El Guapo in DC

I am El Guapo. The most Guapo man in all of DC. Mucho Amor

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Monday Monday

“Hey Mexican, are you going to be sitting on your lazy ass tomorrow too?”

I stared sadly at the two smiling children at the gentleman’s side. In front of me was yet another generation of ignorance and racism.

“What’s the matter beaner? No hablo Englishy?”

I caught myself smiling with a tilted head at the two children. They had grabbed their father’s arm and were having a good time. It was a good Sunday for them. Maybe their toothless father was taking out his aggression on someone else. I’ll be the whipping boy kids.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d like nothing more than to grab him by his sweat-stained sleeveless shirt, throw him into a wall, pound his chewing tobacco can against his head like a yo-yo, pull him around the parking lot by his sideburns and yank all of his eyelashes out. Then I remember that I’m a grown man who has learned that conflict shouldn’t be dealt with violence. That, and for some reason, I didn’t want to do anything to upset the kids. Probably two children who will make similar comments to me someday, but still, they were proud of their father. How often do they have that?

Tomorrow is being dubbed “A Day Without Immigrants.” Countless immigrants will stay home from work, close their stores and not spend any plata. This is being done in a move of solidarity to show the economic importance and economic power of imigrantes. Latino, Asian and African leaders have all come together to make a point.

I have heard the discussions in mi barrio and many of my vecinos are staying home from work tomorrow. This is one of the first times in their lives when they can taste freedom. They can actually taste it. Many of them believe this will make American policy-makers say, “Oh wow, they do make a difference!” I want them to have their smiles, so I stay silent.

Do I think that tomorrow will make a difference? No. I don’t. Tomorrow alone will not make a difference, BUT, it will make a point. Will some people lose their jobs tomorrow for not coming to work? Probably. But they’re making a point. After a while, after many points have been made, then people will start to listen.

Will there be a backlash? Maybe. Working USA vs. Immigrants. Maybe I worry too much, but as I stare at man spouting obscenities at me while his children look on, I realize that I really don’t. I’m afraid that many of the American policy-makers are only one college degree removed from this man. That and many of them have a silver spoon in their pocket. Not all, but many.

Then I remember. What would this world be like if people were afraid of repercussions? What would this world be like if people were afraid of standing up and saying, “I’m a human being! Treat me like one. Let me earn a living. I am not a criminal. Let me give my family a better life.”

I’m not a fan of this boycott, but it is the act of a people who are tired of being pushed up against the wall. I’m sure all of us have family members, hundreds of years ago maybe, who were pushed up against a wall. A wall of some kind. A wall because of their color, a wall because of their accent, a wall because of their religious beliefs. We all have a wall in our past.

I will not stand against a wall.

Mucho Amor,

El Guapo


At 10:25 PM, Anonymous restaurant gal said...

Seriously, this is how you were spoken to this evening? In your own neighborhood?

I wish I had been there to speak my peace to the face of such ingnorance--and to see to it that those kids never forgot the WASP girl who asked their dad why on earth he felt it necessary to belittle someone, anyone, anytime--much less in front of his kids.

Forget politics. Some people really are that stupid, I guess.

At 10:53 PM, Anonymous Diana Barry Blythe said...

Maybe I'm naive, but I am constantly amazed when I hear people say such horrible things.

We're taught that this kind of interaction is only in histroy books and is blessedly over, but apparently it isn't over.

I'm sick to my stomach.

At 9:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did that really happen or did you just make that up for effect... seems a little coincidental. I'm fine with immigrants standing up... we are all immigrants. How many are illegal aliens, though?

At 9:51 AM, Blogger Transplanted Lawyer said...

You could have told this idiot that you washed your hair with eighty dollar shampoo that morning and recently had a lengthy conversation about relationships with Colin Powell What is more, you have not committed the crime of teaching your children to fear what is different about people in order to quell, if only for a moment, deep feelings of personal inadequacy.

I suppose you were right to let the matter go, but that must have taken a tremendous exercise of willpower. That makes you un hombre grande, El Guapo. I'll be looking forward to your evaluation of how May 1 turned out.

At 11:14 AM, Blogger la guera loca said...

You know Guapo, I believe that actually happened to you. That's why I'm afraid of this protest/boycott. More people like that guy will spew their misguided hatred. I hope the day passes without violence. And I hope nobody tells me I'm unamerican for NOT going out and making $10,000 worth of purchses.

At 11:26 AM, Blogger Thicky said...

you should have slapped him with a tortilla.

At 11:53 AM, Anonymous Sara said...

"What would this world be like if people were afraid of standing up and saying, 'I’m a human being! Treat me like one....'"

Funny, but I've been reading a discussion elsewhere where women complain that every time a man stands up for women's rights to other men or simply asks that other men treat women like human beings, women are expected to thank and praise him for doing so.

You know what nauseates me? That anyone has to ask anyone else to recognize another person's humanity, ever. You're right; it would be even worse if we couldn't even stand up and fight for this, and there are many, many people in the world without this power. But why oh why do we keep having to exercise it? Why does it seem like everyone has to do it at some point or another?

What is wrong with us as a species that we ever have to even talk about such things?

At 12:57 PM, Anonymous Big Timmy said...

The boycott sure made the traffic in the morning bearable. Gotta be thankful for that at least.

But I have disagree with the idea that it's "Working USA vs. Immigrants". I think the issue surrounds the illegal immigrants, not immigrants in general. Most people in this country can trace their ancestry back to a few immigrants. So I think you may be a bit off the mark there.

Citizens that have issues with immigration see a problem that is simply out of control... that requires more control, that's it. I'm not so sure anyone can disagree with them. I mean, it IS out of control. Of course immigrants are an important part of the economy and society as whole. No one is disputing that. So I'm not sure what staying home today is going to really prove.

But giving immigrants that are here illegally a chance to become legal and controlling the massive flow of illegal immigrants is certainly a reasonable goal for any government.

At 2:42 PM, Anonymous GuateJeff said...

El Guapo, I have been reading your blog and love your humor. With that said I feel the need to respond to big timmy. If the system is out of control, why cant immigrants wait in Ellis Island a few weeks like your ancestors and part of mine did to be let in to the country? Most people that view the situation as you do have no understanding of how hard and long it is for people who are not of 'European descent' to come here. Mi prima came here for a better life, she is no felon, she works hard and loves it here. I have another prima that wants to come here just to study, but she can not, why? Because we evidently have enough Hispanos in the United States. If you are not lighter skinned or an engineer of some sort, sorry, try again in five years. The battle cry for those against illegals is 'my family immigrated legally', well give immigrants the same chance you had and they will do it legally too. Si se pude.
Keep up the good work El Guapo,

At 4:27 PM, Blogger Rev. Smokin Steve said...

I'm ashamed as an American that we have created an environment where a group of people feel like they have to do something like this to be heard.

Our system got out of whack a long time ago. We promote America to the world as a place where you can have freedom, then when we get a bunch of those people to come here we complain about it.

I got one of those e-mails from someone saying that we white people as "real Americans" have to go out today and buy something from somewhere because all of the immigrants were staying home to make a statement.

Well, I buy something everyday. I don't have to buy something on a particular day to make a statement against some good people of this world. I was ashamed that e-mail even went out.

Well I've bought one thing today. Know what I bought? I bought a burrito for lunch. And it was tasty. But I usually buy something for lunch everyday. Today I chose a burrito.

I don't know what that says except I like burritos. That's the only statement I make today with my purchases. Please don't take anything else from it. I don't want to be lumped in with the e-mailing idiots.

At 5:20 PM, Blogger Dennis! said...

I wish you had stood up to that asshat with the kids. You're right, one day his kids will spout the same ignorant crap, unless someone like you speaks up. Do it for the kids, man. For the kids.

At 11:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to agree with something already mentioned-- that its the illegal immigrants that are trying to send a message with this whole standup boycott thing. and i whole heartedly oppose their purpose!!! my parents immigrated here 25 years ago,and have patiently put in a request for a visa for my mom's brother, whose family is living in oppression. and he's waiting and waiting all these years in line, patiently, for the opportunity to come here. but no no no, these other people are too good to wait like everyone else, they have the right to enter the states and have freedom, so they just come. which is fine. but THEEEN, they rally and boycott that they should be legal!!! where's the equality here? impatience is immature. it makes me mad.

At 7:49 AM, Anonymous Big Timmy said...

...well give immigrants the same chance you had and they will do it legally too.

I agree. There should be a system for allowing those immigrants already here to become legal. There should be a better system for allowing people to come here legally. But those systems will only work if it includes a system for preventing people from bypassing the system (like crossing the border illegally) or taking advantage of it through deception. Additionally, putting those systems in place takes money. But leaving the whole thing completely unchecked isn't helping anyone... citizens, legal immigrants, nor illegal immigrants. If there wasn't a problem, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

I'm ashamed as an American that we have created an environment where a group of people feel like they have to do something like this to be heard.

Uhhh... you (and the immigrants) should be grateful that you live in a country where people CAN do something like that in order to be heard. That's what America is about, duh. How else did you want a few million people to make their point? A e-mail chain letter?

Think. Being the guilt-ridden American isn't as hip as you want it to be.

At 8:23 AM, Blogger EchiZera said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 8:29 AM, Blogger EchiZera said...

No immigrant thinks he/she is too good to wait like your parents did 25 years ago. The difference is that 25 years ago there was a system that allowed illegal immigrants to legalize their status after proving they were abiding by the law. The 245 (i) used to grant illegal aliens who had been paying taxes, working, and obeying the law the chance to apply for a residency. However, that system is no longer in place as Bush has failed to reinstate it, and he is now seeking to dismantle the structure in which immigration has worked for decades. There are immigrants that have lived in the US for over 10 years, working hard, contributing taxes, etc. For them their only way to make a living was to cross a border illegally… BELIEVE ME... if you are trying to say that Latino's want it easy you could not be farther from the truth.

Had NAFTA not been passed there would be no need to control borders as much. Tell congress to stop subsidizing agriculture so Mexicans and other South American countries can have a chance to compete against American agriculture and you won’t have a need to enforce borders. But when a family decides that the only way to feed their children is to risk their lives crossing a river full of crocodiles in a moonless night... I doubt increasing security in the border will target the issue. As a matter of fact, since the passage of NAFTA government’s expenditure in border patrol has increased but not served to lower the number of immigrants crossing the border. It has only been successful in increasing the death rate of those looking for new opportunities.

At 9:19 AM, Blogger Veronica said...

"We all have a wall in our past."
Well written, well said.

At 10:07 AM, Anonymous Big Timmy said...

echizera - It's clear that the problem is a multi-faceted one.

At 10:14 AM, Blogger EchiZera said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10:54 AM, Blogger EchiZera said...

Big Timmy,
I don't think you got my point. What I am saying is that trying to cure the disease with a medicine that is not targeting the root cause will only fail.

At 11:34 AM, Blogger Rev. Smokin Steve said...

I am thankful that we live in a country where we can express ourselves in such a manner. But why do we have to be driven to do it in the first place?

I just feel bad that a group of people feel like they have to do this to be heard. There is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling bad about the circumstance.

But make no mistake. America on a whole has created this problem, not just the immigrants themselves. America has create an ideal which it openly promotes to other countries. Then when people risk their lives to come over here because of that ideal, we complain about it.

I'm marrying a woman who legally came over from India and is an American citizen now. We had a long discussion about this last night. It occured to me that even though she is qualified in her job and does it very well, there is a segment of America that believes her presence takes away a job from someone more American than her. And that segment of America makes me ill.

Feeling some guilt is not a bad thing. It's not about being hip. Hipness does not determine my feelings.

At 11:59 AM, Blogger El Barbudo said...

It makes me think that we ought to have "A Day Without Beards", to show all the fuckfaces in authority that we, who have decided not to emasculate ourselves, don't deserve to be discriminated against in the workplace. My friend's son isn't allowed to grow a beard at work, and he works in a superstore, stacking shelves. "It doesn't fit in with the image this company wishes to promote" was his line manager's comment. Fucking discrimination.

Yeah yeah, your boycott is probably more meaningful, but I still get fucked off about the beard thing.

At 12:09 PM, Anonymous Big Timmy said...

ech-zera - I got your point. I'm only conceding that the problem isn't a linear one with a clear-cut answer. This is issue can easily be diced up into several different factors, each of which has its own set of characteristics and its own possible solutions.

I am thankful that we live in a country where we can express ourselves in such a manner. But why do we have to be driven to do it in the first place?

Ok, so now you're thankful, but still ashamed? It's called freedom of assembly, which was put in place for this very reason. Now if you think mass demonstrations by a group of people who share a a common aim, are "sad" for some reason, well I guess I just don't understand.

You said these people were "driven" to do this. They were? How? By who? These people were free to voice their message any way they saw fit within the law. They chose public demonstration. I'd like to know through what other method you think would have been better.

That's how it works. A group of people want to send a message to another group(s) of people and this is how you do it... "Here we are, lsiten to our message". It's can be effective and it's very free. Would you prefer a pamphlet stuck in your mailbox (that you'll certainly throw away without a second glance)?

I'm just not following you smokin steve.

At 3:45 PM, Anonymous Yep said...

Smokin Steve always says he's ashamed of something.

He wants people to like him so he tells them what he thinks they want to hear, or what is popular at the time to say.

Yesh! Get a life, man.

At 4:48 PM, Blogger Rev. Smokin Steve said...

It's not the actual demonstration I find sad. It's America's policies.

Timmy... if you don't get my line of thinking by now, then I can't explain it to you. We will agree to disagree on a few things.

And yep... if you want me to start saying things that are nasty and unpopular, believe me I could start a real tirade if I wanted. Forgive me for being positive.

At 10:13 PM, Anonymous Sofitel said...

"Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave! "

There is no bravery in living in despair waiting to be invited to a better life. If you want a better life you have to give it to yourself. That is what undocumented immigrants are doing. After all this is the home of the brave, the land of the free, nowhere in the national anthem does it say " but you must wait for us to invite you in"

At 3:57 PM, Blogger Lillian said...

El Guapo--I've been reading your blog for a few months now, and have been loving it.

First, props for being pragmatic about the distinction between making a point and having an impact. This is an important distinction to communicate, and you so this well.

Second, I'm with restaurant gal--I'd have loved to be there when this happened, and to be the white girl who let the jackass know, in no uncertain terms, that his behavior was disgusting.

At 3:59 PM, Blogger Lillian said...

...Typo. By "so this well," I mean "do this well." My bad.

At 4:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Germany, the Nazis first came for the communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, but I didn't speak up because I was a protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak for me.

-Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöeller (1892-1984),

At 3:44 AM, Blogger Cheetarah1980 said...

Immigrants have always made this country run. This country was built by immigrants lest we forget.


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