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Web Letter

As a Southern black, I was ammused after reading the Juan Crow article. Yes, latinos in the South face discrimination and hate groups, much like blacks post- Civil War. And yes, Latinos are economically disadvantaged and do not enjoy civil liberties much like their darker predecessors a century ago. But the similarities end there.

First, America has shown a disdain for immigrants, especially those that are forced to, or will work for, lower wages. Europeans, as fair-skinned as Americans, faced the same worries, hatred and civil difficulties after their mass migration into the Northeast and eventually Midwest. Go through any medium-to-large market city in America and you are likely to see the remnants of where these groups migrated in small areas that would later be named after their ancestory. We could continue the list from Asians to Middle Easterners and so on, but the bottom line is, America does not open its arms to immigrants. While this nation is seen as a melting pot, the ability for a foreign-born non-citizen to assimilate is almost impossibe.

Secondly, the main distinction between Jim Crow and the cutely named Juan is that blacks had no choice. Essentially, black Americans were either dropped off by the boat, sold and forced into hard labor, or were born into forced labor. Even if blacks wanted to go back home after emancipation and what amounted to just ink on paper in the form of the Thirteenth Amendment, it would not have been economically feasible, and America was not offering boat rides back to Africa. Latin Americans are here by choice. More importantly, Juan Crow is not birthed from centuries of hatred, mistreatment and inequity, to continue the aforementioned autrocities. Jim Crow was.

The troubling part of the article is that is seems to lump all immigrants together into one group. It fails to distinguish between the civil rights of legal immigrants and human rights that seem self-evident. Lovato focuses energy on the hatred Latinos face, and portrays America as if it were on a witchhunt for every brown-skinned, Spanish-speaking person. Yet Lovato seemingly ignores that while legal immigrants face discrimination in a country that practices it, there has been ongoing debate about illegal immigration, which is problematic. If Lavato wants to argue human rights, that's one thing. But to draw a senseless comparison, and argue civil rights without distinguishing legality is an injustice both to blacks who suffered Jim Crow and to legal immigrants.

William Roberts

Nashville, TN

Jun 12 2008 - 1:17pm

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