Mexico: February 2008 Archives
I learn by talking with friends and watching films. And occasionally, I run across a book that brings it all together. Last week, I finally picked up Across a Hundred Mountains, a book I bought a year ago when I met the author, Reyna Grande, at a writers' conference. As unfortunate as it was that I let it sit on the shelf for a year, the path I've been on recently, receiving much more input from and about the struggles of brown people, prepared me better to be open to this novel about being Mexican on both sides of the border.
When I came out of the sweat lodge in Tlxacalancingo last year and got hosed down, someone thrust an orange into my hands and before I knew it, I had eaten at least two, maybe three. I was ravenous for the sweet juicy pulp.
My mind reacted to Grande's book much like my body reacted to those oranges. I woke up to it and went to bed with it at night until it was finished, thinking about it during the day while I craved to see what the next chapter would bring.
Publishers Weekly calls it, "A topical and heartbreaking border story...Two stories cross and re-cross in unexpected ways, driving toward a powerful conclusion."
Thanks to This Week In History, I learned that there was a mass deporting of Mexicans nearly eighty years ago, implementing many of the same techniques and for many of the same reasons as the current rash of anti-immigrant governmental practices.
"A national program of deportation began in 1928 and peaked in 1931. Secretary of Labor William N. Doak instigated a scare campaign against Mexicans with immigration officers, local police and newspapers publicizing deportation “raids” as a way to frighten Mexicans into leaving voluntarily. Dr. Jorge Chinea writes that one problem with the mass departure lay in the fact that it included legal and illegal immigrants, temporary workers and permanent residents, U. S. citizens and aliens."
Sound familiar? Find out more at the El Paso Community College Local History Project.