Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Message

Clearly, I've been obsessed with politics lately, because it seems like there is so much to lose. That there is an ambition and determination by some folks to turn the clock back seventy years. That a number of people are comfortable with how life was in 1950 when women didn't have sex before marriage, when marriage was between a man and a woman, when woman didn't have many ambitions outside of the home, where gay people didn't exist, where black people were maids, and where Hispanics were basically domiciled in their banana republics never to be seen and certainly not heard.I imagine life was simpler in the 1950s. It was more of a lock step. And yet. Yet, people were challenging that in literature. Gore Vidal. Truman Capote. Norman Mailer. All men, sadly enough. It took some time before all that smoke screen was blown away from that fantasy to reveal that June Cleaver was pounding back a fifth of whiskey a day and Ward Clever was trying desperately not to go crazy as he did that nine-to-five dance.

So it's down to the message. And isn't that what writing is about? Crafting a message so that people will listen. I write fluffy little beach reads that probably don't have a ton of "message," but I tried to put in some context about working with illegals and what that means without getting all "soapboxy." I can tell you that I saw red when Mr. Romney began talking about "self-deporting." Like all these illegals would risk their effing LIVES to come to this country if they had a choice. I can't tell you the number of conversations I've had with Latinos who come here because, hello, they have no choice. They want to eat, and they want to have a roof over their heads. No one wants to be in exile. So, yes, I tried to craft my beach reads with something of an insight into what it means to be illegal in this country.

Fortunately, my parents, who immigrated in the 1950s, were white. They also had skills that were marketable (a doctor and a nurse, respectively), and the U.S. welcomed them with open arms, given that they had sponsors. However, they also didn't feel they had much choice. Britain was still rationing in 1954, a concept I'm sure that Americans have trouble with, but it was a salient point in my parents' decision to leave. In fact, out of the three boys in my father's family all THREE sons immigrated. In my mother's family, two out of her four siblings immigrated. People don't leave their families and their homes because, hello, they want to wear Rolex watches and drive Cadillacs. They leave because they don't have much choice.

So my wee little, barely known mysteries touch on these issues. In my experience the majority of the people I worked with were fleeing war-torn countries (thank you, Ollie North) and/or crushing poverty. By that stupid, stupid remark, Mr. Romney yet again reveals his profound ignorance on what motivates those who are NOT to the manner born.

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