. (Is it a fence, haven't the right-wingers also been talking about Pat Buchanan's proposed wall? And what about those armed Minutemen?) Unfortunately, Vicente Fox, your "friend and partner" W is planning to sign these riders to another bill into law, without blinking an eye. But back to Fox: Now, let's set aside for a minute that Mexico has its own Black people (thousands of them)--a marginalized population by many measures--some of whom are among the undocumented workers in the US. Let's also set aside the fact that the second largest group of self-identified Black Latinos in the US, according to the 2000 US Census, come from or have ancestry from Mexico.

Did Fox really need to make this statement? Whom was this supposed to convince or impress? The American business leaders? The Mexican press? The US press? The foreign press? The Mexican people? Mexican undocumented immigrants? Mexican legal immigrants? Mexican-Americans and other latinos? Americans? Blacks? See, he wanted to invoke a standard he was sure those business people would understand--we "blacks," the descendents of slaves, the "mudsills," no longer the largest "minority," are, in Fox's (and American society's) eyes, the absolutely lowest benchmark or standard. And if "blacks" don't want and won't take the jobs, then you know the jobs must be bad, but hey, you've got his fellow Mexican citizens who are willing to do them. And so America had better find a way to let them stay, because who else then will take them if the Mexicans are barred from working or sent back? Can't expect "blacks" to. Nor, one assumes, the thousands (millions?) of "other latinos/hispanics," "asians," "arabs," "native peoples," "others," and above all, not the "white" people! Lord knows, not them! Not only was Fox's statement offensive, to Black people (we're people, Vicente Fox, not just some nebulous figments of your rhetorical argument, we're in your country too) and Mexicans, but it was also just plumb ignorant.

First of all, many "blacks"--by which I assume he means African Americans, but let's take the the increasing number of Black people from north Africa and sub-Saharan African, from the various Caribbean nations, from Central and South America, from Europe, etc. as our example--do take extremely low-wage, exploitative jobs. They do work in tobacco fields, in orange groves, on farms, they do work in underpaying factories, they do serve as cooks and maids, and so on. There are more Mexican documented and undocumented immigrants now filling these roles across the country, but there are more immigrants from Mexico than any other group. Since NAFTA and Mexican governmental incompetence devastated whole sectors of the Mexican economy, and since Fox has been ineffectual in creating opportunities for vast numbers of his country of 100 million people, and since the border between the United States and Mexico is as porous as pumice (despite fence and border agents and militia men), and since despite the best (or worst) efforts of the Emperor, the US economy has not fallen apart, it stands to reason that this would be the destination for Mexicans seeking work opportunities, just as it's the destination for millions from other countries as well. But the truth of the matter is that many of the "blacks" who are not considered or do not consider themselves African American actually do take these jobs, and there are probably more who would if they could actually get here and not be deported.

As for African Americans, whom I believe Fox was referring to, many of us also take these jobs. Still. The last time I looked, there were poor African-American people working in all kinds of extremely low-wage, un-unionized jobs across the country, including taking care of white people, which has been the case since the 1600s. In the Chicago area. In northern New Jersey and New York. In the upper South. And so on. The Gaullist Bill Clinton decided he would "end welfare as we know it," and so that remains nothing more than a chimera for the right-wing to conjure up--these days, folks got to work or find some way to get by, after a certain period of time. As I said above, there are more Mexican undocumented immigrants in many of these positions, but they're not the only ones. So Fox's comments were not only insulting to African Americans, all the other "blacks" in this country, and his own fellow Mexican immigrants, they are just ignorant. But ignorance passing the lips of international leaders, especially about Black people, should hardly be surprising. Fox's very good friend, the Emperor W, once asked the President of Brazil, a country that has the largest Black and African-descended population outside of Africa, whether it "had blacks too?"

Now I wonder, since Fox obviously didn't think he said anything offensive ("jobs not even blacks want to do"), will he apologize? Will anyone in the Mexican media, which traditionally has demonstrated very little interest in the Black population or history of that country (despite the fact that one of its early presidents, Guerrero, was Black, that it had a sizable slave population in the late 1700s and early 1800s, and that one of its greatest heroes, Emiliano Zapata, also had African ancestry), press Fox on this? More importantly, what will the response from the Emperor W or his minions be? Will Condoleezza Rice (one of the "blacks"), the play-acting Secretary of State, request an apology from her Mexican counterpart? Will they remain silent and hope it blows over? Will it take a Black member of Congress (one of the "blacks") to call attention to Fox's ignorance? Will someone on the right (maybe even one of "the blacks") use this as part of their campaign to derail even sensible guest-worker/amnesty provisions? Since the mainstream US media has reported, will they now let it pass into silence, since it insults two groups they really couldn't give a damn about, the "blacks" and Mexicans?


Finally, on another note, I came across this extremely disturbing story, on Raw Story, in the London Evening Standard (via This is London): "Fears of Trade in Children as 300 Disappear." According to the article:

Scotland Yard today revealed it has been unable to trace all but two of 300 black boys aged four to seven reported missing from school in a three-month period.

Child welfare experts say the number highlights the scale of the trade in children brought to Britain as domestic servants and covers for benefit fraud.

The figure emerged through the murder inquiry following the discovery of a child's torso in the Thames in September 2001. The identity of the victim, named "Adam" by police, is not known but his background was traced to Nigeria, it is believed he died in a ritual sacrifice.

Say what? What is going on over there??? 299 Black boys go missing over a three-month period, and they can't be found? The "trade in children brought to Britain as domestic servants"? Huh? Didn't I just post something two days ago about "unforced labor" and servitude? Is there a public inquiry, let alone public outcry, over this?

Let me just say, there may be a perfectly reasonable explanation for this. Maybe these black boys--is it really only boys, and why?--belong to undocumented families that are trying to elude the immigration authorities, and so they've moved to other parts of Britain, or other countries in the EU, or gone back home, or something reasonable and not horrifying. I hope it's something reasonable, some explanation other than the gruesome one that appears in the article. I also plan to check some British Websites, and especially Black British Websites about this. And poet Christina Springer is over there with her family now; I know she's encountered hostility from the NHS when she was trying to get treatment for her infant son. (She's also encountered coldness from some Black Britons.) Maybe she's heard something it appears the mainstream media in the US haven't (yet?) picked up on.


  1. Millions of US children 'disappeared' the year after the IRS required SSN's for every dependant claimed. Maybe (I hope) these missing kids never existed and have now disappeared owing to some change in the Brittish law.

  2. Krepke, perhaps it was a technical or accounting error, but the article doesn't seem to indicate that. I hope it was though, and if the existed, which I think they did, I hope they're found.