A non-boycotter’s guilt

As far as the eye can see I feel guilty.

I came to class today. I’m doing my office hours — one of my responsibilities as a GSA officer — too. In an hour or so, I’ll be making my way to north campus for my sociology class on ethnic minorities. We’ll be discussing Italians Then, Mexicans Now and America’s Newcomers and the Dynamics of Diversity. I haven’t read the first book and I might buy it before class. I’m a special reader for the latter. Skipping class might be a viable option if the classes met more than once a week and I hadn’t already missed Tuesday classes two weeks ago.

It is May 1st and just like last year, activists working for immigration reform have planned marches in downtown Los Angeles. They’re calling for no buying, no selling, no work and no school. They want people on the streets to show that we still want Congress to enact immigration reform that does not criminalize undocumented immigrants currently in the country and leads to a path to citizenship.

I support this movement fully, but I’m not there.

Instead I’m talking about immigration in class. I’m talking about what brings Mexicans to the US, why they stay, how they’re incorporated in to a dynamic and increasingly diverse culture, and how this could all change in the future.

I keep wanting to rationalize not being at the marches and not participating in the boycott. I want to feel like it’s okay… but it just doesn’t feel right.


0 thoughts on “A non-boycotter’s guilt

  1. Cindy, I completely understand how you feel. At least you’ll be discussing something relevant in your classes. I have to sit through a film course when I rather join a friend in the march taking place in the Commons this afternoon. Unfortunately, even if class let out early, i have group work to do. Ugh.

    I feel like I should be out there though. I missed last year because I couldn’t afford to take the day off from work. :/

  2. cindy, i feel ya! i wanted to go but i had court at 1 pm! i took the gold line to the red line and got off at pershing square and saw all the demonstrators. there is no way i could have missed the hearing (which didnt happen b/c of other admin reasons).

  3. Cindy – I too know the feeling. I was teaching and proctoring those darned STAR tests (No Child Left Behind – except the ones that get pushed out), and encouraging all my students to do their best, and before leaving, writing an emergency letter of recommendation for one of my students. For the past 5 years we’ve had a growing number of A.V.I.D. student – Advancement Via Individual Determination. So many first generation college bound students are doing so well through lots of hard work – and some gray hair from their teachers and parents. In my native speaker/A.P. literature classes for the first time this year, some of my otherwise eligible students got letters of rejection from EOP programs at the universities where they were accepted – because, they were told, they didn’t need it – their coursework, grades, and test scores indicated that they didn’t need the help that EOP provides. In a way, it is the only kind of “rejection” letter one would want. I am encouraged that no matter how often people are talking about borders and fences these days, many of our future movers and shakers are going to be educated, articulate, powerful latinos.

  4. I didn’t make it, being that I’m here in the desert. Pero I just turned on the news and watched as LAPD began firing bean bags into the crowd as well as hitting gente with their batons.

  5. Unlike everybody else, I cannot relate – I went to work, purchased what I would have normally purchased, and just basically went about my business – all guilt free.

    I didn’t march, didn’t boycott anything, and generally ignored any of the demands made by the talking heads. Why? It isn’t because I don’t support a generally pro-immigration platform, I most certainly do. I didn’t do it for three reasons,

    1. I believe marches in the USA generally harm the cause.

    2. I highly doubt a truly anti-immigration bill would make it through congress or especially through the president (Bush has always been a pro-immigration president).

    3. I have little respect for many of the march ‘leaders’ and don’t believe they accurately represent the pro-immigrant cause.

    So relax and sleep well at night because you probably made things better for immigrants, not worse.

  6. Guilt is never good, it makes you feel bad and doesn’t do anything to resolve the issue at hand. If you can’t go or decide to not go, just make your peace, it’ll be okay in the end. That being said, the older one gets the more excuses you find for not participating in things like this. Not as if its a bad thing, you’ll just have to figure out where you want to focus your energy.

  7. i didn’t go either. i had to meet with a professor to talk about my exams tomorrow (friday may 4th), but the fool didn’t show up at the end, so i was absent for nothing. not only that,but i am part of an organization that organized youth and artists here in san jose. i agree with el chavo, guilt doesn’t do any good, is about what you do today and tomorrow.
    as to hispanicpundit’s comments, i don’t know if he is just ignorant about world history and the history of struggle and protest in the world, or if he is just a hispanic republican talking head. can we began to speak about Gandhi, MLK, the protests in Argentina tha brought down a government. sure, marches somethign don’t do much, but marches are a small component of a larger struggle.

  8. Tin,

    I specifically said marches in the USA, not marches in general. Many people have noted this, not just ‘hispanic republican talking head’, see here. I should also add that recent history has proven this claim correct.

    tin reminds me of another important reason that I don’t participate in the marches – the date, May 1st. For those of you that don’t know, May 1st, also known as May Day, has long been a preferred date for demonstrations by various socialist and communist groups. They dubbed it ‘International Workers’ Day’ to celebrate the working class, yet these same ideologies have been responsible for more killings of the middle and lower class than any other ideology in the history of man. In fact, May Day is so closely viewed as a specifically communist holiday that many people, including former communist countries, use the day to remind people of the horrors of communism – an area of life that seems to escape many of the Chicano Studies students that have lived their entire lives safely in a capitalist country.

    By conducting the marches on a day seen universally as a communist date sends a signal to the world that these marches are not about immigrants, they are about politics – a politics that I want nothing to do with.

  9. I hate that I haven’t commented in the last few months. I’ve turned into a consistent reader with no added plugs.

    I don’t think you should beat yourself up too much. Unfortunately, I was preoccupied with running errands: picking dad up from airport, taking nephew to doctor, etc. But I through up my fist to show solidarity. I want to say that I disagree with Hispanic Pundit’s perspective on public gatherings and protest. I feel that they only halt, disrupt, or “harm the cause” that they are fighting against, and well, logically that is a good thing.

    I seriously doubt that hundreds of thousands of supporters who embrace immigration reform, and speak out for it, are “harming” anything. National and International coverage of this event only proves that what they indeed produce is a formidable force against the debilitating sanctions and laws that are in place today.

    I say fight on and keep fighting. Resiliance is beautiful and protest is an art. As a matter of fact, I’m going out right now to picket against the Lakers loss. Mitch Kupchak, bring in help for Kobe now, or else!

  10. hispanicpundit-

    i’m not sure as to what “recent history” you refer to as “harming the cause.” (and what cause, cuz i don’t think we are in the same one) in regards to immigration, i think the marches last year at least helped to defeat the Senselessbrainer bill, which would have made undocumented workers felons, including family members that help them. immigrants and their supporters also became more aware of our collective strenght, and the need to work with other people of color and everyone interested in human rights and social justice. we are building the networks of resistance.

    as to”the horrors of communism” and the safety of capitalist countries, I want to remind you of the horrors of capitalism (hiroshima and nagasaki, slavery of African peoples, the holocaust against indigenous people, segregation, Vietnam, and now Iraq), and that for many working class people of color, there is not that much safety in this country. this is not to excuse the Soviet Union or China, i really have no interest in defending them! (is that your understanding of communism, or is it based on an actual knowledge of Marx’s work?).

    I am sure that the communist party, and specifically the soviet union where responsible for lots of shit, and killings of innocent people. i don’t like lenin, stalin or any of those fools. i don’t think you can have communism with a strong state, that becomes more like state capitalism. but now after the cold war, it is the capitalists who rule the world and they are f.cking it up.

    can we instead talk about human rights, is that too radical a concept for a Republican?

    (sorry Cindylu, si quieres, i won’t continue the conversation with hp. on another note, I just passed my oral exams, i am now officially ABD)

  11. tin,

    You assume that the Tancredo bill would have passed in the first place – a very shaky claim. Tancredo is hated by most Republicans, he is seen as an outcast, a political operator who only introduces these bills to satisfy his racist supporters at home, knowing full well that the bill would not pass. Karl Rove has called him “a traitor to the party,” “a traitor to the president” and warned him to never “darken the doorstep of the White House”. That is a view shared by most Republicans – I should know this, I am Republican and follow the party closely.

    Many people knew this. Many people cautioned against marches that would likely harm the cause over a bill that would not pass anyway. But the march supporters won – and slowly but surely the polls showed support for immigration falling (but who cares about immigration anyway, so long as people feel important, now thats what matters) and what resulted is one of the most anti-immigration bills in the history of the United States, a bill that had bi-partisan support and a generally pro-immigration President. This is why I said recent history has proven my claim correct (Please read the link in my previous post for more on this).

    As to the horrors of capitalism – there is a fundamental difference between those and the horrors of communism, the most fundamental being that even if I accept them as horrors of capitalism (which I dont) they are only incidental to capitalism, not fundamental. When I attribute certain murders to communism I do not do so merely because a communist country did the murdering, I do so because those murders are a direct consequence of the communist philosophy itself. Whether it is the collectivization of agriculture, the gulags, the death marches, purges, totalitarian dictatorship, and on and on, they have all been known to be a direct logical result of communism since F.A. Hayek, the Nobel Prize winner in economics, predicted it in his 1944 book, The Road To Serfdom.

    With that said, I am more than willing to discuss communism (or, as you would likely refer to it, ‘democratic socialism’) or any other topic with you – bashing chicano studies looney views and showing them the errors of their ways is one of my favorite past times. But know that if we discuss communism it would be like arguing with religious fundamentalist christians who believe in seven day creationism – it is your religiosity of the left that is so far out of the mainstream that really only Chicano Studies and sociology majors still entertain those views.

  12. hispanicpundit-
    just to clarify, I never said I was a ‘democratic socialst,’ I am a Tinist… I won’t take any more of Cindylu’s space, let’s take it to our own blogs. hey, is G.W. part of the capitalist philosophy or is he also incidental? how about WWI and WWII? how about hispanic republicans?

    much love to cindylu for the space. i promise, i won’t say more here.

  13. Cindylu, in the future I am sure you will run into this problem again…
    On campus years ago, here at OSU, I had a wonderful Latina Studies prof who refused to cross the picket line when custodial staff was on strike, so she held office hours and class off campus. Her office hours were at a coffee shop across the street from campus, and we even had class at her house one day…with awesome snacks…

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