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Racial Borderlands: Suburban Plantation Culture and 'Rancho California (por favor)'
Unformatted Document Text:  Racial Borderlands/10/9/03, p.6 “resistance” proposed by border artist/theorists like Guillermo Gomez-Pena (2000), 6 and much more like the same American dream of upward mobility that one might expect in homes at the top of the nearby hills. 7 Other residents consistently underscored this sense of upward aspiration rather than any kind of critical resistance that academics frequently expect of the marginalized. 8 Modestio continued, when questioned about his landlord, to sketch a benign image of the camps: “Ah, yes. The boss here is my "father." He helps us a lot. And gives us his hand. Whenever I need something, he helps me.” Modestio claimed images of himself on camera with very real accomplishment and pride. He had provided, after all, for a family against impossible odds. But he also called his slum-lord "father." Had Modestio consented to his patron's dominance? Was the master's racism now inside of him, as Franz Fanon suggested? Then again, who was I to question Modestio's ambivalent love for the patron? No one else in California was offering this many square feet of concrete for his children--for even 15 times the rent. Including myself. Who was I to pull this one string out of the web of complicity--the ways workers might rationalize subservience or make racism internal--without noting the ways the same relationship also made their survival possible? A great deal of theorizing in recent years has focused on “border culture”; a context normally characterized by great cultural fluidity and change; a place providing the opportunity for empowerment for people of color capable of confusing the dominant order’s categories of identity. Within this borderland framework, a second working goal of mine was to find workers who stole from popular culture, mixing and matching hybrid forms within this threshold between cultures. Victor Turner has described these kinds of "in-between" spaces as liminal spaces—zones of discovery, cut off from both past and future. Eliseo, a self-taught, 14 yr. old Oaxacan boy living on a hillside in Carlsbad, proudly produced instruments for the camera that he had gleaned from dumpsters and swap meets. Accompanying rap (or what he termed “Black music”) playing on a boom box, Eliseo stepped through a series of ranchera chords and tunes on a cheap yamaha synthesizer.

Authors: Caldwell, John.
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Racial Borderlands/10/9/03, p.6
“resistance” proposed by border artist/theorists like Guillermo Gomez-Pena (2000),
6
and much
more like the same American dream of upward mobility that one might expect in homes at the top of
the nearby hills.
7
Other residents consistently underscored this sense of upward aspiration rather
than any kind of critical resistance that academics frequently expect of the marginalized.
8
Modestio continued, when questioned about his landlord, to sketch a benign image of the camps:
“Ah, yes. The boss here is my "father." He helps us a lot. And gives us his hand. Whenever I need
something, he helps me.” Modestio claimed images of himself on camera with very real
accomplishment and pride. He had provided, after all, for a family against impossible odds. But he
also called his slum-lord "father." Had Modestio consented to his patron's dominance? Was the
master's racism now inside of him, as Franz Fanon suggested? Then again, who was I to question
Modestio's ambivalent love for the patron? No one else in California was offering this many square
feet of concrete for his children--for even 15 times the rent. Including myself. Who was I to pull this
one string out of the web of complicity--the ways workers might rationalize subservience or make
racism internal--without noting the ways the same relationship also made their survival possible?
A great deal of theorizing in recent years has focused on “border culture”; a context normally
characterized by great cultural fluidity and change; a place providing the opportunity for
empowerment for people of color capable of confusing the dominant order’s categories of identity.
Within this borderland framework, a second working goal of mine was to find workers who stole
from popular culture, mixing and matching hybrid forms within this threshold between cultures.
Victor Turner has described these kinds of "in-between" spaces as liminal spaces—zones of
discovery, cut off from both past and future. Eliseo, a self-taught, 14 yr. old Oaxacan boy living on
a hillside in Carlsbad, proudly produced instruments for the camera that he had gleaned from
dumpsters and swap meets. Accompanying rap (or what he termed “Black music”) playing on a
boom box, Eliseo stepped through a series of ranchera chords and tunes on a cheap yamaha
synthesizer.


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