Is it Time for National Borders To Go?

Let’s admit it, borders are obsolete. We should not affirm it because scholars and theorists say so. Let’s say it because we want to envision a world where violence and oppression is no longer ignited by this horrid passion to preserve essentialist ideas of national identity. As much as we like to argue about identity politics, such as who fits into categories such as “white”, “black”, or “queer”, there is no such thing as an authentic identity. We now live in a world where cultural practices and beliefs are no longer tied to geography, which of course have destabilized racial and even sexual categories.

In the many works of feminists scholars like Eithne Luiheld and Nira Yuval Davis, they articulate how border control is inherently linked to the control of sexuality and nation building. Ethnic minorities, women, and gays and lesbians become threats to the reproduction of a white heterosexual state, while destroying minority family units through cruel deportation laws. These sexual and racial tensions many of these states harbor originate from this intense desire to protect these essentialist ideas of race and sexuality coupled with capitalistic consumption.

Many of the sexual and racial tensions of these regimes manifest through forced migration and denial of human rights. Such as In the Dominican Republic, with anti –black (anti-haitianismo) deportation laws. There is a rise in anti-Syrian sentiments in places like Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan, places where Syrian refugees seek peace because many natives see this as ruing “Turkish”, “Jordanian” or “Lebanese”. In Namibia and Uganda, violence against gay, lesbian and gender non-conforming folks is heavily tied to this idea that homosexuality is “un-African”. In Israel Ethiopian Jewish women were sterilized, just like black and Latino women in the United States in the 1900s. These actions taken by the states are examples of the need to preserve idealized identities. Globalization has completely disabled these categories, which makes one wonder why continue to preserve or police who is a citizen.

During the election, before it was officially announced that Donald Trump was elected, political commentator Van Jones said that Trump’s win was a result of a “white-lash”. Jones was right, but not for the simplistic reasons that white America is racist against Mexicans and black people, but because of this urgent need to preserve whiteness. To many white working class Americans, they felt as if the Democratic Party had abandoned them as diversity to them equates a “white genocide”.

In a world where displacement is taking place in large numbers, stateless bodies are emerging, changing cultural landscapes, and also who we consider citizens. Although notions of citizenship differ depending on the nation, it is still a marker of “humanness” and “belonging”. In American history particularly the question of citizenship of marginalized folks has always been contentious. For black people, our humanity is still questioned till this day.

With the movement of bodies, money, and cultural forms, hybridity happens. As we all know, when two worlds meet something new is born, something ambiguous. Many people like me who occupy many intersections such as queer, Haitian (black), immigrants are products of modernity. I am a paradox one born of violence of many kinds. I am what a black nationalists fear (an effeminized black male) and what the nation views as a threat. I am not the idealized blackness that is paraded on TV or in music videos for capitalistic accumulation. These categories only exist as a way of redrawing borders, not just physical borders, but borders over our bodies and mind that hinder our ability to envision ways of existing that are liberating and healthy. Trump’s travel ban is a physical manifestation of this controlling of borders, but what is worth noting is the very intense desire for these very rigid racial categories to preserve themselves, and that preservation is greater fueled by the deep hate embedded in white communities towards people of color and queer folks.

Trump is whiteness manifest in flesh and he is a result of white fear. If we have come to terms with the fact that authentic identities no longer exist, why do boarders exist? Especially since we have millions of stateless people and no one can ever fully fit these narrowly defined ideas of citizenship. If a border free works is fear of no culture, this is no longer a good excuse, because culture will continue to exist without strict policing of national lines. To be clear, this article is not an effort to lump us together under this category of human, because even that category of human is contentious and unstable, historically and even today only elite white men have access this label of “Human”.

Trump’s administration is perfect example of how this strict surveillance over borders is a tool of imperialist domination over black and brown bodies. Like so many writers and academics critique notions of security when speaking of empire, security becomes a tool of justification for redrawing borders. The Trump administration attacked Yemen and Syria exerting American dominance, while simultaneously increasing instability in the region as if bombing ever help anyone. This cycle of ethnic boundaries is inherently tied to preserving walls that are non-existent. These actions continuously creates areas or regions of disposability, like Africa and the Middle East where you see huge amounts of displacement taking place due to civil war or imperialist advances.

 

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