I saw this posting from pandagon today regarding Jasmyne Cannick’s article against immigration reform. I had to write something in response to it because I am deeply offended by her words as a black women and as a lesbian.
It’s a slap in the face to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people to take up the debate on whether to give people who are in this country illegally additional rights when we haven’t even given the people who are here legally all of their rights.
This reminds me of how some black “leaders” said it was a slap in the face to the civil rights movement to be equated with the gay rights movement. I am sorry Jasmyne, but the oppression olympics are played out and get us nowhere in our goals of civil rights for all oppressed people. I agree that we haven’t given all of the people in this country the same rights, but what makes the struggles of gays and lesbians more important than the struggles of immigrants? Nothing does.
While I know no one wants to be viewed as a racist when it comes to immigration reform, as a lesbian I don’t want to move to the back of the bus to accommodate those who broke the law to be here. After all, immigrants aren’t the only ones who want a shot at the American dream.
While I agree that immigration reform is an important issue and perhaps it could become the next leading civil rights movement we haven’t even finished with our current civil rights movement. Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts got it right when he said, “There is no moving to the front of the line.” Immigration reform needs to get in line behind the LGBT civil rights movement, which has not yet realized all of its goals.
Excuse me? Did it ever occur to her that just because it is a law doesn’t make it right? Slavery was legal for over 200 years–did that make it right? Of course not. In fact, it was only up until recently (2003) that a number of anti-homosexual laws were repealed that de-criminalized the personal sexual relationships of homosexuals–which were the anti-sodomy laws. When she was having sex with other women, it was illegal. And if she has sex with a member of the military, it is still seen as illegal and could place her in prison for up to 15 years.
Immigration and immigrant rights are a part of the civil rights movement. Does she not know of any bi-national couples? Does she not know of any queer immigrants? She lives in Los Angeles, a diverse metropolis, therefore I find this highly impossible–unless she only interacts with queer U.S. citizens. And, since she uses racialized rhetoric (back of the bus) she implies that the civil rights movement that grew out of the desires of both blacks and whites to provide equal rights for blacks has successfully finished. She says this at the same time the majority of people in prison are black, where a large number of us are living in abject poverty, where the majority of blacks are living with HIV/AIDS–but i guess, since we got to move out from the back of the bus, everything is a-ok. Hearing this from a black lesbian is appalling.
Which is not to say that I don’t recognize the plight of illegal immigrants. I do. But I didn’t break the law to come into this country.
As a black American born lesbian, you are descendants of slaves. Of course you didn’t have to “break the law” to come here, your ancestors were already brought here against their will. But what about those of us queers or even non-queers who do not have the privilege of being born here in the United States?
Both Senator Kennedy and Sen. John Cornyn of Texas backed away from insisting that guest workers would have to leave the United States after their initial two-year visa expired, basically guaranteeing that immigrant families wouldn’t be separated.
Who actually believes that this country holds the best interests of immigrant families at the center of the guest worker legislature. The guest workers would have to leave because the United States government does not want them to stay here. If they stayed, the government would be responsible for them financially and politically, where a number of laws would have to change to accommodate these new citizens, extended stay nationals, or whatever else they would be deemed as. Our country would be responsible for treating them like human beings and not the underpaid, disposable and worthless contractors the government wants them to be portrayed as.
Cannick’s words are xenophobic and reek of right wing conservatism that deploys the rhetoric of “illegal” and “broke the law” to imply that immigrants are complicit with crime and therefore pose a threat to our rights. I find this highly problematic coming from a person of color who so-called advocates for the civil rights of oppressed people. It doesn’t surprise me that a magazine like the Advocate (a very white and very conservative magazine) published her article.
Jasmyne, what is a crime is the fact that other black women like you and me, are surviving and struggling, just as much as immigants–documented or not. What is not a crime is having immigrants demonstrate their desire for civil rights, just as it is not a crime for gays/lesbians/sgl’s to demonstrate our desires for civil rights.