I was at a 24 hour MacDonald’s yesterday, waiting in line before some guys who were having some kind of trouble paying for their food and getting the heck out of the way. The cashier looked, I don’t know what the right word is, patient but also like she just wished the guys would get their shit together. So, it wasn’t a long line, just a slow one. So I had time to people watch. The place was crowded. Mostly young working age Hispanics, (like the gentlemen who couldn’t seem to process their transaction in line in front of me), and Hispanic families with young kids, a few working class whites and blacks, who mostly seemed familiar with each other, giving hugs and handshakes greeting each other with affection. It was a Mickey-Ds, so I suppose you could expect it appeared to be a microcosm of low income America. The demographics appeared to be older whites and blacks, and younger hispanics, just the kind of people politicians like to say they’re out to help. I had a sense that they didn’t feel like they were being helped.
One white woman took out her phone and took a picture of the hispanic guy with the baggy pants that was among the transaction-challenged then went and sat back down, (kind of smugly, I thought). That struck me as odd, as did the people who came in, and seemingly to know the cashier were reaching across the counter to hug her.
The Hispanics kept to themselves, it seemed, and the whites and blacks seemed very closely bonded. This led me to two lines of thought: Hispanic immigrants, (be they illegal or not, I think it’s relatively safe to assume that many of them are), still have a strong familial bond, whereas white and black America seems to have sort of let family become secondary to the pursuit of individual pursuits, and this seemed reflected in what I was perceiving in that restaurant, with younger Hispanics and their children running all over the place, and older, (and to be honest largely beaten-down looking), whites and blacks. Whether they were childless or not, the latter group’s children weren’t with them, if they had any. Or perhaps their children were grown.
The other line of thought that occurs to me, is that there is economic harm being done to low income Americans by not enforcing immigration law. It is largely based on language. I’ve worked on several Hispanic crews as the only English-only speaker, and it puts a non-Spanish speaker at an economic disadvantage.
All this from a too long observation at a 24 hour McDonalds. Call it racism or xenophobia, or jingoism, or any other word you can use, but I’m just writing down my observations, perceptions, and interpretations.