The article, “The Crossing”, produced a variety of different responses from me over the time I considered its content. I want to split my train of thought into several different pieces, levels – if you will, that I can explore within this response.
My initial reaction, my first level of response, was one of an emotional origin. As I read the piece, I grew attached to the story of Beni. I grew concerned for the well-being of Dikembe. These young men seemed like the ideal protagonists: young, able-bodied, selfless (by my standards), and deserving. If anyone should make the crossing, shouldn’t it be them? These young men remain hopeful about a future they have barely glimpsed. At one point, Beni says, “Once I have a good job in Europe…I will buy my brother and sister plane tickets, so they won’t have to do the crossing like me. Someday, I will tell them my stories, and they won’t believe them all, but they will be so thankful for me.” It is slightly uncomfortable to be on this end of the story, to know about the restrictions surrounding the ability for a boy like Beni to make it into the EU – much less fly his family over to meet him. However, I think that discomfort is necessary for real awareness. This article made me sad; it made me pity the lives these boys have; it made aware of how lucky I am. But most importantly, it made me uncomfortable. Earlier, I described Beni as a character because initially his story seems almost fictional. The idea that a boy, the same age as my brother, can be living a life of constant movement and covertness seems absurdly dystopian. But that is the defining point of the article, that is what imparts so much emotion, so much discomfort: Beni’s story is not a fictional one; he is a very real boy representing the struggle of many other very real people.
The second line of thinking is tied with the prior one: this story of the Moroccan immigration crisis is certainly real, but how has it been so silent? What circumstances have created the erasure of this event from media? Is the lack of attention tied to the race of these people? Sub-saharan african men and women represent a minority, especially in the eyes of the American public. Further more, does the apparent rise in anti-immigration sentiments contribute to silence? Or is the attention of the media too fleeting to create real change?
My third line of thought deals in a much broader sense with the work that Professor Alexander is doing. In one of the opening days of class, we touched upon the fairly elitist nature of academic anthropology and the way that research is judged. However, if anything is is proven by “The Crossing”, it is that the presentation of modern anthropological research does not belong inside of a classroom. The importance of these discoveries is tied to their ability to be transmitted.
If a tree falls in the forest, but no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
If a boy is beaten to death outside of one of Spain’s borders, but no one is around to see it, did his death really matter? If he doesn’t have any identification papers did his death really happen? Was he ever really alive?