Calling people illegals is dehumanizing
” Illegals” are not okay~ Earlier this month, the Charlotte Observer published a story about the birth of Tommy Arias, the first baby born in 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The article sparked an outpouring of hate from some readers.This really gets me hot because another beautiful brown baby was born a day later, my nephew, and I don’t understand how something so precious could incite racism? How could the birth of any baby ( black, white, brown, purple, green, yellow) spark hate? The hate came from the color of the baby’s skin and the assumption that the parents were illegal immigrants, prompting an explosive use of the term illegals or the i-word for polite society.
The entire immigration situation in the United States has been ridiculous for quite some time now. I am Mexican. I am a first generation American. My father was born in Mexico. Just because my father is of brown colored skin does not give anyone the right to assume that he is in the country illegally or to call him derogatory names such as illegal, wet back, Spic, Bean eater, illegal aliens (WTF, we’re not from outer space) and all the other wonderful names that people come up with for Latinos nor does it give people the right to comment so heinously on a newborn baby. I don’t give a flying fuck where you fall on immigration legislation. People are not inanimate objects, they have thoughts and feelings and they can hear your words and be hurt by your actions, even when you think they don’t understand. Believe me, they do understand. English is taught in the schools and not as an elective, as a requirement.
Here’s what happened. A photo of new mom Lucero Arias, 19, and baby Tommy, was published along with the article, which did not reference Ms. Arias’ immigration status, or national origin. The piece, however, did mention that Tommy’s grandfather called from Mexico City. How asinine is this? My children’s grandfather calls from Mexico on certain occasions at certain times of the year because he’s retired and that’s where he goes when it’s cold. Besides, would there have been such an issue if baby Tommy’s grandfather had called from Spain? Italy?Australia? Germany? Japan? Africa? I’ve got news for you, we were all immigrants (unless you are a native American) at one time in our history. Some of us just got here sooner than the others. But make no mistake, we are all descendants of immigrants; illegal or otherwise. We are not all “illegals” and no one deserves to be called by that name.
“illegals” is derogatory and hurtful
That was enough for the comments section to fill up with anti-Latino, anti-immigrant rants, causing the Observer to shut down commenting for the article. The paper also added this note: “Comments have been disabled because of repeated violations of site policies. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.”
They had to disable comments because of all the venom that was being spewed about a baby who happened to have a Grandfather who called from Mexico, really? Do people just wait for any excuse to hate other people? It’s like a license to treat people like inanimate objects because they are Latino. Not every Latino is Mexican, and not every Latino is here undocumented, and not every Latino looks Latino so you should probably watch what ignorant comments will be coming out of your mouth because we come in all different shades; including white.
According to Observer readers and Drop the I-Word supporters, the attacks included the derogatory i-word and “anchor baby” slur. Jess George, the Executive Director of The Latin American Coalition, wrote the Observer asking them to Drop the I-Word. They didn’t drop it, but they published the letter, which also sparked hateful reader comments, including these: Way to be an asshole Observer!
” … When kids see lawbreakers get away with their crimes they think they can as well and kids know what illegals are. There IS a difference between Human Rights and US Citizens Rights … “
“Thats right. When an illegal takes a job, he displaces a citizen. When the citizen collects unemployment and goes on food stamps, we pay. This is just one hidden cost of employing illegals.”
“… The way to stop “stereotyping” is to have no illegals here, only legal Latinos. Where could any U.S. citizen sneak over a foreign border and expect a free ride?”
The incident is worrisome, as Charlotte, the city with the largest Latino population in the state, and host for this year’s Democratic National Convention, has also seen a rise in anti-immigrant, ant-Latino bullying. In a span of two weeks at the end of 2011, at least seven cases of anti-Latino bullying in Charlotte public schools were reported to the Latin American Coalition.
The term “illegal immigrant,” which many journalists are having a hard time giving up, is not too far of a stretch from describing people simply as “illegals,” which the Associated Press, New York Times, and the Observer itself have deemed pejorative. Both terms are dehumanizing and further the concept that a person’s being can be illicit. “Illegal immigrant” is not even legal terminology; the Board of Immigration Appeals does not use it, and neither does the Supreme Court. It’s not constitutional or precise language not only because the term convicts people, denying due process. But also because people are never found by courts to be “illegal.”
Can we please stop using this insulting term? How about Latinos? Mexican Americans? Mexicans? You wouldn’t use the n-word, don’t use the i-word. Humans should not be reduced to being called “illegals” it implies that the person is breaking the law by their very existence. It’s derogatory, it’s mean and it’s not going to be tolerated any longer. Throat Punch to anyone who thinks this term is ok. Throat Punch to anyone who uses it. Throat Punch to anyone who can hate a child for the color of it’s skin. Throat punch to the human who can not recognize the humanity in the eyes of another human, even if those eyes are dark brown and happen to belong to a Mexican.
Hope you will link up your Throat Punch Thursday posts with me. I wanted to extend a personal invite to all of you to link up any posts in which you air a grievance, call out any asshatery,or just dole out a well deserved throat punch to one of societies shortcomings or political douche canoes. If not this week, I do it EVERY single Thursday and would love for any or all of you to join in! All you have to do is grab the Throat Punch Thursday button ( listed under the “about” tab at the top of the page), put it in your blog post and link up. If you’d like to stay in the Throat Punch know, I’d love it if you would email or RSS subscribe ( as GFC will stop working soon). People are no more illegals than they are felloniouses, unconstitutionals, or forbiddens ( do you see how stupid the misuse of these words truly are?)
Just say no to the term Illegals