Category Archives: Immigration

Should “Dora The Explorer” Be Deported?

 

So I’m at the clinic where my son receives his bi-weekly physical therapy sessions the other day, and next to us is another dad and his son, along with some therapists.  I overhear him explaining about how he had a bunch of “Dora The Explorer” cartoons saved on his DVR, but that he had deleted them, and was recalling his explanation of it to either his son or someone else who had asked him about it (I didn’t hear that part clearly.)

“I deported her ass!” he proudly proclaimed.  I didn’t hear any reaction from the people he was talking to.

Okay, I thought.  Another instance of racism delivered as a joke, which would either be dismissed by some as “just a joke,” or flat-out denied as being racist by others.  But it lingered with me for a bit, and I started thinking of precisely why the statement was racist.

First of all, is there anything about Dora The Explorer that would give someone the impression that she could be deported, other than being Latina?  After all, there are plenty of people who get all riled up about illegal immigrants being in the country, but whenever the notion of racism gets suggested, they are quick to point out that they are against illegal immigrants, not all immigration.

So, what would give someone the idea that Dora is an illegal immigrant?  Sure, she’s an explorer, so you might think that maybe she goes around to places where she’s not welcome, with her talking backpack and human-like monkey pal in tow.  But so was Christopher Columbus, who did much more than just explore “new” places.  And he is seen as a hero by many, along with the other European explorers from hundreds of years ago.  So it’s not just that.  And, from what I have seen, it’s not like she goes to places and establishes herself there, mooching off taxpayers and stealing jobs.  In fact, I think she goes to someplace new in each episode.  Maybe she has a travel visa, and is following the law to the letter with all of her adventures.

So it’s got to be something else.  Oh, that’s right, she’s brown.  So, simply because of that fact, she is deportable?  I guess.  This reflects the deep-rooted xenophobia that I think is at the core of a lot of anti-immigrant thought.  Sure, people will say that it’s only about the illegal immigrants.  But what they should really be saying is that it is about the brown immigrants.  If the cartoon was called “Susie The Explorer” and the character was white, there would be no joke whatsoever, whether she were an explorer or not.

And let’s not go with the “it’s just a joke” thing.  That is a convenient way to hide from ugly truths that come out through attempts at humor.  Whether we like it or not, there is an element of truth to jokes, which is exactly what makes them work (or not) as a joke.  If the guy who made this joke had said something like “she got abducted by aliens,” it wouldn’t make sense at all, because nothing in the cartoon has anything to do with aliens.  Dora is no more likely to be kidnapped by extraterrestrials than you or I.  But it’s the unfortunate attitude in many people’s minds that brown people aren’t as welcome in America as others which makes a joke about deportation possible.  Dora’s perceived vulnerability in this issue is due to the color of her skin, and nothing else.

What’s extra sad about this scenario, on top of it being an unfunny attempt at humor that makes light of a situation (deportation) that isn’t funny for the people who get affected by it (including those here legally,) is that it takes the innocence away from a kid’s show.  Among many other things, having toddlers of my own at home and watching different shows aimed at children has reminded me of how such programming is free from the ugly, selfish and “get yours” attitude that plagues adulthood in our society.  There are no immigration laws among the different inhabitants of Nickelodeon.  Nor are there arguments about taxes, or black versus white, or freeloaders, Obamacare, or anything of the sort.  I’m not sure if this dad was recounting his explanation to his son or someone else, but regardless, his son was right in front of him when he said it.  And that’s where this type of mentality is probably most ardently learned.

Come on, man.  Your kid knows nothing about being a racist.  Give him a chance.

Photo credit – Wikipedia Commons – Ian Gampon

What Would Jesus Do?

La Murrieta Immigrant Protests

The question of “what would Jesus do?” has become a bit of a cliché regarding decision-making and whether something is morally right or wrong for people who proclaim to be Christians. But it is relevant as a gauge of determining political action regarding issues that affect the well being of large groups of people. If you consider yourself Christian, you should try to live up to the ideals of your religion.  And in general, with a hotly debated and complicated issue such as immigration, I think people should probably go with their gut instinct in terms of what is the right thing to do.

Which brings us to the issue of undocumented immigrants and the current situation at the border, in which thousands of children are showing up unattended, fleeing home countries that are rife with violence and despair.  There are many people protesting the arrival of these immigrants,  who feel passionately about the issue and believe that they should be deported immediately. There are even people in America who suggest that guns be pointed at immigrant children (and some suggest that they be fired upon) in the name of border security.

Now, whether or not Jesus would be welcoming to people who are breaking a man-made law in order to seek refuge in another country seems to be an easy question to answer. He would probably put people’s safety and well-being above the issue of whether they are legally in a country. But, at the very least, I don’t think Jesus would approve of adults blocking bus loads of children and hurling hateful and divisive rhetoric fueled by fear and greed. I don’t think he would agree with making an enemy out of children who are seeking an escape from a world of turmoil and hopelessness.  I just don’t think that’s what he was about.

I don’t know how some of these protesters can really feel good about themselves at the end of the day, Christian or not. When they lay their heads to rest at night, do they think “that was such a good deed I did, fighting those evil immigrant children.”  I suppose in their minds, they are fighting for “justice” (because all they can focus on is the fact that these immigrants are illegally entering the country.) But in reality, they are being extremely exclusionary and acting in a way that I don’t think Jesus would approve of. Many of them may call themselves Christians, but I think they have the wrong idea entirely.

Murrieta Immigrant Protests