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Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Face of Our Collective Conscience

I SAW AN AD for quaker oats this morning and in my oversensitive way, I noticed that two brown girls were tugging on the sleeve of the tall "Quaker" icon-man who was rolling away on a skateboard. Yes, it was surreal. But it got me thinking. It got me thinking on who has grown the maize round these parts for so long, and with such devotion. It got me thinking on who has helped whom survive when it came time to dress the dinner table. In the early days, "Indians" with the corn. Nowadays, the "Mexicans" in the fields, the meatpacking plants, the food service.

In this Quaker ad immediately adjacent to the Smiling Quaker Man were a couple Latinas, or maybe black girls. They were brown, that is clear. They were happily tugging on the tall pink-faced, white-haired icon-man's sleeve for some food. Oh, I know—you can tell that I am reading things into it that don't exist. That's part of my madness, you see. It comes with having beastly and primitive blood in me, it scrambles my mind up something terrible. Bear with me.

Anyway, with my infected reasoning, I thought it was quite clever how the ad flips things around in such a subtle way. The blacks, who were the engines of industry and production early in this country's growth (as were others, of course). The Indians, the masters of grain. Hell, even Americans are not completely unaware of this. I think there's a holiday that has something to do with this idea.

But children today will look at ads like this, and somewhere in their mind, a message is planted...and with other media messages, this message will be watered...and fed...and eventually, with the help of a hundred other broken symbols, sown into a self-loathing or simply inferior self-image (for brown) and superior self-image (for pinks). (This is why the billboards look so different in Harlem, for example!) Nevermind the truth of any of these images that affect people's minds, young and old alike. Nevermind that the Quakers themselves resent the use of their honest image and name for these business practices. Nevermind that Quaker oatmeal company was sued (and lost) for carrying out secret radioactive food experiments on developmentally disabled children without telling them or their parents. Hey, but kids love that Quaker man, eh?

Images. Symbols. Lies covered up by smiles. And acrobatic logic. And lo, our history and accumulated media messaging and literature, even, are but monsters always hungry for truth—eat it up and shits out what is handed back to me and you. It's a meal that we don't only want for breakfast, though. We'll eat it all day long.

img We hear Lou Dobbs rant on and on about the demon Mexican Alien. Lou is knowingly telling lies to the public to incite them against the very people who already make up a huge part of the American labor force. People who are exploited for their labor, squeezed for their income tax payments, vilified by pundits, dehumanized by being called ALIENZ, brown people—American citizens—becoming (even more so) the target of aggression, the rage is growing, the fear is growing. Men like Lou Dobbs live on this fear. They are the modern-day demons.

Lou uses an age-old White Supremacist method of equating the darkies with contagion. Buchanan does it, too, in his book State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America. (I wrote a satirical response to that book which is due to be published in June, I believe.)

But yes, the contagion, the filth, the dirtiness, the disease. Buchanan used the idea to suggest that all the brown people handling your burgers in fast food joints are giving you secret gifts of disease. Dobbs calls Mexicans lepers and stands by his "Facts®," even when it is clear that his information is entirely false.

And with thoughts of the "contagion" meme that these "pundits" love to use against my people, my mind flips back to Tenochtitlán, and the smallpox that the Spaniards brought to the land we call "Mexico," the contagion that destroyed massive amounts of Mixteca (Aztecs). And I think, then, Who has such disease in their history? Disease that has aided their greedy and bloody conquest? Was it the darkie? Was it the Invading Mexican?

I and I build the cabin
I and I plant the corn
didn't my people before me slave for this country?
now you look me with that scorn
and you eat up all my corn ...

—bob marley, crazy baldheads

Lou pays hundreds for his hair, and powders his puffy face trying to retain the appearance of beauty. He spreads a mental and spiritual rot, he profits from doing so, and others suffer. A great example of today's media conglomerates. They lead us into war, they lead us into hate, they take us nowhere but down, and they do it with nothing but saturated graphics, twisted chyrons, and happy sounds.

Symbols inverted. Truth perverted. Today's media, the face of our collective conscience.

You have been enraged by nezua lim├│n xolagrafik-jonez, who just this once steals his tagline from R. Mildred, and normally blogs as The Unapologetic Mexican.

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