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Racial Borderlands: Suburban Plantation Culture and 'Rancho California (por favor)'
Unformatted Document Text:  Racial Borderlands/10/9/03, p.2 the margins. In contrast to the state’s high-tech industry, raced-labor has always been one of California’s most fundamental “synergies.” The Historical Stage Many considered California an increasingly dangerous place for Latino racial minorities in 1994, especially as a result of the state’s “Prop. 187” anti-immigration initiative. A lot of people at this time were very agitated about what they saw as California’s “leaky” and “meaningless” borders to the south. Anti-immigration groups spread the apocalyptic message on the nightly news that the state was “becoming a third-world state.” Conservative politicians like Patrick Buchanan, in the 1996 and 1998 elections, toured the state for photo-ops in which he raged: “If we can send an army half-way around the world to defend the borders of Bosnia, and to defend the borders of Kuwait. Why can’t we defend the borders of the United States of America?” The televised beatings of fleeing migrants by law officers in 1996 unleashed a torrent of arguments on talk-radio and around office-coolers urging that more “ass-kickings” and “skull-crackings” were needed to tame these law- breakers, all of whom were “stealing jobs” from America’s own minorities. 1 As someone from another part of the country, I could only explain this raced, public-media rhetoric as fall-out from some widespread cultural schizophrenia. This was especially true in lieu of the fundamentally essential roles that migrants seemed to provide everyone in California (at least in the lived, rather than electronically-mediated, world). My initial response to this situation was to take my camera to press conferences where politicians talked of immigration “war,” and crushing tax “burdens.” I filmed political rallies where speakers talked of Latino “infections from the south” and the rampant, racial fertility of “out-of- control procreation.” Congressional Speaker of the House New Gingrich toured the state as a lightning-rod for cheering conservatives, proposing that Congress obliterate the IRS and transfer its resources and personnel to the Border Patrol and to Drug Enforcement. 2 VCT (Voices of Citizens Together) rallies urged the government to “call out the military,” to deport, and to seal the borders,

Authors: Caldwell, John.
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Racial Borderlands/10/9/03, p.2
the margins. In contrast to the state’s high-tech industry, raced-labor has always been one of
California’s most fundamental “synergies.”

The Historical Stage
Many considered California an increasingly dangerous place for Latino racial minorities in
1994, especially as a result of the state’s “Prop. 187” anti-immigration initiative. A lot of people at
this time were very agitated about what they saw as California’s “leaky” and “meaningless” borders
to the south. Anti-immigration groups spread the apocalyptic message on the nightly news that the
state was “becoming a third-world state.” Conservative politicians like Patrick Buchanan, in the
1996 and 1998 elections, toured the state for photo-ops in which he raged: “If we can send an army
half-way around the world to defend the borders of Bosnia, and to defend the borders of Kuwait.
Why can’t we defend the borders of the United States of America?” The televised beatings of
fleeing migrants by law officers in 1996 unleashed a torrent of arguments on talk-radio and around
office-coolers urging that more “ass-kickings” and “skull-crackings” were needed to tame these law-
breakers, all of whom were “stealing jobs” from America’s own minorities.
1
As someone from
another part of the country, I could only explain this raced, public-media rhetoric as fall-out from
some widespread cultural schizophrenia. This was especially true in lieu of the fundamentally
essential roles that migrants seemed to provide everyone in California (at least in the lived, rather
than electronically-mediated, world).
My initial response to this situation was to take my camera to press conferences where
politicians talked of immigration “war,” and crushing tax “burdens.” I filmed political rallies where
speakers talked of Latino “infections from the south” and the rampant, racial fertility of “out-of-
control procreation.” Congressional Speaker of the House New Gingrich toured the state as a
lightning-rod for cheering conservatives, proposing that Congress obliterate the IRS and transfer its
resources and personnel to the Border Patrol and to Drug Enforcement.
2
VCT (Voices of Citizens
Together) rallies urged the government to “call out the military,” to deport, and to seal the borders,


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