Go Back to Puerto Rico?!

(Originally a Tweet thread. Posted here because not everyone is on Twitter):

The #GoBacktoPuertoRico comment, response, and reporting has my blood boiling and heart hurting. A thread on the comments and why this moment is important for #Latinx solidarity across geographical/racial/ethnic difference.

I am raging at @RepJasonSmith specifically, and the #GOP generally (perpetually) b/c of the irreverent #antiBlackness and #whitesupremacy of the comment shouted on the House floor, the way his identity was protected (at first), and how folks are reporting on it now.

We can’t be satisfied with a call for “civility” and descriptions of the comment as having #racist “implications” or “undertones” (a la @LeaderHoyer) or reports that deem the comment as “potentially” racist (caption under his photo in @washingtonpost).

There are a lot of us who would love to #GoBacktoPuertoRico but 121 years of US imperialism (extraction, exploitation, epistemicide) makes repatriation an (almost) impossible task. But I digress.

I could care less about #civility. Civility is an impossibility under a (settler) colonial regime. Once again (@SteveKingIA now claims his freedom of speech was assaulted) we are meant to tolerate a politician who shows his blatant racism and then apologizes *using tacit racism.*

@RepJasonSmith‘s apology for telling @RepCardenas to #GoBacktoPuertoRico is a micro…strike that…it is an aggression. The only reason calling it a “vacation” works as a strategy for admonition is b/c it relies on the centuries old racist accusation of Brown/Black “laziness.”

There is nothing new in these comments, so I won’t expend any more energy trying to convince folks that a racist is a racist. I’m interested in energizing the radically diverse Latinx community to come together across our differences, not be divided by them.

We have a lot of consciousness-raising work to do WITHIN the Latinx community; I am not the first to say this, clearly. I’m watching @RepCardenas’ response and reading how he is being praised for it, how folks are choosing to uplift him.

And I have to say: mi gente, we have to think critically about how we respond when racialized geopolitics (that Puerto Ricans are not “of the U.S.” but Mexican Americans are) is weaponized to divide and conquer us.

While we criticize @RepJasonSmith, it is important to hold @RepCardenas accountable for the way his response “that he was born and raised from CA” further exacerbates the oppression of all Latinx people, and Puerto Ricans in particular.

Make no mistake: to a white supremacist Brown is Brown, within an imperial construct of difference the Brown here (in the empire) is just as disposable and backward as the Brown there (in the colony).

Is it surprising this comment comes at a time when the government is literally shut down over a border wall meant to keep “those” Brown folk out?

@RepCardenas The move is not to remind the public of your “hereness” by emphasizing your non-Puerto Ricanness (fueling an ethnic/cultural antagonism between MAs and PRs)…the move is unapologetic #solidarity.

To his credit, part of his response was to mention the situation in Puerto Rico and why they were there, but the *emphasis* was on his difference from Puerto Ricans like the only reason it was offensive was he is not *that* kind of Latino.

The question we could be asking in instances like these when Latinxs are pitted against one another: how does dividing Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans reinforce white settler colonialism? How does it uplift white supremacy? How does it further our collective oppression?

We will never be free if we continue to use the logics of difference (created to subordinate us) to make us visible, acceptable, included.

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