D magazine, the glossy Dallas lifestyle magazine, just published a list of 52 must-do items in its new issue that are “essential experiences” before one can become a true Dallasite. In amongst the Texas State Fair and “Running into Don Henley at Whole Foods” the magazine suggests you “hire a day laborer.”
As if this were some family-bonding pastime. Geez dad, should we ride the mechanical bull at Gilleys, or I don’t know, hire some day laborers? The worst is how the magazine describes people looking for work – as if they were some kind of vermin.
“They’ll swarm your car, which can feel a bit like a nascent siege, but it’s normal. Negotiate rates up front and be prepared to pay $10–$14 an hour. A few years ago, we offered $7 an hour and dudes scattered as if our vehicle read “INS.””
Cindy Casares of Guanabee.com wrote a scathing post about the D magazine feature that is both funny and sad. Casares actually takes the time to contact the magazine’s executive editor Tim Rogers who writes back: Are you saying people SHOULDN’T hire day laborers?” Rogers writes. “I thought the advice we offered was very helpful.”
Casares finishes up her post with this observation: “It’s not our place to say whether or not people should hire day laborers. We’re sure day laborers wouldn’t want us to deter you from hiring them. They need the money. What bothers us about D’s list item is its flippant treatment of a very sad and complicated social and economic situation in this country and Latin America. To commodify human beings who are risking their lives to send their families their last dime is, frankly, sickening and more than a little insulting to the Dallasites who read their magazine.”
The fact that Rogers and his magazine don’t get what’s offensive just illustrates the huge disconnect our state has with its addiction to cheap labor. Some Republicans in the Texas Legislature are working right now to make life as miserable as possible for immigrant workers. Day laborers helped build this state, but D magazine mocks them in a way that makes them seem less than human. And if you’re less than human, then obviously you’re not worthy of a work visa, safer working conditions or a living wage.