“Boat People” and Refugees:
Racial Profiling in the Atlantic
While listening to my local late newscast a piece
comes on about an "heroic" rescue. The anchorman is
seemingly elated as he explains this courageous event
of U.S. Coast Guard servicemen helping these freedom
seekers to shore . He finishes his story with the
declaration, "Since the Cuban refugees made it to
shore, they will be allowed to stay.”
Wasn't it just a few years ago our country "beefed-up"
border patrols to keep Haitians from entering. “God
knows we don't need any Haitian ‘boat people’ ", as
they were referred to on more than one occasion.
There have been MANY instances where Haitians were sent
back primarily because of our country's insane "wet
foot/ dry foot" immigration policy.
However, even this policy and seeming double standard
is not debase enough. The anchorman said the Cuban
"refugees" were "rescued" from the sea. How were they
able to make it to dry land, and thus be able to stay?
Did the Coast Guard "rescue" them and then escort
them to land? So, are our Coast Guard ships
patrolling the waters off our coast doing what amounts
to racial profiling when it come to the “tired and
wretched masses, yearning to be free."?
What is the difference? Could it be- dare I say it-
the color of the skin? Could it be that lighter
skinned Cubans, who also happen to be the ONLY Latino
group to overwhelmingly favor Republicans, are
"rescued" and helped from the bitter sea to the
welcoming shores of Florida; while black skinned
Haitians from the world’s second oldest Democracy (if
a failed democracy) are turned back to the island from
whence they came?
It is 2008, 40+ years since Civil Rights Act, over 140
since the Emancipation Proclamation and over 200 since
Toussaint L'Ouverture cast off the chains of
colonialism (and slavery) and declared the independent
Republic of Haiti and petitioned, eventually begging
its sister democracy for recognition and support. It
is 2008 and does the maul of slavery and inherent
racism so rampantly afflict us that even in our
decisions to help: 1> political refugees and 2> people
in obvious need, floating on rafts in the Atlantic;
the recipients literally live and die by the color of
My God I hope not . . .