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Racial Borderlands: Suburban Plantation Culture and 'Rancho California (por favor)'
Unformatted Document Text:  Racial Borderlands/10/9/03, p.23 2 Congressional Representative and House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s specific statement was: “In other words, if you take the Border Patrol, and the Drug Enforcement Administration combined, there are about ten people working for the IRS for every person working on illegal immigration and illegal drugs. Now what (Congressman) Andrea and I are trying to do is to simplify the tax code. So that we can take about 1/3 of the IRS and transfer it to the Border Patrol and to Drug Enforcement.” 3 Advocates for VCT (Voices For Citizens Together) roused their demonstrators in front of the Federal Building in Los Angleles with several incendiary proposals: “What Congress should do, what he should do, is call out the military as President Eisenhower did, and deport every one of these illegal aliens. Immediately.” VCT speakers underscored one other important goal or objective behind the militarization: “And that is saving our sovereignty from criminals.” (VCT) 4 “We pick(ed) up pieces of bread in the garbage. We lived in the ranches. In the fields. We would make holes, like gophers. We lived under the dirt, we would cover ourselves with a carton.” 5 “They say it becomes very muddy here, but this is the first season that I’ve lived here. We put this carpet down. The children put the bikes down. And they bring oil. Because they say it becomes very muddy here. We will put whatever we can down.” 6 For one of the best elaborations of this view of the “borderlands” see Guillermo Gomez-Pena, “The Virtual Barrio @ The Other Frontier,” in John Caldwell, ed., Electronic Media and Technoculture, (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2000). 7 Modestio talked of the importance of education for his children’s success, then stated: “I hope that all of my children will study and will learn how to take care of themselves. When they are grown up, if they want to come with me, then they can. When they are older they can make the decision, and get work here.” 8 Another women underscored the extent of the dream she shared with those on the top of the hill, albeit from much more desolute circumstances: “And we were talking. And they asked: "What do you wish for your children?" And I wished only the best for my children. I can't give them anything. But hopefully, by studying, God will help us. And they will be able to succeed. 9 For an excellent discussion of the resistant, sub-cultural possibilities of “poaching” and appropriation, see Henry Jenkins, Textual Poachers, (New York: Routledge, 1992). 10 A “therapeutic” or psychological explanation about media use in the marginalized spaces of the camps was offered by Arturo Gonzalez.The ones that come and sell videos are Mexicans. Some are Arabs, who sell tape players. The companheros buy tape players and all that. Yes, by buying cassettes, buying tape players, they then feel comfortable--even over in the hills. Because only in this way, do they console themselves with their own music, and everything, right? In order not to feel sad.” 11 A veterinary labor videotape from an employer brought incongruous pet-care ecstasies to the camp (“These animals are cute. But none of them can tell you when they are not feeling well. Sure, it won’t be long before your children can speak, but your pets never will.”). Local businesses discarded videos about cable television marketing that made their way to the hill camps (“But don’t take our word for it. Take it from others who have created a competitive edge for their clients, using cable television advertising. We will give you an example of what your on-air look will be.”). Laborers in construction and domestic labor brought free VHS copies of Apartments on Tape that promoted gated, luxury complexes to the to the oft-moving migrants (“If you are planning a move, and storage problems are bringing you down, let ‘Self-storage’ provide the easiest, fastest, and most economical way to take the load off.”). 12 I had gone to find recognizable forms of human agency and resistance, but soon stopped looking past visual expressions that were far more ubiquitous. 13 A new evangelical super-church, for example, formed one of the 4 main “gates” to the secluded network of Carlsbad and Vista camps, and welcomed newcomers to spiritual as well as cultural conversion. It was as if each of the picturesque (Mediterranean, neoclassical, and Spanish-styled) main gates around the camps—de facto access points that ringed the arroyos to the north, south, east, and west, spoke implicitly but eloquently to the workers: "All ye who enter in..... this is what you are, and what you will become." 14 Nutrition-related illnesses were endemic to this specific community, and the need for intervention compelling. The Latino immigrant community faced a far higher incidence of diabetes and anemia than the population as a whole; and pregnant women in particular faced medical risks due to poor diets during pregnancy (U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services 1996, Squires 1996, Richardson 1996, Nguyen 1997, Schrader 1997, De Jesus 1997).

Authors: Caldwell, John.
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Racial Borderlands/10/9/03, p.23
2
Congressional Representative and House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s specific statement was: “In other
words, if you take the Border Patrol, and the Drug Enforcement Administration combined, there are about
ten people working for the IRS for every person working on illegal immigration and illegal drugs. Now
what (Congressman) Andrea and I are trying to do is to simplify the tax code. So that we can take about
1/3 of the IRS and transfer it to the Border Patrol and to Drug Enforcement.”
3
Advocates for VCT (Voices For Citizens Together) roused their demonstrators in front of the Federal
Building in Los Angleles with several incendiary proposals: “What Congress should do, what he should do, is
call out the military as President Eisenhower did, and deport every one of these illegal aliens. Immediately.”
VCT speakers underscored one other important goal or objective behind the militarization: “And that is saving
our sovereignty from criminals.” (VCT)
4
“We pick(ed) up pieces of bread in the garbage. We lived in the ranches. In the fields. We would make
holes, like gophers. We lived under the dirt, we would cover ourselves with a carton.”
5
“They say it becomes very muddy here, but this is the first season that I’ve lived here. We put this carpet
down. The children put the bikes down. And they bring oil. Because they say it becomes very muddy
here. We will put whatever we can down.”
6
For one of the best elaborations of this view of the “borderlands” see Guillermo Gomez-Pena, “The
Virtual Barrio @ The Other Frontier,” in John Caldwell, ed., Electronic Media and Technoculture, (New
Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2000).
7
Modestio talked of the importance of education for his children’s success, then stated: “I hope that all of
my children will study and will learn how to take care of themselves. When they are grown up, if they want
to come with me, then they can. When they are older they can make the decision, and get work here.”
8
Another women underscored the extent of the dream she shared with those on the top of the hill, albeit from
much more desolute circumstances: “And we were talking. And they asked: "What do you wish for your
children?" And I wished only the best for my children. I can't give them anything. But hopefully, by studying,
God will help us. And they will be able to succeed.
9
For an excellent discussion of the resistant, sub-cultural possibilities of “poaching” and appropriation,
see Henry Jenkins, Textual Poachers, (New York: Routledge, 1992).
10
A “therapeutic” or psychological explanation about media use in the marginalized spaces of the camps was
offered by Arturo Gonzalez.The ones that come and sell videos are Mexicans. Some are Arabs, who sell tape
players. The companheros buy tape players and all that. Yes, by buying cassettes, buying tape players, they
then feel comfortable--even over in the hills. Because only in this way, do they console themselves with their
own music, and everything, right? In order not to feel sad.”
11
A veterinary labor videotape from an employer brought incongruous pet-care ecstasies to the camp
(“These animals are cute. But none of them can tell you when they are not feeling well. Sure, it won’t be
long before your children can speak, but your pets never will.”). Local businesses discarded videos about
cable television marketing that made their way to the hill camps (“But don’t take our word for it. Take it
from others who have created a competitive edge for their clients, using cable television advertising. We
will give you an example of what your on-air look will be.”). Laborers in construction and domestic labor
brought free VHS copies of Apartments on Tape that promoted gated, luxury complexes to the to the oft-
moving migrants (“If you are planning a move, and storage problems are bringing you down, let ‘Self-
storage’ provide the easiest, fastest, and most economical way to take the load off.”).
12
I had gone to find recognizable forms of human agency and resistance, but soon stopped looking past
visual expressions that were far more ubiquitous.
13
A new evangelical super-church, for example, formed one of the 4 main “gates” to the secluded
network of Carlsbad and Vista camps, and welcomed newcomers to spiritual as well as cultural
conversion. It was as if each of the picturesque (Mediterranean, neoclassical, and Spanish-styled) main
gates around the camps—de facto access points that ringed the arroyos to the north, south, east, and
west, spoke implicitly but eloquently to the workers: "All ye who enter in..... this is what you are, and what
you will become."
14
Nutrition-related illnesses were endemic to this specific community, and the need for intervention
compelling. The Latino immigrant community faced a far higher incidence of diabetes and anemia than
the population as a whole; and pregnant women in particular faced medical risks due to poor diets during
pregnancy (U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services 1996, Squires 1996, Richardson 1996, Nguyen
1997, Schrader 1997, De Jesus 1997).


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