Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Dangerous Example of the Bootstraps Myth

Mexican Immigrant Returns for Mayoral Race in Mexico

(photo by Janet Jarman for The New York Times)

From the New York Times:
"The candidate, Juan Navarro, is a Mexican immigrant with homes in Queens and New Jersey, and his electoral goal is an office 2,200 miles away: the mayoralty of the small city of Serdán, Mexico. Mr. Navarro, a legal resident of the United States, has made his expatriate identity a major theme in his platform, saying that his experiences as an up-by-his-bootstraps immigrant have taught him hard lessons that would make him a sensitive civic leader in Serdán, his hometown."

The Danger

I'm all for hometown boy makes good stories, but we see how success stories for people of color can become a part of the bootstraps myth when politicized. It's difficult to say whether Juan Navarro champions himself with the bootstraps myth, or whether he has been labeled by this terminology by others. However, whenever someone is isolated as an example of having pulled themselves up by his or her bootstraps, the people who have either directly or indirectly contributed to Navarro's success are dismissed. We could benefit from hearing more about his family, or perhaps about the community in which he lived while in the U.S that helped him succeed.

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