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Guido Newbrough died of an untreated staph infection in his heart. He was being held at the Piedmont Regional Jail in Farmville, VA.
[G]uards should have noticed that Mr. Newbrough was in critical condition as the bacteria colonizing his heart broke loose, creating abscesses in his brain, liver and kidneys.
…Several detainees interviewed by telephone last week said that in the two weeks before Thanksgiving, Mr. Newbrough’s back pain grew so bad that he began sobbing through the night, and some in the 90-man unit took turns making him hot compresses. By the Sunday before Thanksgiving, he was desperate, two detainees said, and banged at the door of the unit’s lunchroom, yelling for help. They said by the time guards responded, he was seated at a table.
“They told him to get up, and he said he couldn’t get up because he was in a lot of pain,” said Salvador Alberto Rivas, who identified himself as Mr. Newbrough’s bunk mate, awaiting deportation to El Salvador. “Because of the pain, he started crying, and he was trying to tell them he had put in requests for medical and didn’t get any. And then one of the guards threw him to the floor.”
“They drag him by his leg, in front of about 30 people,” said another detainee, who gave his name only as Jose for fear of retaliation, adding that many witnesses had since been transferred to other jails or deported.
“We didn’t know that he was dying,” added Jose, who wrote about the case in a letter published online by a Spanish weekly. “They took him to the hole. He was yelling for help in the hole, too.”
The New York Times has reported on other deaths in immigration detention due to medical neglect, including the Piedmont facility:
Hiu Lui Ng, died 8/08
Francisco Castaneda, died 2/26/08
Boubacar Bah, died 6/07
Abdoulai Sall, died 12/06
Young Sook Kim, died 9/11/06
Sandra M. Kenley, died 2005
There are many others. The Washington Post wrote recently that “Some 83 detainees have died in, or soon after, custody during the past five years…Actions taken — or not taken — by medical staff members may have contributed to 30 of those deaths…”
These are human lives we’re talking about. But somehow, when a person ends up in immigration detention, the value of their life declines. Jailers and immigration officials have been consistently cavalier about the deaths. From the NYT article: “Ernest L. Toney, the jail superintendent, denied accounts that Mr. Newbrough had been mistreated…” From CBS: Gary Mead, a senior immigration official, told the Congress that ICE provides “state-of-the-art medical care,” and “the best possible healthcare.”
I think my definition of “best possible healthcare” and Gary’s diverge.
Some good news! Somehow, the city of Seattle is funding a new domestic violence hotline aimed at getting help to immigrants and refugees. There will be 14 language options!
From the Seattle P-I:
Seattle is the first city in the nation to set up a toll-free number to connect immigrant and refugee domestic-violence victims to a social worker of their language and culture.
The help line, announced Wednesday, is called the “Peace in the Home” line.
…Domestic violence can be a big problem among immigrants, said Someireh Amirfaiz, the director of Refugee Women’s Alliance.
…Of roughly 600,000 Seattle residents, about 100,000 were born outside the United States, according to the mayor’s office.
The line will offer help in 14 languages: Amarinya or Amharic, Japanese, Khmer, Lao, Mandarin, Romanian, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, Tigrigna, Ukrainian and Vietnamese.
Cool. The number is 888-847-7205. Remember, this is for the Seattle area only.
From the New York Times:
The two brothers from Ecuador had attended a church party and had stopped at a bar afterward. They may have been a bit tipsy as they walked home in the dead of night, arm-in-arm, leaning close to each other, a common tableau of men in Latino cultures, but one easily misinterpreted by the biased mind.
Suddenly a car drew up. It was 3:30 a.m. Sunday, and the intersection of Bushwick Avenue and Kossuth Place in Bushwick, Brooklyn, a half-block from the brothers’ apartment, was nearly deserted — but not quite. Witnesses, the police said, heard some of what happened next.
Three men came out of the car shouting at the brothers, Jose and Romel Sucuzhanay — something ugly, anti-gay and anti-Latino…
The two brothers were Jose and Romel Sucuzhanay. While Romel broke away to find help, the three men beat Jose with a bottle and a baseball bat. By the time the men had run off and help arrived, Jose didn’t have a chance. He died today of his injuries.
Somewhere in Brooklyn are three men who will try to KILL you if they don’t like the way you look. You don’t even have to be gay or Latino. You just have to look gay or Latino. I guess appearing to be both is an unforgivable sin that requires an immediate death sentence.
I don’t have much further I can say, but how disappointed I am in my community.
Multiculturalism, by Jeremyville
I was inspired by a discussion over at Immigration Talk with a Mexican American to look at the different models of cultural integration of immigrants available to countries.
I learned that there are four models:
Monoculturalism: In some European states, culture is very closely linked to nationalism, thus government policy is to assimilate immigrants, although recent increases in migration have led many European states to experiment with forms of multiculturalism.
Leitkultur (core culture): A model developed in Germany by Bassam Tibi. The idea is that minorities can have an identity of their own, but they should at least support the core concepts of the culture on which the society is based.
Melting Pot: In the United States, the traditional view has been one of a melting pot where all the immigrant cultures are mixed and amalgamated without state intervention.
Multiculturalism: A policy that immigrants and others should preserve their cultures with the different cultures interacting peacefully within one nation.
Which do you think we use most often in the US? Which do you think is the best model, or can you envision one better than these options?
I of course grew up with the Melting Pot image seared into my brain. Immigrants come, they accept the clearly superior, far advanced mainstream American culture into their bosoms, and they give up all but the most harmless and amusing of their foreign-y culture that they grew up in. The fun bits of culture that they kept are then available for co-opting by any other American, and will, if the immigrant group is lucky, be commodified into new consumer goods! You give some, you get some.
I think my ideal would be similar to the multi-cultural model. As an immigrant, you aren’t required to give up any part of yourself. You can remain a whole person, and absorb new experiences however you wish. This model gives the immigrant complete freedom to choose their lifestyle within the new country. The only price is to respect others cultures as you would have them respect yours.
I imagine that a criticism of this model would be that immigrants won’t have to “assimilate.” I am not bothered by immigrants who “don’t assimilate”. As long as we all treat each other with respect and human dignity, I don’t care what language you prefer to speak, what clothing you like to wear, when and how and how often you pray, what kind of family you build. As neighbors, we will still interact with each other, and through our interactions, learn. Your personhood, your identity, should not be the price of a move across a border. Of course, I don’t believe in borders either. But that’s another post.
Your thoughts on these models of immigrant integration are encouraged!
The New York Daily News had a great article recently about a pending Domestic Workers Bill of Rights and the effects economic crisis has on this mostly female, often immigrant group.
Domestic Workers Earned Rights by Albor Ruiz appeared in the Daily News this past Friday, 11/28/08.
From the article:
A few horror stories have made the news: Domestic workers – nannies, housekeepers, cooks – beaten or kept as virtual prisoners by their employers – diplomats, lawyers, business owners. Respectable people, mind you; people of means, of social standing.
“Because you work in a private house, almost anything goes,” said Marilyn Marshall of Brooklyn, a nanny from Trinidad with the air of a kindly grandmother. “They don’t think of what you do as real work or of you as a real worker.”
That is why it is so important that the long overdue Domestic Workers Bill of Rights 2009 is approved.
The financial crisis has hit domestic workers – always among the most exploited – particularly hard, which makes passage of the bill urgent.
“We hear a lot about Wall Street and Main Street,” [Ai-Jen] Poo [an organizer for Domestic Workers United] said. “But nothing about what happens to domestic workers behind closed doors. We don’t hear anything about the 25,000 jobs that have been lost.”
Worse, she added, is that these workers have little protection under state labor laws. For the 200,000 domestic workers in New York, most of them immigrant women losing their jobs – usually with no advance notice or severance pay – has been devastating.
You read this story yet?
Marcelo Lucero was killed late Saturday night near the commuter railroad station in Patchogue, N.Y., a middle-class village in central Long Island. He was beaten and stabbed. The friend who crouched beside him in a parking lot as he lay dying, soaked in blood, said Mr. Lucero, who was 37, had come to the United States 16 years ago from Ecuador.
The police arrested seven teenage boys, who they said had driven into the village from out of town looking for Latinos to beat up. The police said the mob cornered Mr. Lucero and another man, who escaped and later identified the suspects to the police. A prosecutor at the arraignment on Monday quoted the young men as having said: “Let’s go find some Mexicans.” They have pleaded not guilty.
As disturbing as that is, I am also troubled by the New York Times’ follow-up article by Anne Barnard, Admired by Many, but to Police a Killer. The article bends over backwards to paint the group of boys involved as basically “good kids” who just got a little carried away during a rousing night of “jump the Mexican.”
Prosecutors say he admitted to the police that he fatally stabbed Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorean immigrant, on Nov. 8, after Mr. Conroy and six friends roamed the streets in search of Mexicans to beat up — a regular pastime that the group called “beaner jumping.”
No one is saying they didn’t do it, but it seems vital to this article’s author that it be known there isn’t a bigoted bone in these boys’ bodies, particularly Jeffrey Conroy, the one who did the stabbing. She lists non-white friends and family members of the young man, sounding a lot like the “I have a black friend!” defense. A relative is quoted as saying, “There is no prejudice in my family.” Jeffrey Conroy is even nice to his own half-brother, who is part Puerto-Rican! He plays Lacrosse! He wrestles! He gets along with his parents! He is “warm and patient with younger boys…”! He is “tall and muscular with a chiseled face and buzz cut…”!
Therefore the decision to “go find some Mexicans” is totally not based on racial hatred? How can it be interpreted in any other way? Especially considering that Mr. Lucero wasn’t even Mexican, he just looked Hispanic to his killers, and that was enough. All he did was look Hispanic in the wrong place and the wrong time to earn his death. How is that not racial?
A more appropriate NYT article from the same day as Barnard’s quotes fellow “bean-jumper” Jose Pacheco:
Mr. Pacheco later told the police, “I don’t go out and do this very often, maybe once a week,”
Aaahhh! So why is Barnard trying to paint these people as All-American Boys? It’s not like we’re not sure if they did it or not. That’s settled. How is their wrestling status at all related? This seems like a classic “boys will be boys” pass. Conroy is handsome, white, athletic, and well-liked. Therefore, let’s go easy on him, folks?
What about Marcelo Lucero? Uh, wasn’t he just as much a human being?
Bleh. Check out the Unapologetic Mexican’s post on this crime, Anti-Migrant Democrats Aiding Wave of Hate Crimes.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation resembling the following?
· You are a christian student and notice that there is an active atheist club on campus.
· You are white and see that there is a hip new bar in town catering to African-Americans.
· You were born in the U.S., but see a cool new social networking organization for young Vietnamese immigrants pop up in your area.
· You are a man and notice that there are now several vocal women’s safety organizations in your town.
· You are straight and you have become aware of a vibrant and edgy queer art scene in a neighborhood near you.
If you can identify with any of these scenarios, you are just one of many. Many people in society become aware of the interesting goings-on in marginalized or oppressed communities, and are naturally curious.
If your curiosity leads to a desire to find out more, you can turn into one of two people:
1. An awesome supporter and ally of a different community
2. A shitty co-opter who uses affiliation with a marginalized community to look “cool”.
YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE NUMBER TWO.
To be a supporter and ally:
Before attending a community’s event, try to find out if outsiders are even welcome.
Be prepared to learn, not to teach.
See how you can “bring something to the table” through promoting, donating, volunteering or working to end oppression experienced by the community.
Be thankful for the opportunity for an inside look at the community.
Keep your mouth shut- spend your time listening.
If members of an oppressed community decide to share information with you about how they experience discrimination, be supportive and affirm their feelings.
Make it clear that though you haven’t had the same experiences, you still value their perspectives.
Be open to experiencing things that will change the way you perceive larger society.
Be ready to work out differences.
To be a shitty co-opter:
Assume that outsiders are always wanted and welcome.
Tell members of the marginalized community what they should and shouldn’t be doing.
Steal ideas, style and strategies without offering anything in return.
Act like the community should be grateful simply for your presence.
Take up all the space by insisting on constantly being the center of attention.
Deny that members of marginalized communities experience discrimination or oppression, and tell them they are wrong to feel that way.
Pretend that you can fully understand all aspects of the situation of someone from an oppressed community.
Refuse to legitimately try to understand the perspective of the community in question.
Claim a the community’s identity as your own.
It’s about space. Co-opters actually hurt and further oppress the communities that they prey on by invading their space, whereas allies help them thrive. People who stand in a privileged position in society may learn to expect that they have a right to access any and all community space. They may also come to think that they know what’s best for communities that experience oppression. It is easy to feel this way when you are accustomed to society catering to your demographic’s needs, especially if you are white, male, christian, straight, or US-born, etc. Please be aware that people who do not share these characteristics with you have had very, very different experiences with our society. This is not a reason to distance yourself from marginalized or oppressed communities, but to instead practice being an effective ally.
© 3/31/08 idyllicmollusk