( Apr. 3rd, 2009 12:13 pm)
Note: this is cross-posted from a few places, most notably my "real" blog and one of the communities I moderate. If you have seen it already, my apologies.

I have been stewing about this for weeks. Its more conceptual than specific event-based, so its harder to articulate.

Have you ever thought about how we talk about people?

There are a lot of discussions in various social settings where certain words and phrases are dismissed as being "just a word" or "meaningless" when their problematic nature is discussed. This is a fight that I have had with even the most progressive of folk, many of whom will not acknowledge that words have power. Words define the world around us. What words we use, and what they mean to different people is vitally important, because even if a word means nothing to you, this doesn't mean it has no meaning ever. How we talk about people and things shapes our conceptions of those people and things. How we talk about them also shapes our discourse in regards to these things, and allows us to define people, often without their input.

Which brings me to what I want to talk about here: immigration, immigrants, the words we use when we discuss them and how that perpetuates racist stereotypes and myths about immigrants, and specifically immigrants who are also POC. As Liss pointed out the immigration dialog in this country is usually based in racism and she quotes Professor Ojito of Columbia University:
"The debate, as it is framed now, has become a strictly anti-Hispanic immigration battle cry. And nothing rallies this nation quicker and more efficiently than the presence of an alien. Particularly one who is also considered ``illegal.''"
The rest is under here )

Another Note: If you are planning on commenting on this piece, please read all of the links in it first. Thank you.
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