It was time for me to move out of my townhome in Houston. I was really sad about it. I loved the location and the neighborhood and my neighbors. Plus, moving is not my favorite thing. My emotions were everywhere. I wanted to make sure I left the place spotless so that I could get my security deposit back in full. I decided to hire a cleaning service. I Googled and found some services, but the price was a little steep for my liking. My next steps was to ask friends and see if they had some suggestions. Some of my friends had neighbors that provided cleaning service but could not do it when I needed it. I started to get a little bit desperate. Then, on my way to a meeting with some work collegues and I kind of mentioned it. I told them I only got a few days and I still in need of cleaning service. Their response, "Girl, you better find you a Mexican. They will clean your whole house for $75."
I don't want to get into my thoughts on immigration. That is a different post, but wanted to share my reaction. When my teammate said that, I was perplexed. First thing that came in my head is how the hell am I hearing this out of another person of color mouth? For a black person to say this, knowing our own struggle to this day; that was hard to hear. I know it was not said to harm and to be honest there is truth ot it, but in that instance, my collegue "harmless" statement took a culture and a people and minimize them to one thing; cheap labor. As a black person, I know the feeling. As deep and complicated as black culture and is, we also were one-noted and labled as less than and cheap labor. Maybe if it was said differently. Maybe if my collegue said. "Hey, you should go to a brown brother/sister and see if they can hook you up." But why, "a Mexican?" I know why and you do too. Mexican has come to symbolize, cheap labor, immigrant, outsider. It has become as derogatory as nigger, dehumanizing a group of people. As Americans do we use people that are different for their talents and take advantage of their situation and then complain of their existence in "our country." And as easy as the words are said, that is what we become. Mexicans, niggers, A-RABS, fags.
In that moment I also thought about my mom. She use to clean houses when I was a kid. That is back-breaking work and it should be paid handsomely for. There was a time when people in America talked about getting "a nigger" to clean house and it came out of their lips with the same ease that Mexican statement came from my collegue. It is nothing wrong with the line of work. It is honorable work, but to insist that a particular type of person is built for it, should do it and then get paid little for it is a damned problem.
In the end, I did the cleaning myself. With all the thoughts I had about it, I figured cleanng myself would give me the clearest conscious. Maybe something as simple as picking a cleaning service won't be complicated by race and class. I don't want Mexican to mean cheap labor. I don't want Black to mean less than. I don't want Arab or Muslim to mean terrorist. I don't want gay to mean abomination. We have to change.