Language is the tool we use to frame our thoughts and thought processes. Every time we use, or tolerate the use around us of the terms “illegal” and “illegal alien” we are allowing white American nationalists, white racists, to speak from our mouths. That can't lead to anyplace good.
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It's been said before, but some things are worth saying again and again until we get them right. So everybody repeat after me: There are no such people as “illegals” and there are no such things as “illegal aliens.” The terms “illegals” and “illegal aliens” are nothing but good old fashioned hundred percent white American hate speech, and any time we allow a friend, enemy, family member or co-worker to utter either in our presence without rebuke or reproach, gentle or otherwise, we are co-signing American white nationalism and white racism, pure and simple. And as black people, when has that ever been in our interest?
Language is a lot more than thinking out loud. Language sets the boundaries for which thoughts are permissible and which thoughts are, well, unthinkable. People can't be stripped of their human rights unless we invent the language that makes them subhumans, or non humans. Aliens. That's why white American nationalists insist on calling brown people “aliens,” and “illegals,” and insist that everybody follow their lead. It's a lead to a place we must not, we dare not go.
No sane or moral person in the 21st century can fix her mouth to say “illegal humans,” “illegal people,” or “illegal persons.” They all sound ridiculous to our ears because we recognize universal and “unalienable” human rights to be the foundation of all just laws. It is only after we allow white American nationalists to twist our language, and with it our thinking to turn brown people into “aliens” that we can make them “illegal.” When white American nationalists, and some of the black and brown people whose minds they have contaminated ask “what part of illegal don't you understand,” they are endorsing the claim that white racist American law trumps, supersedes and takes precedence over the rights of humanity itself.
Given our history, black people would be bigger fools than anybody to sign on to this nonsense. Once upon a time, the language of America deemed our very persons property, subject to the whims of the global market and local slavemasters. We really should know better. “Illegals” and “aliens” are the perverted and mind-twisting racist terminology of our oppressors. They are hate speech, every bit as unacceptable as unauthorized use of the n-word. So spread the word. There are no such humans as “illegals” and there no such things as “illegal aliens.” and the next time or two or twenty that you hear somebody use those words, correct them, gently or otherwise.
Our people and our allies fought for the extension of citizenship rights and human rights to everyone without exception, or else we would not have what fraction of these rights we possess today. If we co-sign the creation of a class of subhumans, of “aliens” inside the United States with few or none of the rights of citizenship or humanity today, how secure are our rights and our children's rights tomorrow?
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.