People are found in places.
This is true always and everywhere.
A consequence of this is control of places or land or territory
means control of people. If
the places are controlled, then people can be moved around, settled or
resettled, confined or enclosed, in a way that is acceptable to the
powerful. In a racial
society the only acceptable distribution is to keep the races
separate, with the dominant race on the best territories, and everyone
else on the worst. We
have developed sophisticated ways of doing this.
On the world scale, there are the militaries, the borders, and
the immigration policies. On
the North American continent, there is the ghetto system and the
This separation and control of
space by the dominant group is an important part of the racist system.
for the maintenance of racism.
Land is the basis of polity and community.
If segregation were not so strict, whites and people of colour
could not help but find common interests.
Whites could not insulate themselves from environmental
destruction and resource depletion or economic decline by shifting
those burdens on to less important lands (and less important people).
People of different races would have direct experiences of one
another on a daily basis, outside of strictly controlled settings,
instead of the situation that prevails with people learning about each
other through the filters of manipulated and racist media (to be
discussed later). It is
very likely that people would begin to intermarry in large numbers.
I'm not suggesting that people
be forced or legislated into uniform distributions all over the world.
Even if it were possible, the idea of multiple, overlapping
cultural allegiances begs the question: what is going to be uniformly
The reality is that some people are allowed to travel and
settle where they wish, and some people are not.
This, at least, is unfair.
We owe it to ourselves to lift the barriers and see what
push factors for immigration are a result of structural poverty which
is a result of the way we run our economies.
The pull factors are simple economics too.
Employers prefer poor desperate workers because they work cheap
and don't fight. What
makes workers desperate? Being
disorganized, disunited, uninformed of their rights and abilities,
dependent on their employer. Working
people with their roots in a community are more likely to know their
rights, to have rights, to be able to organize, to know one another:
and to demand a larger share of the pie.
Hence employers use immigrants when they need cheaper labour.
3rd world poverty and employer selection create forces that
bring immigrants to North America, racism prevents immigrants from
having an equalizing effect. Consider
that if borders were open and all barriers were removed, workers could
simply move to wherever the wealth was-- and keep moving until
everyone's situation was roughly equal.
If immigrants could quickly become a part of the communities
they worked in they would be no more difficult to exploit than
immigrant workers are in north America and working at all shows that
they are adaptable. Immigrants
quickly adapt to the culture and language of the host country.
What prevents 'assimilation' is not the inability of immigrants
to adapt but the inability of society to accept them.
A racist society says to immigrants: we want your labour, not
your lives. This is a
matter of official policy. Quota
systems which specify numbers from each country (with vastly higher
European than Asian or African immigration (but no limits on Latinos)
and then gradations among the European nations, with higher quotas for
more northwestern and Aryan countries) followed by periods of
exclusion acts, head taxes, and deportation efforts, and guest worker
programs were the norm in they years before 1965
(see Vijay Prashad's 'Karma of Brown Folk' for more details).
In the US, in 1965 the racial quota system was changed to
quotas for labourers that were required irrespective of country-- less
racist but with the 'labour not lives' principle intact.
The latest efforts to keep immigrants from becoming a part of
the community are: Proposition 187, which denies public services,
health and education, to immigrants in California; proposals to deny
citizenship to children of immigrants; the everyday work of the Border
Patrol and the Immigration and Naturalization Service; suggestions
that immigrants are the source of ecological destruction; and direct
action against immigrants, for example by the 'Dotbusters' of New
Jersey (who have attacked South Asians).
else could we do immigration? The
first and most important thing is to stop the push factors-- to stop
creating and maintaining third world poverty.NAFTA came into effect in 1994.
Since that year, there has been a 122% increase in Border
Patrol agents, and two thousand immigration inspectors have been
Reno Urges Putting Brake on Border Patrol Buildup, HOUS. CHRON., Mar.
10, 1999, at A1.) The second is to control the actions of employers.If any freedom is to be curtailed, it should be the freedom of
employers to seek the most desperate labour force wherever it is-- not
the freedom of people to travel or become a part of another community.
Without unemployment and underemployment, it is likely that few
people would uproot themselves from family, friends, and communities
to become a 'problem' for another society.
those who do, the multicultural approach is needed.
It will be discussed in more detail later, but an antiracist
society would allow immigrants the space and resources to reproduce
their own culture as well as the influence in the wider community to
share and participate fully. Denying
citizenship, health care, education, or employment opportunities would
be out of the question.
know that the opportunity to move is incredibly important for a
person's life chances. There
are plenty of reasons why people shouldn't
constantly move-- to build commitments to a place, to a community, to
stay with family-- but all these occur where people can move, but do
not. It is much harder to
feel at home in a place you are forced to be in.
is the issue for the ghettos, particularly the African American
ghettos. The question is
not whether black people want to live in a community with other black
people. The question is
do they have a choice about where they live at all.
answer this question, we have to look at how a family comes to live in
a place. Housing is
bought on a market. We
know from the economics section that black folks have less wealth and
less income to bring to a housing market.
But this is nowhere near the end of the ghetto-creation
process. Because even for
black folks who have money, it is difficult to learn about what
housing is available-- agents do not show black folks houses as often,
do not take them to the same houses, and show them different prices.
Everyone who buys a house does so on credit.
But banks do not give black folks the same rates of interest,
nor do they give them loans as often, nor do they insure their houses,
as they do for whites. Also
there is the routine harassment and violence experienced by people of
colour found in all-white neighbourhoods.
most insidious of all though, is the way daily prejudice creates and
maintains the ghetto. While most blacks say they would live in a 50%
black neighbourhood if they could, most whites (73%) say they would
not move to a neighbourhood if it was 1/3 black, and 41% say they
would try to leave. This
is the basic mechanism that maintains the ghetto-- once a certain
number of blacks enter a neighbourhood, whites begin to leave, until
the place becomes known as a 'black' neighbourhood, at which point
whites start to leave quickly, resulting in a ghetto.
of whites live in virtually all-white neighbourhoods and nearly 9 in
10 suburban whites live in communities less than 1% black.
12% of whites in law school today say they had significant
interaction with blacks when growing up.
(National Election Studies cited in Donald R. Kinder and Lynn
M. Sanders. 1996. Divided
by Color: Racial Politics and Democratic Ideals. University of Chicago
Press; John R. Logan and Harvey L. Molotch, 1987. Urban Fortunes: The
Political Economy of Place. University
of California Press; Dennis
R. Judd, 1999. "Symbolic
Politics and Urban Policies: Why African Americans Got So Little from
the Democats," in Adolph Reed J.r, ed. Without Justice for All:
The New Liberalism and our Retreat from Racial Equality. Westview
Press; George Lipsitz, 1998. The Possessive Investment in Whiteness.
Temple University; Gary Orfield and Dean Whitla, 1999.
"Diversity and Legal Education."
Harvard University Civil Rights Project.
same racism that led to white flight from black neighbourhoods ensures
that the ghettos that result receive the least in every kind of public
service, schools, health care, have the least political clout, and are
mistreated by every private institution as well.
A place full of people who are there because they have no
choice is not a community, and the conditions-- from the spatially
concentrated poverty to the lack of educational and housing options to
the higher prices for shoddy versions of everyday goods-- which
shopowners can get away with precisely because customers lack the
option to go elsewhere-- are not conducive to community-building.
were the first ghettos created? Just
after the civil war, the US was not a segregated country.
In the 1900s however, the Jim Crow system was established in
the south. In the north,
blacks-- many of whom had come north during reconstruction-- were
segregated by violent riots and lynchings, like the Tulsa riot
described above. After
WWII, the government's aid and Federal Housing Authority programs
designed to ensure housing for all and buy social peace were denied to
blacks. Thus blacks
struggled for civil and human rights in the 1960s in an already
segregated context. Their
struggles were met with class warfare and methodical police repression
(more on the police in the politics section).
governments of the US and Canada have no legal title to over 30% of
their territory. The
legal title for this land belongs to Native American nations according
to treaties made by the colonial governments or by the North American
governments with these Native American nations. In much of this
territory, native people are in a majority.
They are in a majority, on land that has natural resources--
mineral, energy, renewable-- which ought to make them, per capita, the
wealthiest people on the continent.
Instead, they are, by any quality of life indicator, the
mortality, education, health, environmental quality, hugely
disproportionate rates of incarceration, and social problems of
addiction and violence are typical of reserves.
(See Ward Churchill's 'Struggle for the Land')
Europeans arrived in the Americas, the native population was about 100
million, and the North American population about 10 million.
Today, after recovering from even lower levels, it is about 1
million. The 'demographic
collapse' is attributed to disease, most of the time.
What's neglected is that the disease was deliberately used in
some of the first biological warfare.
People were starved, worked to death as slaves, massacred time
and again, forcibly transferred from one area to another as uses for
their lands were found by ambitious settlers and their settler states.
(See Ward Churchill, 'A Little Matter of Genocide')
after year, government departments of 'Indian Affairs' discuss the
problems of poverty and disempowerment in native communities.
None of these reports recognizes that we have built our
societies on top of societies that have existed.
That we have built our societies by destroying peoples.
Consolidated our societies by consciously trying to exterminate
others. And that our
society continues along this path, waiting for them to disappear,
moving them where we want to, killing them when they resist.
is built on this lack of recognition.
If we faced this, we would have to change our program quite a
lot. We would have to
give up our right to evict people when we decided it was convenient
and consider a North America of many nations, self-governing nations
associating voluntarily, sharing resources according to justice and
some native lands are so degraded from industrial exploitation that
governments are calling them 'geographies of sacrifice'.
Ward Churchill suggests that this isn't just land that's being
sacrificed, but the people on it as well.
It's possible to contemplate sacrificing these lands and these
people, because it doesn't imply a sacrifice for white society.
The spatial separation of the societies means white society can
be insulated from the things that happen on reserves and reservations.
findings of this section are:
To maintain racism, races must be separated physically, or,
people of different races are in the same place, these places must be
under the political and economic control of whites.
This separation is accomplished by direct political action
(borders and immigration laws, reserve establishment and resettlement
of native people), and discrimination in housing markets (to establish
The consequences of the separation are: to insulate those who
have power from those who do not; to concentrate poverty and misery
and the conditions that make these things difficult to fight; to put
the truth of racism out of sight of those who might otherwise rebel
against it; to maintain economic inequality in general.
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