Hey Joe: What did you think of the RFT cover story about the immigrant situation in Valley Park?
Taco Whoever, Valley Park
I couldn't help but read the story when my eyes fell upon the mostly green cover of the paper, with "Valley Park, pop. 6,518" emblazoned in white and "no wetbacks" in parentheses. But this was no slur directed at the Mexican community. It reflected the ignorance of the town's mayor, Jeffery Whitteaker, who has worked diligently to get an ordinance passed to exclude Mexicans he characterizes as "illegal immigrants."
This isn't what words on the Statue of Liberty imply. They say, "Bring me your tired, your poor." The mayor's actions reveal that he is short on his history. Prior to the Statue of Liberty, the original illegal immigrants were blacks and Europeans. Therefore, he is a descendant of "illegal immigrants." At the time Native Americans inhabited the land, but once they were decimated things began to change into a one-class system. Blacks became a pariah. Whitteaker, a self-proclaimed Democrat, reveals the Democratic Party's primitive nature when it was known as "the party of the South" because it embraced slavery. Missouri was a party to this system.
Interestingly, St. Louis just marked the anniversary of the Dred Scott's decision. Scott fought for his rights as a free black man, but unfortunately the court saw it differently. It said because he was black he was no American citizen. If this was the case, he was violated twice once as an illegal immigrant and then as a non-citizen.
The illegal-immigrant issue that plagues Valley Park has another twist: At one time in the community, an interracial couple suffered so much harassment that they chose to move. If Whitteaker doesn't change his position, he's as hypocritical as the words on New York's Statue of Liberty and as perverted as the St. Louis Arch. He's the kind that pimps off America by adhering to racial poison and claiming to be patriotic, when the country needs love more now than ever before in its history.
This story has the potential of becoming a national showcase. It should be read by everybody. It uncovers the good, the bad and the indifferent. It reflects a life in America that some people have known through centuries. It points out the good, courageous people who spoke out against such policies. About that interracial couple's harassment, I can't imagine how many times they were addressed as "nigger" and "nigger lover." (I can understand how Mexicans feel about the term "wetback."). We know who the bad is, so the indifferent has to be the church, similar to those in St. Louis.
Recently, I saw that the president of the Urban League and a few black preachers have launched a campaign to negate use of the N word. Instead, I prefer to be called "nigger." Let it all hang out. Every time it is used, it advertises the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Launch a campaign against these. If churches don't began speaking out against social ills, they're going to force God to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.
Prince Joe Henry, one of professional baseball's original "clowns," was an all-star infielder for Negro League baseball teams in Memphis, Indianapolis and Detroit throughout the 1950s. But up until the late 1940s, Prince Joe didn't know anything about the Negro Leagues. His knowledge of organized baseball was limited to the Cardinals and Browns games he attended during his preteen years at Sportsman's Park, accompanied by lifelong buddy Eugene "Gene" Crittendon, who could pass for white.
Perhaps Henry's most vivid memory of those games: Upon entry, white ushers would politely escort the boys to a small section of the left-field stands reserved for "Colored." After climbing past several tiers of bleachers, they'd arrive at their stop, rows and rows behind their white counterparts.
Even at a young age, the boys were conscious of the double standard -- and determined to vent their disdain. The opportunity would arise with the urge to urinate. Rather than head for the latrine, the boys would edge their way to the front of the section and let fly. As the liquid foamed its way down the concrete steps toward the white kids, Henry and his pal would ease back and relax, politely rooting for the visiting team to beat the hell out of the Browns or the Cards.
After all, Henry and Crittendon hailed from Brooklyn, Illinois, a small, predominantly black township just east of the Mississippi River. So hospitable were the residents of Brooklyn that they were known to take in a rank stranger, treat him to breakfast, lunch, supper and a night out on the town -- and afterward, if he messed up, treat him to a good ass-whippin'.
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