Monday, May 25, 2015

"Not Counting Mexicans or Indians": The Many Tentacles of State Violence Against Black-Brown-Indigenous Communities

Even before I worked for Lowrider, I had covered a historic trial of a sheriff's deputy, Billy Joe McIlvain, who had executed a teenager from San Gabriel named David Dominguez in 1977. At the trial, it was revealed that it was the deputy who had kidnapped and killed Dominguez, while the deputy claimed the reverse. He was given a life sentence, an extreme rarity in the history of US jurisprudence, yet he served only 13 years. Little wonder the expression: "The price of a Mexican." In most cases, the price is zero. One Texas murder case in 2000 resulted in no prison time, but a whopping $4,000 fine.

...There is no shortage of recent examples of this violence, which is primarily carried out against Black and Brown men and youth, from Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, to Eric Garner in New York City, to 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio. Of course, it's not a new phenomenon. I remember having similar conversations in the wake of the videotaped beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles in 1992. Consider that the beating of King was followed, in 1996, by the nationally televised brutal beatings of Alicia Soltero and Enrique Funez Flores, who were brutalized by several Riverside County Sheriff's deputies after a chase.

...There has never been a time in the history of this country in which people of color were treated by the legal system as full human beings with corresponding full human rights. Complicit in this dehumanization have been this nation's official historians, the educational system and the mainstream media, who shape, teach and cling to fairy tales regarding the founding of this country. That history includes genocide, land theft, slavery, state and vigilante violence (lynchings) against slaves, and against Blacks during the Jim Crow era. That history includes the widespread lynching of Mexicans, between the 1840s and 1920s, including the several thousands killed by the Texas rangers, on both sides of the US-Mexican border.

...The racial profile singled out by Border Patrol is not "Hispanic." It is often a specific indigenous phenotype that triggers suspicion: brown skin, brown/black hair, brown/black eyes and the use of the Spanish language, which is racialized as Brown, unwanted and "enemy other." Immigration enforcement, in effect, amounts to modern-day Indian removal.


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