Saturday, March 11, 2006

si, se puede.

(cc) jvoves, from flickr

i don't speak spanish. but i learned what the title of this post meant when i read the articles this morning about the huge immigrants' rights march that happened here in chicago yesterday. the trib, of course, has good coverage, but if you aren't registered, you can check it out here.

i think it's freaking fantastic that so many people showed up to stand up for themselves - that people showed up in such vast numbers that the country, and capitol hill, had to perk up its ears and listen for a minute. but what's most interesting to me is how largely unprepared the mainstream chicago media was when it happened.

i mean, to be fair, the sheer number of people surprised even event organizers. but for however off-guard people connected to the march were, the media was three steps behind them. BoyCat, who interns at a certain news outlet, noted how it really seemed like the media in town had been caught unawares on friday afternoon, and spent the rest of the day scrambling to catch up. this resulted in bizarre situations like this news outlet's reporter covering the george ryan trial around the corner while mayor daley, governor blagojevich, et al. made their fiery speechs at the rally. this meant the newsroom was scrambling for coverage of speakers, some of which didn't come through til 9:00 pm.

i think this is (obviously) emblematic of the invisibility in which most illegal immigrant workers function day to day in society. they fix our cars, cook our food, manicure our lawns and clean our buildings and homes. the chicago area got a big wake-up call to that reality yesterday, when these tens of thousands of workers walked off their jobs to stand together and be seen. and the media was unprepared because the organization of this event didn't run through their normal mainstream channels - it started via word of mouth, and then was picked up and promoted through spanish language radio. apparently, the mainstream media only keeps half an ear to the ground when it comes to spanish media, because there were only a smattering of stories about the upcoming march in the two days before it happened. i read one brief profile of a spanish language DJ who was promoting the event, and the planned march warranted a quick mention on chicago's fox news at 10:00 pm on thursday night. that's it. and then the next day, 100,000 jammed the loop, affected traffic and evening El commutes, and generally caught the whole city's attention for the day.

so, i think everything about this event is fascinating. the turnout, the solidarity, the advocacy and support. the way in which so many people were ready for an event like this to happen. the way in which so may other people were not.

1 comment:

Roni said...

I have to admit that I had no idea that it would be that big. But it was freakin' amazing! The hubby got out of work at 4:30 and the streets were still filled with people. Sadly we both missed it.