Desnee Flakes's Blog

That Noise You Hear Is Real Talk For Real People

Desnee Flakes

Desnee Flakes
Aiken, South Carolina, US
December 04
I am a recently employed activist who has been writing all my life about the issues that mean the most to me. My interests lie in politics, parity, race, and history. I believe that each of those things are interconnected and that only when we look straight at something do we actually see it. My politics are left of center, and I don't rely on any movement to define where my center is. My father taught us to measure others with the same yardstick you measure yourself.


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MARCH 7, 2012 3:35AM

Black Leadership Jumping Off The Edmund Pettus Bridge

Rate: 8 Flag







"There is a reality that all low-wage workers-

Black, white, and Latino-are in competition with

each other for jobs. Forty percent of African-

American workers are stuck in low wage, service

sector jobs. These are also the jobs that

employers are most likely to seek out

undocumented workers to fill. This isn't the fault

of the undocumented; this is the reality of the

capitalist economy."



So writes Keeanga Yamahtta Taylor in the July-

August 2006 issue of International Socialist

Review. The premise being that the

"undocumented," the new euphemism for illegal

immigrant, has a legal right to seek work and

compete with the most under-employed

Americans. This is magical thinking. It is the

kind of magical thinking that prompted a

gentleman on NPR to state that Blacks have

benefitted in Los Angeles from the immigrant

population; his reasoning was that Blacks now

have a bigger portion of the public sector jobs,

because they speak English. What he didn't say is

that Los Angeles has lost half of the Black

population since 1970 in large part due to

immigration. The same can be said for New

York, which has lost Black population while

gaining a White one because of European

immigration and Hispanics who identify as



Social scientist have long tried to conceal that with the influx of an illegal population what follows is Black flight. The reason in my opinion is should Blacks ever begin to question the benefits of illegal immigration to Blacks, we will find there is little to recommend it. The history of immigration legal or otherwise has long been the bain of Black existence in America.


The 1919 Race Riots in Chicago, the worst in the state's history, were caused due to racial tensions between ethnic White immigrants and Blacks. The riot was due to a young Black man being killed for inadvertently rowing his boat at an "informally" segregated beach. But the tensions were sparked due to competition for jobs and housing in and around the stockyards. Richard J. Daley, the Chicago Mayor who issued a shoot to kill order during the 1968 riots following the death of Martin Luther King; was a 17 year old active member of an ethnic Irish club named as instigators of violent attacks on Blacks, in the investigation that ensued the riots. 


Susan Olzak wrote in Labor Unrest, Immigration, and Ethnic Conflict 1880-1914 that immigration, economic downturn, and contagion processes all raise the rate of ethnic conflict. So the question I want to ask is why are Black "leaders" in an effort to bring attention to the erosion of The Voting Act obscuring the issue by including Alabama's Immigration law? I believe many see their districts changing, and in an effort to maintain their own power are willing to throw their current constituents from the train. Our very right to vote is guaranteed by an Act. But the same "undocumented" immigrants they are marching for if granted an amnesty will have the full voting rights of other citizens without an ACT of Congress. 


Black people especially those who have never competed for jobs with illegal immigrants have the weight of our own history on our backs. And because of it people tend to support the fight for "civil rights" which is really the fight to circumvent the law. And by the way, that fight includes circumventing Title VII of the Civil Rights Act as well. The whole purpose of Title VII was to ensure that the old boy network used by Whites to keep Blacks from jobs would end. What has happened is the old boy network has been replaced with network hiring. I know how it works because I've seen it in action. Your boss stops letting all the employees know when there will be an opening he only tells his illegal help or they tell each other when they are leaving. 


In horseracing we not only had to train the people who were taking our jobs, when they became a majority they would tell the boss they didn't need the 1 day we had off. You could count on a decrease in pay or an extra horse which amounts to a decrease in pay and an increase in work; because you want or need to keep your job. Nowadays the majority of the labor is Hispanic, track management pays for immigration lawyers to council the help on how to circumvent the law (I've spoken to them they encourage their clients to lie). In the meantime the only people who are allowed to speak to the issue are either the beneficiaries of the coming amnesty or people who have never had to compete for these jobs.



History repeats itself, the simple reason that Black Latinos aren't cast as Hispanic is because there is a major effort to assimilate Hispanics into the mainstream. The reason is the majority identify as White. The last century was fraught with ethnic tension which eventually faded as each group moved into the mainstream culture.

I'm linking two articles on the march one will focus on those who marched back in 1965 still in the struggle to ensure their right to vote. The other will show a movement that has angled to conflate the rights of non-citizens with those of the least represented citizens, and our struggle for our rights as citizens.  I fully support the civil rights granted to all citizens under the law. I don't support a group so desperate to find a winning argument for the variety of laws they've broken, that they hijack an event soaked in the blood of my people. And I don't support Black "leaders" who do precious little to motivate their natural constituents and therefore have to form untenable coalitions. Once our purpose has been served we will find little support for full Black employment with La Raza or any of the other organizations working towards an amnesty. And no one will remember that amnesty was carried on the backs of Blacks





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I understand your argument perfectly well. One thing is clear to me: if the underlying racial animosity between blacks and Latinos is not addressed, it will result in voilence. More to the point, unacknowledged racial animosity is a cancer that eats away at both groups, indeed, the entire populatrion. That's why Republican racism is so destructive; they try (ineptly) to hide it, and the hatred festers. My feeling is that the answer is to both create new jobs and bring jobs back to the USA through an aggressive strategy of carrots and sticks. Obama could do this in his second term. However, illegal immigration is simply wrong--on many levels. It must be stopped. Again, Obama could address this more vigorously in a second term.

Black leadership? When a man like Herman Cain can rise to prominence, you know that black leadership is in serious trouble. Cain should have been vigorously denounced by black leadership and the black community. Was he? Obama is a great leader but he is in the White House and cannot assume the mantle in the community and at the grassroots, till the end of his term or terms in office.

That's my view.
Thanks Patrick but just to make sure I view this issue as still a Black/White issue. Hispanics can self identify as either or they can claim SOR (some other race). So the minority designation is a false one. Hispanic is an ethnic origin not a racial one. That being said they are no more or less a minority that say Jewish people. But all the forces of popular culture, media, and politics have come together to create a false argument to obfuscate their true intentions. America has always had an immigration policy which has been designed to maintain a White majority. If we can ferret out terrorist, we can control our borders, but we have to have a will. So illegal immigration has been a policy for over 30 years. Even the 2000 Census which is always quoted as having said Hispanics will be the majority within 50 years, the end of that sentence says because they will be counted in the White majority. How can a race occupy both a majority and minority position? They can't but an ethnic group can. I want the whole immigration system overhauled so that race is no longer the driving factor.

Black leadership is a myth. President Obama will never be a Black leader his sensibilities are more in line with those of a couple of White WWII survivors. He strikes the wrong tone for many Blacks when he chooses to address us, which isn't very often. He would have to become a different man after his term of office to be an effective Black leader. And I somehow doubt that is the direction he is headed.
This is a tricky issue, and you make a good argument for your case.

In my work life, I serve a richly diverse student population. Some are children of non-citizens. Through them, I have become educated about the underground lives their families lead, twelve hour work days, repetitive work injuries, no ability to see a doctor and no sick days, life in apartment communes with double digit number of residents. Nobody is having a good time.

It feels equally important to be able to contribute to their child's college education as it is to any child. How people come here doesn't matter much to me, and the fact that they can is one of the reasons I love this country, at a time when there isn't much to love. As someone who has known discrimination and suffering, would you have others treated with the same?
Not to ignore the point of your post, and things are rather different here in Canada where the bulk of immigrants don't look 'white' (Asian - Chinese and Indians, plus Africans and Caribbeans ... very few 'Latinos', hardly any Euros), but this whole train-your-successor is a widespread problem. I have a friend, standard middle-class Canadian WASP, who worked for many years in a manufacturing firm (you see what's coming?) who was asked to go to China for a year to train people there on how to do his job, after which he'd be, of course, unemployed. (He declined, and became unemployed immediately.) The plutocrats are totally fixated on profits, not at all on national or human interests, and will be playing off ethnicities or WHATEVER WORKS to their own benefit. Less visibly with my friend, whose job has vanished overseas, and more visibly with jobs that can't be exported. (Can't ship jobs to Third World? Bring Third World here......and let our populations become Third World.) It's a 'beautiful' system, since the people being used will cooperate by sticking to their own instead of forming coalitions...until it's too late...

In the U.S., 'of course' black people end up on the bottom, White House occupant notwithstanding. Sometimes I think the Black Muslims had the right idea: withdraw, form own communities. At any rate, all our institutions and aspects of society (which it looked like black people were finally getting a toe-hold in) are gonna be trashed, and unforeseen things will rise out of the ashes. One of them will have to be a way for unemployed disenfranchised people (of all races, cuz this is gonna be total) to take care of themselves and each other when The Country no longer can or will.
Greenheron the question for me isn't one where I support discrimination in fact it is one where I am stating that the discrimination that is taking place is still against the descendants of slaves. It is cloaked in a false argument about granting the rights of citizenship to those who aren't citizens, while using the protections that were built into the system for those citizens who have yet to be granted full rights of citizenship. By ignoring the fact that these protections specifically Title VII of the Civil Rights Act are not being enforced, and saying we can ameliorate everyone regardless of their legal designation for me is a slap in the face of those people who originally marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge seeking the rights granted All Citizens. To conflate illegal immigration in any way with the civil rights violations that Black citizens have faced since coming to these shores is a non-starter for me. I have never known within the community that I worked in the inability of illegal immigrants to seek medical help because doctors don't ask for status, also because the communities I worked in had clinics which had specific days where Spanish speakers were the only patients they took. Also I hear about living in the shadows but I know plenty of people here illegally who have more money in the bank, drive new cars, and who travel freely. Living in the shadows is what runaway slaves did and they didn't have the full force of the Chamber of Commerce, the Catholic Church (who is funded by the government based on Census numbers to provide social services specifically to illegal aliens, their term) the media, and elected officials looking out for their interest. Also there are studies that show empirical and anecdotal evidence that immigrants openly discriminate in their hiring practices and state to employers they don't wish to work with native Blacks. Here is a great article on how the information is skewed in the favor of illegal immigrants for the purpose of promoting a narrative that is false. I actually wrote an article on this issue that was published in the same journal. You can't view it online but you can view the letters to the editor in response to articles that were published before mine.
Myriad, agreed however history also shows us that whenever Blacks have formed coalitions eventually though gains are made we still suffer the same treatment once the "other" achieves their goal. West Virginia coal miners are a good example, that's where Blacks and Whites stood together against great odds to form their union. Today when you see stories about the coal mines you never see a Black person included in their ranks.
I would like to ask this question, if Americans need references and at least a high school education to get a job, how are people who average a 6th grade education with no references (except a family member), and who have a language barrier able to get jobs that Americans are unable to get?
Your arguments are sound, and your points are well made. Still, I believe the non-citizen issues we both mention are true: illegal citizens with money in the bank and a fancy car to drive, and also illegal citizens crammed a dozen to an apartment and working while sick and injured. I have see them jostling for clothing at the local mission, and learned about them from people who grew up in this way. Maintenance of their invisibilty is the point.

Here is the thing: our politics are considered radical. Long ago, I accepted that the kind of person I felt should run this county was a dream. So then what? Year after frigging year of puffy white men as presidential candidates, until incredibly, there are Hillary and Obama, a woman and a black man, duking it out for the nomination. I still can hardly believe I was fortunate enough to live to see that.

While Obama does not do everything I wish he would, and does things I wish he wouldn't, regardless, he broke the ceiling, and the next crop of people are growing up thinking a black man in the White House is a completely natural thing. You and I may not reap the benefits of that much, but people coming up the line will.
A most difficult problem.
I wasn't talking about rich people greenheron I was talking about co-workers, and partly because they live in groups, they have the ability to pool money for necessities and save for luxuries. Right here in my town two of the employers who have hired illegal help are also volunteer sheriffs. What are the chances their co-workers are coming after them for violating the law?
Also let me put this in a different way do you think a Gay Republican is an oxymoron? If the answer is yes would the reason be because they support a party that doesn't have their best interest at heart? Well in my lifetime the Democrats and Black leaders have worked against the interest of Black people after the 1960s, the only time we get any attention is during election years, even with a Black President. His interest come first, that's to be reelected. When he stood before a Black audience and said take off your house slippers and get to work (for him), I was spitting daggers. I worked hard for his election he hasn't addressed the disparity in the Black/White income gap or wealth or the root causes of it. He's too afraid to address racism because he knows it will turn off that part of his base who isn't effected by it. What we have found out as a nation is if we ever again elect a Black President, and possibly a woman that the attacks will be fierce, and they will be spurious as well ( imagine the new and different ways to say slut without saying slut). I think what we are seeing is that when White men feel threatened they will go to great lengths to level the playing field in their favor, and in the process destroy a nation to do it.
Some of my Mexican American friends don't like the "Latino/Hispanic" labels. Cuban & Puerto Rican Americans and also don't care for the same as it denotes segregation from White, Black and Native Americans.

We're all North Americans. We're all humans. Why is it that we're not all equals I ponder...and what to do, when to do it, and where and why are matters we can consider so that our "anchor children" will one day be accepted as "naturalized citizens".
Belinda maybe because the 14th Amendment is what grants that citizenship. As I'm sure you know that Amendment was written in response to the Dred Scott verdict. But ultimately it is one of the many arteries that stem from the body of the issue of race, assimilation and amalgamation, which form the basis of all American policies. Once we can kill the who gets to be White question, then we can correct the other issues.
Our own government is partly to blame. When applying for employment, or the varying questionnaire forms [IRS, US Census, Visas, employment documents re legal statuses], the boxed areas generally consist of several national origins. There's even the "multi-racial" box which I've been tempted to check. ;) After all, I do have a drop or three of African in me.
I hear you. If I am disappointed in the fulfillment of Obama’s promises, you have reason to be doubly disappointed. His candidacy stirred up hope and high expectations, but especially for black people. Sometimes I wonder what Hillary might have done for women. Given the force and push of the GOP on women’s issues at present, I suspect we might be just as disappointed in her. Politics is not a career for humanists. To aspire to high political office, I suspect a person must be dealing with one or more personality disorders to begin with. A couple years before Obama ran, I read his memoir and realized he was a nice guy and a sane human being. Maybe his biggest political disqualification is that.

About gay Republicans–I’m an artist living in a town with a lively gay community, in the first state to legalize gay marriage. I do know gay Republicans, even a black gay Republican, who no big surprise, works for Fidelity Investments. He and his husband have adopted seven children of various ages, colors, and health conditions, children and teenagers who are unwanted by young couples interested in brand new babies. He is raising his family to enjoy the fruits of a privileged Republican life: one stay at home parent, igadgetry, pastel Izod shirts, Bermuda vacations, Ivy league educations, etc. I admire B’s family values, his kindness and open mind, yet we cancel one another out at the polls. BTW, no one laughs more than he does at his oxymoronicism (word?).