Tag: Border

Jason’s Ten-Dollar Word of the Day

I spent a lot of the day today doing work, copy editing for a number of different people mostly. While I could go on about why that made me late for getting this post out into the world, that would be boring.

Plus anyone reading this after tonight probably wouldn’t care in the first place. So I’m just going to not do that.

Instead I’m going to pull out an interesting tidbit from one of my jobs today and expand on it.

See, while doing a copy edit for a story coming out of Boom sometime soon regarding the current discussions about separating immigrant children from their parents at the border (a topic I don’t plan to delve too deeply into here, don’t worry) I found there were a few words I had to look up to see if they were being used correctly.

One such word stood out in particular because it gave me a more proper term to use for something which otherwise I’ve always treated in a casual manner.


Proselytize

Intransitive Verb form

  1. To induce someone to convert to one’s faith.
  2. To recruit someone to join one’s party, institution, or cause.

Transitive Verb form

  1. To recruit or convert especially to a new faith, institution or cause.

via the Merriam-Webster dictionary


Basically, when the Jehovah’s Witnesses come to your house to talk with you about their faith, they are proselytizing.

The term extends further than just religious door-to-door salesmanship, however. It’s also a politician’s term, a social movement’s term, an industrialist’s term, so on and so forth.

Funny enough, the word actually reminded me of a story I wrote back in 2013 for the High Tide. Julian Stern, a kid who I’d known through being a school acquaintance for some time by then, was running for City Council while just 18 years old.

Very specifically I recall him spending some time in my house to do the interview because he happened to be going door-to-door campaigning in my neighborhood at the time. It was an interesting interview to be sure, and I actually wound up reflecting that in the lede to my article.

You can read the article here, by the way. Bottom right-hand corner of page three.

Looking back on it now I probably would have been laughed out of my high school newsroom for trying to use a term like “proselytize” in my story, but it would’ve fit quite well as a more specific, mature term.

Of course the average reader more easily understood that he was “selling himself rather than magazines,” and that’s why it was the better choice to go with, but still. I would like to see myself use proselytize in a sentence sometime soon.

Also, don’t read too much into my saying ‘selling himself.’ I know you internet, you’ll make anything dirty, but this is not the time.

Stop it.

Well that’s my ten-dollar word of the day. I actually enjoy seeing things like ‘words of the day’ on every online dictionary and goofy calendar ever made, so I might just try to do this again next time I find a new word that’s interesting. If you’d like to see more of it, or if you learned an interesting new word today yourself, let me know down in the comments!

Stereotyping and the Mexican/American Border

800px-Border_Mexico_USA
The border wall between the San Diego sewage treatment plant built to clean the Tijuana River (left) and the city of Tijuana, Baja California (right).  [Image Courtesy of Sgt. 1st Class Gordon Hyde]
“When Mexico sends its people, they aren’t sending their best … They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with [them]. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime – They’re rapists.”

Donald Trump said this when he announced he was running for president in June 2015. It took him 18 seconds to say and I would be surprised if anyone has forgotten this blatantly racist statement.

Stereotypes, as a political tool, have been used to oppress people since before written records were even kept. They’re typically overgeneralized ideas about a group of people used to demean them and incite public ridicule or shunning. Undoubtedly, stereotypes have been used in terrible, awful ways throughout history. However, some – regardless of the way they’re used – are based on some aspect of reality.

This is the nature of overgeneralization. For example, a staple of Anti-Semitism is identifying a Jew as having a “giant nose”. Groups like the Nazis used this depiction (among other things) in their propaganda, which drove the Holocaust, an event too horrible for words. Yet, as a Jew myself, I’ve met many members of the tribe who exhibit the “giant nose” trait. It’s a plausible generalization, which makes it an easy target for stereotyping.

Just because a stereotype is sometimes true does not mean it’s the rule for all members of a group. Donald Trump followed up his ridiculous comments by attempting to soften them, saying “some, I assume, are good people.” At least he acknowledges exceptions to his insidious rules – but should something like this be considered an exception?

Chantal Akerman’s 2002 film “From the Other Side” talks to people on both sides of the Mexican/American border, people of all ages and sizes. While I felt the presentation of the 100-minute documentary was hard to get through, the power of the people interviewed on the Mexican side of the border was compelling.

Be it the elderly couple talking about their dead son or the young boy who failed at his attempt to cross the border alone in the growing security of a post-9/11 world; all the stories told shared a common thread, the struggle and loss of family in trying to find a better life through The American Dream. None of those whose stories were told are recognizable as the criminals or rapists Trump hoped to paint with his blanket statement.

That’s not to say there aren’t such criminals trying to cross the border from Mexico into the United States. With such a large basket, there are bound to be some bad eggs. This doesn’t mean we should judge the whole group like bad eggs are the norm, however. Every individual is different.

In Alfredo Corchado’s three part “Faces from the Border” series, published in the New Yorker in 2015 (Part 1 / 2 / 3 ), he shows that this mentality can apply not only to the immigrants, but to those guarding the border as well. Many who guard the border are children of Mexican immigrants themselves, yet they’re just as determined to deter illegal immigration. While there are some problem officers, as shown with the story of Margarita Crispin (a border guard who helped sneak drugs across the border), most are honorable people doing a difficult job to the best of their abilities. They all have their own stories just like the immigrants wanting to cross into the United States.

In a time of Globalization, where information is instantly available anywhere at any time, it can be difficult know what is truth or fiction. Entire groups of people can be summed up by statistics and figures on the World Wide Web, and anonymous people feel free to express their own thoughts and opinions without repercussion.  If we want to one-day move past stereotypes, anger and stigmatization, we need to remember that every individual has a unique life story, whether they’re anonymous or not. While lives may be similar in nature, it’s unfair to believe you know another solely due to things like their upbringing or skin color.


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