“Play for your Wait” by Kinsee Morlan
I just watched The Grapes of Wrath movie for the first time a few nights ago (yep, read the book in high school like the rest of you), and I’m sure I’m not the first person to notice the similarities between the migration of the “Okies” and the rest of the Dust Bowl migrants of the 1930s and the current wave of Mexican farm workers immigrating to the U.S. today. The Okies were treated like shit, given unfair wages and sent to government-backed migrant work camps (which the Mexicans would begin to populate just a few years later). It took some time before the Okies were accepted into the California culture and treated like statesmen instead of strangers.
Problem is, whereas the light-skinned migrants. whose only noticeable difference at the time was the strange or “dumb” way they talked (which eventually went away with assimilation), the Mexican immigrants have noticeable physical differences that won’t go away anytime in the near future.
I hate to be the one to say it, but racism and bigotry will always exist as long as physical differences are apparent. Most people are just too stupid to look past the color of someone’s skin or the shape of their face. And you know what’s ironic and kind of funny about all of this — it’s the Okie-like people (read: The San Diego Minutemen) who now hate the influx of the Mexicans and treat them the same way their poor hillbilly ancestors were treated just a few decades ago.