Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Professor Mendoza

As a native Iowan I always get a good laugh when I hear about non-Iowans who completed "RAGBRAI" which is the annual bicycle trip across the State of Iowa. Why? Because so many people come to this event with pre-conceived notions about Iowa, namely that the state is completely flat and covered with corn. Then these bicyclists find out that while Minnesota got all the lakes, Iowa received all the rivers thus there are numerous hills and valleys that require some hard pedaling!!

I thought about this "educational experience" when I read a recent column by Ruben Rosario in my local newspaper regarding Professor Louis Mendoza's (University of Minnesota's Chicano Studies program) bicycle tour of the USA to explore the "Latinoization of America." Professor Mendoza's tour is being documented at his blog --

Professor Mendoza's tour is all about understanding how/if Latinos are integrating into American society via the "melting pot" concept we were taught in school or if they are living in cultural ghettos. This tour is scheduled to run from July to December 2007 so that means some long days of pedaling for Professor Mendoza. When I checked his blog today I noted that he is in the Detroit, Michigan area so he better pick up the pace so he can avoid some early snow storms since he plans to tour New York state before turning south.

One story shared in Mr. Rosario's is Professor Mendoza's meeting with an older Mormon couple who had done missionary work in Latin American and spoke Spanish. The husband in this couple (quoting Rosario now) --

"talked about the goodness and the family-oriented work ethic of 'wetbacks'...................but Mendoza went beyond the knee-jerk response. He looked into the man's heart and listened to what else he had to say. In part it was a tale of this man risking his own safety to rescue poor illegal immigrants fleeced, abandoned, or left to die by 'coyotes' - human traffickers."

Setting this man's racist word choice aside for now this observation really makes you wonder about immigration reform. What if we created a legal form of "human trafficking" whereby instead of paying "coyotes" to get them into the USA immigrants could pay a fee to the US Treasury which could be used for completing background/security checks? Let's make things more transparent to reduce crime and death along our borders.

Safe travels Professor,


1 comment:

elprofe said...

Thanks for your observations, Todd. Just a brief note to let you know that it is indeed getting cooler every day--and shorter days doesn't help! I'm doing 100 mile days so I can get to the coast by next week where it's a bit warmer.