Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Waking up with Geraldo Rivera

This morning I awoke to the sounds of Geraldo Rivera being interviewed on National Public Radio about his new book, Hispanic. Geraldo grew up in New York in the 1970s, the son of a Jewish mother and Puerto Rican father. Describing his book, Rivera says, "it is one of my proudest achievements because it exposes how the hysterical anti-immigration propaganda campaign that has infected our nation's political dialogue is based on lies and distortion, false statistics and race-baiting."

What a hot button topic! Living near Los Angeles during the immigration reform votes of 2006, I remember Latino students marching out of their high schools and across cities in protest. Some were true activists and others simply wanted out of class. One of my colleagues at the time came to the U.S. as a child, as an undocumented Mexican immigrant. As a young adult she was accepted to UCLA and earned her Ph.D. When the high school students marched past my office window she rushed to my desk and watched excitedly. She joined them later at a rally, and told them how years ago she wouldn't have dared speak out in a crowd because she lived in fear. But now she now wanted to put a face on the topic of illegal immigration, because that's what she felt was being lost in the controversy--the people and their stories.