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Immigration is a topic that arouses much anger and hostility for many. For still others, there is a sense of this “loss of a country” that takes place and some even feel this xenophobic emotion toward anyone who is not “legal.” Moreover, when the term immigration is raised, it comes with certain connotations and rhetorical history, which also denotes a racialized implication which results in “Brown” people being implicated as the only type of immigrant. To make things even worse, propaganda, hate mongering through media discourses, and a history of both xenophobia (an unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange) and racism complicate the issue even further. Additionally, post 9/11 America presents new found challenges for any ethnic minority, but especially those who are of Middle Eastern decent. Adalberto Aguirre and Jonathan Turner record that:
“The tragic events of September 11, 2001 transformed America’s awareness of persons noticeably different from the Anglo-Saxon core. ‘Suspicious’ became a term for describing anyone who dressed differently, spoke a language other than English, or professed different religious beliefs. ‘Terrorist’ became the label for restricting the freedom of anyone who sounded or looked un-American. Unsurprisingly, after September 11, racial, ethnic, and religious minorities became perceived as suspected terrorists in American society” (In American Ethnicity: The Dynamic & Consequences of Discrimination  p.xv).
Thus, the issue of immigration plays on the long culture of fear, which has helped to pass laws such as the one in Arizona. Fear makes people do strange things. In fact, fear is a powerful tool to get people groups—particularly nations—to pass legislation which tends to favor the majority and or those in elite status. This issue of immigration is nothing new for the United States.
For example, in the years pre-Civil War (about 1815-1855), there was great turmoil and upheaval in the country:
Fear is caused by many things:
But one of the most destructive causes of fear, which tends to lead people to do horrendous things, is lying, or, as we call it today-Spin. Spin—the act of drawing out and playing down major issues or volatile events for favorable outcomes—has dominated particularly political spheres and speeches for the last 45 years. What has made this even more dangerous is that horrific results come of this—The Iraq war for oil, the torturing of detainees—and, when done in the “right way” spin can have lasting effects: the Patriot Act. Hence, the issue of immigration we have today.
Most of the issues surrounding immigration have nothing to do with those who are already “here.” Moreover, if we were to deport all those “illegal’s” most of us would hate to pay $25 for a head of lettuce, $4000 for a prom dress on sale, $2500 for landscape jobs, and $30 for a meal at McDonalds. The fact is, “illegal’s” play a very important role in American society; they subsidize the rich and upper middle class lifestyles. Moreover, “illegals” create a buffer zone for “cheaper prices” and “bargains” in the fashion industry, automobile industry, food industry, and even the medical industry. The very notion that American wants “Them” out is both hypocritical and duplicitous; it is a slap in the face to those who work to have a better life here in a country that was founded on hostile immigrant take over. Moreover, those who really want to do this country harm either are already here or have the corporate financing to avoid the trivial laws set in place.
Let us take a closer look at this through satire. Satire helps to bring issues into focus while poking fun at simplistic areas. This video clip below is a perfect example of what I mean:
We should open our minds and read our history. As Cornel West states all the time, “This is the United States of Amnesia” and the amnesic coma is deepening. “A lie told long enough becomes truth” Vladimir Lenin.
Ironically there are some strikingly interesting comparisons here within this clip. A lot of people might find this offensive, but I do not. I actually find it both funny and very similiar to the Hip Hop Jesuz. Now, I can already hear some of you now, "Well, if that's the Hip Hop Jesus, I don't want anything to do with it!" Well, I can understand that response, but, I challenge you to get passed your initial "disgust" and ask, what is the deeper message here?
The image of the Black Jesus is a complex one. The Black Jesus goes beyond skin color and the fact that Jesus is actually Black. For many, it is simply a Jesus that they can relate to; someone that can identify with their needs. What Tupac did essentially, was create a space for Hip Hoppers—and people alike—to access a Jesus which was once only accessible through church, pastors, priests, and or pious conduits that did not understand nor sympathize with a ‘hood perspective. The Black Jesus adds the “Z” at the end of the name to illustrate the difference and signify the change. This was not done in blasphemy nor disrespect for Christ. In fact, quite the opposite, the letter Z at the end of Jesus’ name was added to give a portrait of a Jesus that could sympathize and connect with a people that were downtrodden and broken. The Z represented a Jesus which was not only “Above” in theological requisitions, but also “Below” in reachable form. The Z gives new dimensions to the portrait of Christ and validates the struggles, life, narrative, and spirituality for many Hip Hoppers. The Jesuz of Hip Hop is a Jesus that:
For many years, Hip Hoppers, Blacks, and urbanites in general, have had to deal with the image of a White, blonde, blue-eyed Jesus that was shaped in an image that was foreign to them. Cone (1975 and 1997) argued that there needed to be an image of a Black Jesus: one that Blacks in America could relate to, one that was socially aware of the struggle that Blacks had to go through, and one that would have compassion on them because of their hardships (Cone 1975: 99-105).
Tupac took the ideology of the Black Jesus a step further and talked about a Christ figure for the ghetto. A Christ that smoked weed, drank liquor, kicked it, and had compassion for the ‘hood; a human link to deity, which referred back to the literal image of The Christ—God incarnate. This is a difficult image of Jesus. This is not the traditional form of Jesus, both literarily and figuratively. For many traditional Blacks—including many other evangelical Christians—Tupac was simply too irreverent and sacrilegious. Once again, Tupac was deconsecrating the sacred world; this was an act worthy of death in the Spanish Inquisition. People would hang Tupac for what he was saying—and they did, metaphorically and lyrically.
The image of the Black Jesus was one that could connect with the downtrodden. This image was connected back to his thug life message, carried a messianic message of hope, vision, blessings, and cares for the downtrodden, and hurt that dwell in the inner cities of The United States. Tupac was the irreverent natural theologian that gave voice to a suffering community (Dyson 2001).
So, within this post-soul/ post-modern, micro-narrative ethos we live in, it should come as no surprise that we see new images of Jesus arising. My challenge to you is, how is this different than, say, what Luther was doing in his work? How theologians like James Cone were seen for promoting “Black Theology?” The image of Jesus is changing; I hope that we can continue to deconstruct the emerging images of Him and challenge and grow a faith and spirituality, which enlightens our minds to a new plane of thinking.
 These are very similar images of Jesus that liberal Christology’s and theologieshave of Christ as Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen (2003: 95-100) would suggest
 The “Q Source,” from the German Quelle, “Spring” or “well,” is shorthand for a hypothetical source that contained primarily sayings of Jesus. It is believed that the Gospel writers may have used this source when writing and forming the Gospels (Kärkkäinen 2003: 96).
 C.f. Reed, Teresa L. 2003. The Holy Profane: Religion in Black Popular Music. Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky. .
“White folks tired of our ass too!
They gettin them some new niggas….”
Is It Something I Said (1975)
Richard Pryor is probably one of the most legendary comics in American pop culture history. His raw comedy combined with the realism of his own life made not only a wry comedic platter, but also painted a life that was filled with pain, agony, and angst on many different complex levels. However, one of the things that Pryor did well was to place in front of you—in a comedic form of course—the vile, nefarious, reprehensible aspects of life and demand you deal with them. He did this so well, most of his comedy is based around these principles, you didn’t even realize you were actually “being taught” something until later on—a skill that most comics do not possess.
In one of Pryor’s better albums, Is It Something I Said (1975), Pryor begins to discuss “race relations” in the U.S. Pryor starts by stating that White people are getting some “New Niggas.” Pryor made the observation that U.S. racial demographics were changing and that Blacks were no longer the “niggers” of the U.S. In Pryor’s view, Vietnamese were “new niggas” and were now the niggarized racial group of the 1970’s. While Pryor was comedically discussing the race relations between Vietnamese people and Blacks, he was unknowingly discussing an even larger issue: Niggarization. That is, the process which involves bastardizing, marginalizing, oppressing, and subjugating a people group in many of the same methods that were used to oppress and enslave African Americans during the height of “open racism” during the 1960’s. Pryor unwittingly stumbled upon a larger issue within American race relations with his discussion on Niggarization. We can see this type of process within many different racial & people groups here in America:
As you can see, Niggarization is not limited to “Blacks only.” It is rooted in the racial discrimination and political/ social oppression Blacks have faced, but not limited to only Blacks. Today, especially in a post 9/11 climate which grows in the soil of a culture of fear, many people and racial groups face Niggarization. The one particular group that I would like to point out today is Gays.
Gays are some of those “new niggas” we are now dealing with in the 21st century. After a heated political year in 2008, the controversial prop 8 in California, and the open bashing of gays within certain religious circles, gay people have become new niggas. Now, does race have a part in this Niggarization? Of course. But, that is for another time. The point I am making here, is that gay people are a new line of people to bash, hate, fear, have disgust towards, and point toward the ill of our societies decline in morality. These types of jargon are no different from what was said about Black people, Japanese Americans during WWII, and Middle Easterners after the 9/11 events here in the U.S.
Gays are easy targets because of their “lifestyle choices,” seemingly moral declination, erroneous connections to the spread of HIV & AIDS, and perceived debaucheries; gays have become a despised group and “moral” target for religious groups because of this list of “sins.” However, gays were not always the “feared” people group.
As long as gays were considered “faggots,” dying of AIDS, segregated to “their district,” and kept out of site, they were “ok.” As long as gays were nowhere near social power structures and political mobility, they were “ok.” As long as they stayed in San Francisco and other Babylonian labeled cities, they were “ok.” However, once gays gained power, political strength, and weaved into “respectable” professions such as doctors, lawyers, and mayors, they became a problem. Gays were not even on the conservative agenda 25 years ago. Moreover, most Christians never had to interact with “those people” unless they went to Disneyland or drove past the “Red Light” district of a city.
Now, I am not here to tell you the gay lifestyle is "bad" or "good." You can debate that on your own, what I am here to say is that gays are the new niggas of the 21st century and that alone needs some addressing. Its amazing to me the comparisons between what was said about African Americans in the 1960’s and gays during this last election year. Here are a few:
These are just some of the few themes that parallel gays and African Americans. Now, the fact remains that most of the U.S. does not support gay marriage. Most of the states within the U.S. have laws that oppose gays being defined as a “married couple” (some do have civil union laws). And most Christian churches oppose any type of gay marriage, activity, or interaction. After the much debated Prop 8 in California (Along with several other states), a lot of homophobic discourse arose and some good old fashioned hate came out—which is no surprise given this nations history toward “ethnic people.” Gays have simply become Niggarized and easy targets for ridicule, hate, and intolerance. Much of this Niggarization is very similar to Jim Crow Laws, segregation laws, and the “separate but equal” mantra, which seems to continually show its hideous countenance within the American public sphere.
So where does this leave us? Where does this leave those who call themselves Christians? Rick Warren has made it clear that it is the “us versus them” syndrome; clearly. Moreover, what about Bible theology that teaches gays will “burn in hell” and “Not inherit the Kingdom of God?” Well, Billy Graham said an interesting quote several years ago, and while I am not necessarily a Billy Graham groupie, what he said bears strongly on our “next move.” During Bill Clinton’s inaugural luncheon, a reporter spotted Billy sitting at a table. The reporter quickly ran over to the table to grab the latest “scoop” from Billy and to inquire why he was even there. The reporter said, “Billy, why are you here? How can you, a religious man, even be here in the midst of such an adulterer?” Billy responded in some of the wisest words. He said, “You know, I’m here because of one reason. You see, its God’s job to judge, the Holy Spirits job to convict, and my job to love. That’s what I’m doing here, my job, to love.” My question is, how are we loving those whom we have labeled “stranger,” “different,” or “evil?” Moreover, how do we love on the Niggarized gay people group?
Here is a website you should check out by my boy Andrew Marin.
Here are some videos to keep you thinking too.
Did you catch Saturday Night Live last week? Well, there was a skit on the comedy satire that showed Governor Paterson of New York as a blind coke head bumbling his way around. Was this too far? Did SNL "cross the line?" Was race a factor? Are we all just a little too sensitive? Where does the line get drawn? I'm curious to see what you all think...here is the video and let's sound off:
America, the Best Country next to 10 Others
Is America the best country in the world? I mean, shoot, we’ve touted that for years now. Isn’t America the best country to live in? Don’t we have the best healthcare, judicial system, food, educational system, & Jesus? After all, God did “Bless America” didn’t he? H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks yeah He did!
Well, let’s begin; first, if you refer to the U.S. as just “America” you are ethnocentrically incorrect. America is not just the United States it’s the continent of America: Canada, Mexico, and then there’s South America—which is a whole other “American.” In fact, many other countries—and ethnicities for that matter—equate “American” with being White. The word “Americano” in Spanish refers to White people. So for me, “American” and “America” is a complex word. Most in scholarly literature refer to our country as the U.S. (Trust me, more on this later, but we must move on)
Second, over the last decade or so the U.S. has been loosing its “grip” as the number one spot. Sure, we here in the U.S. want to think of ourselves as number 1’s, but the reality is that the tide is changing.
About 4 years ago when I was in grad school, I met a woman who had come from Indonesia. She told me that she had been training to do missions here in the U.S. and that after graduation, her new mission field was the U.S. and that her church back in Indonesia had sent her. Whoa! Wait a minute! Aren’t we supposed to be the ones sending? Aren’t we supposed to be the one’s helping those there heathens? How can the helper need help? What?
It’s just something interesting that I wanted to begin with; this is something I will be pondering as I move forward here. An Op-Ed piece in the New York times the other day by Roger Cohen title “The World Is Upside Down” illuminated some great issues that we here in the U.S. are going to have to contend with.
I think the days of saying “We’re number 1” are numbered. We are one of the few nations that don’t require its citizens to learn a foreign language. Now, I realize that some colleges do and some private schools, but by in large, we here in the U.S. unashamedly expect people to speak English, after all, it is Jesus’ languageJ.
Moreover, often times the word “American” often gets connected with White & Christian. As a multi-ethnic male, I resent that. In Spanish, when the word “American” is used, it often refers to White people. It gets hard for me, a male of color, to only be identified as just an “American.” I am so much more than that. White’s who have yet to deal with their White privilege and White racism will often say, “Why can’t you just be an American? You don’t live in Africa and don’t know anyone from there!” This is the typical response of White supremacy. Now, when I say White supremacy, I’m not talking about the KKK, Neo Nazi groups, or Nazi hate groups. I’m talking about White people who are upright citizens, church goers, people who believe they are “moral,” and people who are not trying to initiate violence and hate. Yet, these are White’s who are completely ignorant to race issues, intercultural communication, & the history of race relations here in the U.S. These are Whites that continue to promote White as the pinnacle of civilization, believe they are excused from being an ethnic group, see culture as “those peoples” thing, and have little to no understanding of their own cultural/ ethnic heritage all the while continuing to remain ignorant under a very oblivious mindset—in other words, most of this is done unconsciously. Hence, the supremecy of Whiteness and the continuing of White ignorance to the issue of cultural/ ethnic identity. That being said, it becomes hard to have conversations with White’s who subscribe to this type of worldview.
So, is America the best? Hmmm, I’m not sure anymore. I believe we have hope for a better tomorrow with Obama, but Bush messed this country up for a real long time; not just domestically, but our name at the global table has been tarnished for a real long time! We’ll see what happens. I await the future with a little more hope, that someday, our country will be what we always dream it will be—the land of opportunity.
This a dialogue with someone I have concerning the women who protested a homosexual group in Palm Springs by walking around the with a cross.
Was outraged that the homosexuals were yelling and even slightly aggressive with an elderly protesting women.
Would you be angry and even outraged (please be honest) if a homosexual came to your church this Sunday and walked through the crowd with a large penis in their hand protesting Christian morality?
What would you say to that homosexual?
Please take my question in love, I am just raising the question.
I don't think this is a good analogy; there are striking differences between this example and what that woman did. I think the last question you ask is significant, but it doesn't change the fact that such an act does not parallel what that woman did.
How doesn't the act parallel?
First, a protest on the sidewalk is very different from a church gathering. A protest is a voicing of opinion in the public sphere, a church gathering is a private meeting that is not at all based upon making a statement (or, at least, shouldn't be). The raising of that cross at the protest communicates (at the least), "Christianity is clearly and openly opposed to your cause." This is a message that is not offensive. It expresses an opinion, as futile as the expression of that opinion might be. The raising of a penis at a church gathering is simply disrespectful, especially because it is in a private arena. At the least, that act communicates, I have no respect for your organization.
Christians should, nonetheless, respond gently and with love.
Thank you for your response and hear what your saying. Let me respond. Whether Christians meet in a public or private sphere the issue is that they are meeting to promote their cause. Usually to protest publicly activist organizations have to get permits to meet. Especially in large numbers. So, in a sense they have permission to speak out in a specific way. It is their protest time and not the Christians. So if the Christian interrupts their protest why wouldn't they expect that crowd to be angry.
Secondly, most groups that have protested churches stand in front of the church on the sidewalk. The issue that I was raising was not one of specific geography, whether a person is standing on public or private property, but one of intrusion. If you intrude a gathering of Christian worshipers or gay protesters you should expect a reaction. Hopefully it will not be violent. But, if it is one should not be surprised, since their are hot headed people on both sides
Thirdly the sign of the cross is a very offensive symbol as Paul himself declared it was an "offense" to the Jews of his time to declare their Messiah died in such a shameful, criminal way. Many people see Christianity and the Cross as an oppressive religion in our contemporary times. Of course it is an extreme view, but merits some truth due to the fact we have such a bloody, hypocritical, and shameful history at times (more specifically the institutional church). The symbol of the cross evokes the same kind of anger as a penis displayed in publicly for Christians would. Why doesn't a sign that opposes ones view such as the "cross" not be equivalent to the shame of publicly displaying a penis? You admitted that the cross symbolizes a message which is: "Christianity is clearly and openly opposed to your cause."
Of course they are not equivalent ontologically, due to the fact that one is a religious symbol and the other is sexual\biological. But the interpretation from the opposing communities has a dynamic equivalence.
I am not saying that Christians shouldn't protest and even display the sign of the cross in a crowd of protesters. What we should do is be surprised when they get angry and ask us to leave, because we would do the same thing to them. For them the penis is not offensive but part of their sexual culture symbolizing "freedom". For us the cross is not offensive but symbolic of Christ love and freedom from ???.
So, I agreeably disagree with you. The acts are parallel and would evoke the same kind of reactions from both groups. The issue is not protest, but the straw manning we do as Christians towards homosexuals based on their response. The same kind of thing Danny and Karine are doing. I expect if gays protested a Christian church standing on the side walk with their iconic symbol of the "rainbow" or "penis" the reaction would be similar from those church members, "outrage" and "why are they disrespecting us by coming to the area where we meet.
Thanks for the dialogue!
I have much to say in response; I'm not certain I'll get the time to give you one any time soon. Maybe at some point during this week.
No, no, I’m not referring to Obama’s sexual orientation!! Don’t get it twisted yo! However, I am referring to Obama’s ethnic background: Bi-racial. Or, as many would call it, “Mixed.” Black and White. Hmmm. African American & Euro-American. Hmmm. Or is he just Black as many people, including myself, have summarized him down to? It’s hard being mixed. Trust me, I know, I’m half Black and half Mexican. My mom is Mexican and my dad was African American. I’ve struggled my entire life trying to “fit in” with one or the other. But to have a “mixed” president, is a new and uplifting thing for me.
Back in the day Tiger Woods got a lot of slack for not identifying with his “roots.” In other words, Tiger was slammed by many in the Black community for not claiming his Black side. Tiger simply said that if he only paid attention to the Black side of him, he would be denying his mother. A lot of folk could not understand that, yet, I could. I’ve been forced to choose many times. And not just by “friends.” Take a notice on any type of professional application you fill out, there will inevitably be a section there to fill in your “race.” If it’s electronic it will typically only let you choose one box and they’ll make it clear: African American (non-Hispanic), Latino (Non-African American), etc. America does not do well with “multi racial people.” In most cases you are asked to choose between the two. When I’m with my Latino friends, it’s hard to have the Black in me come out because of the racial tensions. When I’m with my Black friends, those Brown tensions run deep too. Growing up, I was never called a spic, wetback, or greaser. I was called a coon, nigger, and a colored; I therefore began identifying with the Black side of me. Having a mom that loved Black culture didn’t help either.
It’s not been until recently (within the last 5 years) that I have begun to embrace the Mexican side of me. Now don’t’ get it twisted, I grew up in a Mexican culture, speak great Spanish, know most of the Mexican holidays, understand and participate in Mexican culture, and have relatives that stretch back to Santa Anna fighting at the Alamo. My Mexican heritage runs deep. Likewise, my African American roots run deep too, but, not having seen my dad since 1982 means I’ve had to find a lot of my Black roots on my own.
American in general does not like to deal with the mixed people of the world. We like absolutes and clear and present ethnicities—a relic of the modern mindset. Most of mainstream society does not deal well with people who are mixed. Look at our celebrities, we don’t really ask Jessica Alba her ethnic background. We look at the Roc and say, “What is he?” Halle Berry gets looked at with a mixed set of lenses too. We as a culture like it when someone is “full.” This bi thing confuses us. Obama being mixed presents a whole set of new issues we as a country have yet to deal with or wish to deal with. Yet, mixed people are growing. My daughter, for example, is mixed with German, Scottish, Black, and Mexican ethnic backgrounds. So, what does that make her? Black? In society we would most likely just call her that and lump her into that category. Moreover, what do you do with folks like Eminem? He talks “Black.” He dresses “Black.” But, dangit, he’s White—right? These are all deep conversations that I feel, and hope, that Obama is able to address within his tenure in office—we’ll see.
Obama is not just African American, as much as most of us would love to think—including me. Now, he is our first Black president, but that is because there is a fundamental difference between race and ethnicity. Race is a social construct while ethnicity is more the biological construct of a person. Yeah, it gets complicated. So, we do have a socially Black president, but we have an ethnically bi-ethnic president who has two sets up ethnic heritages.
I too hope we can someday get to a place where all this does not matter. But, I’ll be honest; I’m not holding my breath! We have a lot of work to do and when people have a hard time dealing with one ethnicity, it makes it even harder for folks like me to bring in my “other;” which is the title I usually get when filling out census forms: other. I’ll anxiously wait to see the next 4 years to see how some of this might break down and hopefully change!