Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Moorish girl's blog got me strangely obsessed with this issue

The evils of domestic servants...according to Barbara Ehrenreich

If you want to order the book Global Woman, here's the link...

One of the best movies I've seen in at least five years was the movie Dirty Pretty Things which takes on this issue of immigrant servitude directly...at one point the main character Okwe describes himself and his friends as 'the people you don't see...'

But I always find myself thinking about the immigrants in every place I go or work--how did they get here? How are they making it? How hard is it? Is it worth it for them?

One reason of course is just curiosity about how people make it in life--I find it hard. Even today at the bank the manager helped us change our checking account. I was utterly fascinated by him. I made him talk to us for more than an hour. He seemed to enjoy it. I found out a fair amount. The whole time I was thinking 'Is this a good life? Is this man happy?'

Sometimes I think that's why I write those stories--it seems like unless I do something with this bizarre fact gathering all this research goes to waste. I.e., my horrible nosiness.

A second reason is that it seems to me that many immigrants are treated the worst, have the fewest rights are exploited horrifically and yet so little is done for them. Almost nothing. Of course I am concerned about my fellow citizens. It's disturbing to think of the incarceration, unemployment, destitution of people who are citizens. But immigrants also struggle with so much and they are becoming like this hunted class if they don't have green cards.

When I hear about people being deported because of misdemeanors after living here for years and years I feel ill. Yet which politician--in this climate-would have the guts to do anything about immigrant rights? Or even say the words 'immigrants' and 'rights' in the same sentence?

While they are being used for their labor which is incredibly necessary even in this economic climate--They are keeping the social security afloat, e.g. Every economist knows this but every politician pretends otherwise.

I'm very glad that Ehrenreich is paying attention but then I find myself strangely bugged by the spin she puts on it. I suppose because it does that 'bad consumer' thing--when what people really need to do is recognize that injustices of this kind are politically unacceptable and fight to change them. You may think you have clean hands if you fire your housekeeper (more on this later)--but this will do absolutely nothing. I think I always get cranky when people do the political correctness thing (I recycle! I drive a Prius!) and then think that this will effect a major change.

I wish it would. It is so hard to know what to do to change things. Maybe Ehrenreich will tell us that also.

Moorish Girl


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