Resisting from the Empire
The Southwest Political Report
By Irene Sanchez
We must resist.
We must resist fascism.
We must resist racism.
We must resist white supremacy.
We must resist the ban targeting Muslims.
We must resist the attacks targeting immigrants from all over, but especially those who were targeted most in the Trump campaign and throughout history by Presidents prior with racist policies that legislated oppression.
We must resist from where we are, even if where we stand is hostile. There is no other choice. Love will not Trump hate in the Empire or anywhere else.
Where I write from is a place I grew up.
The Inland Empire.
The IE is a region that consists of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties in Southern California. It is the 13th largest metro area in the U.S. Though it may seem like a small town in some places depending on where you are, the way in which this place is measured in magnitude has always been based on the size of its’ economy. The nickname Inland Empire lends itself to the days when Riverside had a bustling citrus industry. When you have an industry, you must have labor or the economy won’t flourish.
I know this well from seeing what I saw growing up and what once was.
Dairy farms and citrus groves have become warehouses in free trade zones.
I had attended an event twice in the last six months where graduate students from UCR presented their work on Braceros in Riverside. Their work reminded me that immigrant labor was always central to the Empire until they felt it was no longer needed. The Bracero Program was initiated in 1942 and was supposed to guarantee basic rights to the workers who came to work under that program, but as I learned when I was in community college that was not the case. To this day there are ex-braceros fighting to get their money owed to them by the U.S. government for exploiting them.
The Bracero Program was even requested to continue in Riverside County because the farm bureau said it was essential to their livelihoods. “To fill the needs of farmers and growers at harvest time or periods of other peak work the Mexican nationals have proven a Godsend. Ceas explained. The braceros are brought Into this country under a U S Mexico agreement, and their living and working conditions are supervised by the U S. Department of Labor, by the State of California and by the consular representatives of Mexico. ‘IT IS NOT TRUE, as some critics of the bracero program would have the public believe, that the Mexicans are displacing local workers.” Ceas said” This quote was from The Desert Sun (October 29, 1959). After the Bracero Program was implemented and the U.S. government decided the laborers were no longer needed, they implemented Operation Wetback in May 1954 and ordered mass deportations.
We must remember that before the Bracero Program The Mexican Repatriation Act (1929-1936) was framed in the Empire as “Mexicans Returning Home” as the article titled from the Madera Tribune (San Bernardino) on October 9, 1931 gently states but how can that be when Mexicans were deported without due process. How can Mexicans be deported to somewhere when for many this was home or became home before it became the Empire.
Even in our history books we are still given #alternativefacts as truth and then when we fight for Ethnic Studies, we are told we are being divisive and being expected to accept their lies as truth. I grew up during the era of Prop 187 and remember walking out in middle school. I remember the idea that “they” hate us (Mexicans). I remember sitting in the first Chicano Studies class at my high school my freshman year and I remember my fathers stories of running from tear gas cans as a boy in East LA during the Chicano Moratorium.
I am tired of #alternativefacts. I am tired of these lies in the Empire and not just here, but the part that spreads from sea to shining sea. In researching I found an article where a grandmaster in the KKK was quoted in an article published in the San Bernardino Sun (October 1, 1956) as saying “the new KKK will stay within laws that are just in its’ fight against integration” and today so will we.
I was waiting for the day when things would change and they are beginning to. You can see it in the way the population has increased and shifted in diversity as of 2015, Riverside (city) now has 316,000 + people, San Bernardino has 213,000+ and Ontario with 167,000+. Riverside County 47.9% Latino, 36.7% White, 7.1% Black/African American, 6.9% Asian, and 1.9% Native. San Bernardno County is 52.2% Latino, 30.0% White, 9.5% Black, 7.4% Asian and 2.0% Native.
Groups like the Inland Empire Immigrant Youth Coalition are fighting back from bans on Muslims to protesting at the Detention Center in Adelanto and I am proud to be here standing in resistance because the picture that was painted when I grew up here is changing and will continue to, but I realize now it is because that picture was painted with #alternativefacts. That is why on February 7, 2017, people have organized led by a local city council hopeful Rafael Elizalde and will ask to make Riverside a Sanctuary City to resist racism, oppression, and fight against laws that are unjust. We have helped this region grow and thrive into an empire and it is from here and anywhere else we find a place like the empire, we will we resist laws and policies and people who threaten our very exsistence.
The photo I linked with the article shows uncle sam saying he grew these oranges himself in California, but let us not forget who really labored over the harvest and who reaps the financial benefit and continues to.