20 December 2012 ~ 0 Comments

Entitlement

I’m always fascinated with how Ruben Navarette hits the nail on the head but he’s actually not pinning two things together.

In due time, I’m sure the institutionalized youth part of the non-profit industrial complex will come out with some “strategic messaging” to counter this. They may even hit the nail on the head with some headline that resembles “we are fighting for our families and communities” and yet, fail to give a counter-narrative to Mr. Navarette.

Mr. Navarette is essentially right when he calls certain “Dreamers” entitled. There are certainly some in the so-called movement who think they are better than “the hardworking and humble folks who cut your lawn, clean your house or care for your kids.” He is also on the mark for noting that this entitlement exists because “Dreamers” are American. What he doesn’t divulge into is the entitlement that it takes for Americans to occupy a stolen land, make laws that exclude people from citizenship on the basis of race, gender, and sexuality, and demand that people assimilate to become a part of the fictionalized narrative of the American dream.

Why would anyone be surprised then, that some “Dreamers” act that very same way, with a better-than-thou mentality? They are mostly Americans after all. They are bound to have a “I am better than you” mentality. In order to become part of the fabric of America, “Dreamers” do need to show that they are better than the other kinds of immigrants. They need to show “exceptionalism.” And they need to show that they are not a threat to the establishment in order to become part of it. They need to show that they are essentially American. And in doing so, there will be people who get thrown underneath the bus.

But there is more going on here, in terms of entitlement. I’m sure that the same was said about the people of color who sat at the front of the bus to desegregate it, the people of color who took over lunch counter-tops at segregated restaurants and the people who wanted their kids to attend a whites-only school — “entitlement.” I am not drawing parallels to show that the situation “Dreamers” find themselves in is similar to segregation and apartheid. I am drawing parallels to show that minorities have historically been told that they are “not in their place” and think they are “entitled” when they start agitating for more than just crumbs.

Entitlement is not new or confined to Dreamers. This better-than-thou mentality comes from those in power. It comes from living in unequal conditions. And the history of oppression– ranging from lord and serf to master and slave to haves and have-nots–signals that such unequal conditions not only dehumanize and denigrate the ones at the bottom. They also dehumanize and denigrate the ones at the top, stripping them of both humanity and power. For real social transformation to happen then, certain people need to lose a lot of power that they feel entitled to and certain people need to gain power that has been historically denied to them. It is that entitlement to privilege and power at the top that prevents us from moving forward — not “Dreamers” with their demands to a pathway to citizenship.

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