Monday, April 26, 2010

On Arizona's new law...

Let’s jump right in, shall we?

Last year someone sent this bitch a link to a powerful post on racial profiling(Update - found it! Thanks!)... trust a bitch that this was one of the best posts I’ve read on the topic.

The author wrote of driving through a western state, being pulled over and asked a series of leading questions about where she was coming from and where she was going and then being allowed to continue with a warning about speeding even though she hadn’t been speeding when she was pulled over.  She wondered if the unwarranted traffic-stop was an attempt by the local police to harass visibly brown people and create an unwelcoming climate for undocumented people in the border state.  What made the post powerful for me was that the author also wrote about how her people had lived in the same region for generations...from a time when it was part of Mexico until the present.  I tried and failed to imagine what it must be like to have those kind of roots in a region and then have some asshole harass you as if you don't belong there.

I sure as shit thought of that when I heard of Arizona’s new immigration law.

And I’m calling bullshit on anyone who tries to say that the Arizona law won’t lead to profiling.

As a matter of fact, supporters of the law should be outraged that the Governor of Arizona claims that profiling won’t be a part of the law.  The only way this kind of law “works” is if it is applied based on visible difference.  Usually paper laws mandate that only the other...the undesirables…are required to have their documentation on them at all times.  But Arizona has Americanized that shit…everyone is assumed to have some sort of government issued identification or easily produced proof of legal status, so supporters of the law can make the false claim that anyone who raises suspicion that they may not be American could be asked to produce documentation or face the consequences of having to prove that they are in the country legally.  Yeah, that’s American as a motherfucker…kind of reminds me of the impossible to pass voting tests members of my family had to take in Mississippi back in the day that were only given to black people trying to vote.

The thing is, Arizona could have passed the law with equal oppression for all.

Legislators could have drafted it to mandate that all residents of Arizona, regardless of age, have state issued documentation and that all interactions with law enforcement include producing that documentation.  That would have left the problem of how to deal with visitors to the state…but Arizona legislators could have mandated that any non-resident of the state who has any interaction with law enforcement who cannot produce a passport or legal identification issued by another state or the federal government be detained until their status can be determined.

But Arizona didn’t do any of that…Gawd forbid they subject everyone to what they so callously want to subject people of color to.


A bitch supports the idea of a boycott mostly because I think people should be warned that their family trip could turn into an apartheid experience quicker than flies gather on shit.

Better to avoid Arizona altogether…and that’s a damn shame, since I’ve been there and found it to be a beautiful state.  But natural beauty and stunning sunsets aren’t enough to overcome the now legal and oh so public threat of being treated like a suspect simply because you are a person of color. 

And this is also one of those things that those who are not subject to profiling usually fuck up on and "don’t get".

Right now there is someone writing a comment to this post who is going to try to make the case that people who aren’t in the country “illegally” shouldn’t get upset over being asked to prove that we aren’t in the country “illegally” because we can just show our papers and then go on about our bitness so what's the big deal and why do you always have to play the race card. 

Oh precious privilege, that those who enjoy you are gracious enough to tell the rest of us what should or should not be offensive…what is or is not insulting and wrong and the very definition of unequal treatment under law.

But a bitch is gonna be a witness...the only race card on the table is this mandate of unequal treatment under law that is the new Arizona law.

The race card that says people of color, people with accents, people who wear "different" clothing or people who are conversing in a foreign language get to experience one kind of American while the rest of y'all get to expereince the other kind of America where your ass isn't asked to prove your legal status when you're pulled over for failing to yeild.

Somebody ought to be 'shamed, but that'd be too much like right.


Limecrete said...

And let's not forget the charming side-issue on this bill...

Health reform passes. Nutbars: "Government takeover! Keep Washington out of my business!"

Financial reform is on the horizon. Nutbars: "Government takeover! Keep Washington out of my business!"

Racist immigration bill passes in Arizona. Nutbars: "Don't blame us! We had to do this, because the federal government refuses to solve this problem for us!"

Aimee said...

Yes somebody should be ashamed.... Unfortunately IRS starting to be me, ashamed of America

MBB Founder and Editor Denene Millner said...

Brilliantly said.

Anonymous said...

The article you're thinking of is by the awesome Debbie Reese, over here:

And amen to all of this.

Anonymous said...

Arizona yet again shows its racist, KKK side. This is the same state that would not recognize MLK day. This law is a lawsuit waiting to happen. I hope they have lots of money in the treasury because they are going to need it. I can not wait to see what is going to arise from this insanity. This is insane. So glad America is "beyond" race.

Shark-Fu said...

Thank you Mary Dell and I'll apologize for any inaccuracies of memory - I highly recommend that folks read the piece!

Lori S. said...

The Arizona law has me incoherent with fury. I can't write more than a sentence about it without needing to hit a pillow or something.

Julian Griffith said...

The only traffic-stop profiling I've ever been subjected to has been of the Goddamned Hippie Pothead Freak variety, back when I had a car liberally adorned with Grateful Dead stickers, but that's more than enough to give me an idea of how much it sucks, and to have every expectation that this law is ALL about the profiling.

bakafox said...

I live near the border in TX, and I know that when I head closer (not cross, just go to places still in TX but closer!) to the border, then come back north, I, while white, and otherwise privileged, find myself gritting my teeth that I have to stop, and answer questions about my citizenship. I've yet had to show my 'papers' but I have to answer where I was, what I went there fore, where I'm going to now, and whether or not that's my hometown.

The idea that people just already get randomly stopped if they're PoC and have to put up with that here is bad enough. It makes me angry that friends of mine have been and can be randomly stopped due to being the 'wrong' color for questioning.

But AZ taking what's already so wrong and then stamping it into an official papers piece of crap has me absolutely enraged. It was bad enough, now it's worse.

Beautiful as the scenery is, despite having some fairly good friends there, all plans to visit AZ when I have funds are canceled unless it's for a march against this crap.

The Nerd said...

As a fellow citizen of St. Louis, I too am horrified by this law. But I have never had plans to visit AZ and I don't think that most of us will get the opportunity to actually boycott the state any time soon. It seems like there's too little we can do to fight back from here, other than to shout as loud as we can and hope they can hear us.

Shark-Fu said...

The Nerd...
Well, I was just there last year to see the Grand Canyon, which is a pretty popular tourist site. Beyond that, folks need to raise objects to any conventions or gatherings in Phoenix or anywhere in the state.

Meanwhile, I'll dig up some info. of businesses that are headquartered in Arizona and whether they have donated in support of the rancid fools who sponsored this, voted for it and then signed it into law.

CeCe said...

Arizona used to be on my places to visit again list, but no more. I can't go to Phoenix, can't go to the Grand Canyon. Sigh.

I've been watching commentary about this on MSNBC. There was a Republican state senator explaining that they're doing this to lower the crime rate. So apparently, illegal immigrants (and those who slightly resemble them) are responsible for the violence in Arizona. This country really sucks sometimes.

SamWorking said...

This is a horrid thing. And of course, being transgender, my first response when I heard "produce ID to verify status" is that not only are POC in danger, but now some trans-hating badge wearing A*^%hats are gonna be rounding up some transfolks too.

Cause oppression is like Pringles..can't ever have just one!

What makes me even madder are the people who do this crap and then claim to be Christians. How are you gonna embarrass God like that? Or do you not read the Bible?

Because from what I can see, God has ALWAYS used "outsiders" to build up, and in some cases save, God's growing community.

I wrote about it over at my blog too.


bitchphd said...

Last night blond-haired blue-eyed me was sitting at dinner in a restaurant absolutely *fuming* as some jackass at the next table went on about this law and how his grandfather--grandfather!!--came to this country legally.

I so wanted to turn around and tell him that he ought not make assumptions about who is overhearing him, and that *my* grandfather, who was born in Mexico, thankyouverymuch, came from ancestors who went back to the goddamn American Revolution via a woman named Lopez. And that said ancestors went back and forth across the now-border for over a hundred years. And that he and his immigrant grandpa could get stuffed.

But I didn't, out of consideration for my fellow diners. And for his dining companions, who seemed to be somewhat discomfited by his yammering.

Antonio said...

Legislators could have drafted it to mandate that all residents of Arizona, regardless of age, have state issued documentation and that all interactions with law enforcement include producing that documentation. That would have left the problem of how to deal with visitors to the state…but Arizona legislators could have mandated that any non-resident of the state who has any interaction with law enforcement who cannot produce a passport or legal identification issued by another state or the federal government be detained until their status can be determined.

They could've done that, but we all know that it would've ended up in the police only enforcing the law when pulling over PoC. Racial profiling is like death and taxes in this country.

Great post, Shark-fu.

dinthebeast said...

This law bothers me a few different ways, but I would like to focus on one specific problem I see with it: The police who will be asked to enforce the damned thing. Now I don't know what should be done to change the situation that causes the police (at least the police I've had interactions with) to feel that they constantly need to make acurate snap judgements about the people they meet or their lives may be in danger at every turn. But they already feel that way. A lot of people hate them. Some of them get killed. I don't feel like that is an excuse for the poor behavior I have witnessed from them, but that's only my opinion and I don't make the rules. My concern about the law in AZ is that it seems to pile even more complexity onto this decision making process for fallible, stressed out humans who already have a lot to deal with. I wouldn't want that job. It just seems like it's even more likely to blow up in everyone's face over what is really just a political game being played by folks who will never even be exposed to the problems it will cause.
Also I live in Oakland and their attitudes toward immigrants down there make my blood boil...

-Doug in Oakland

Anne said...

I suggest reading Greg Palast - Behind the Arizona Immigration Law: GOP Game to Swipe the November Election. He feels, along with many others, this is a tactic to halt the growing trend in AZ of Hispancis voting democratic. Palast is an ivestigative reporter. This is just as digusting when Katharine Harris in FL purged voter rolls of black Democratic voters during 2000election with the blessings of then Gov. Jeb Bush.

Anonymous said...

"And this is also one of those things that those who are not subject to profiling usually fuck up on and 'don’t get'."

Only if they willfully *choose* not to get it.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know profiling exists in a myriad inappropriate ways and it hurts people and it's wrong.

Not that it matters, but I'm white and not apparently subject to profiling, and I don't have any particular genius for recognizing what's happening all around me, but I can still see the obvious.

Thanks for the work you do, ABB. (You can say it, I can't. ^.^ )

Libby said...

I just wanted to point out that many Arizonans are downright angry about this bill. We think the whole thing is horrid and wrong and agree that it's codifying racial profiling.
There's a lot more wrong with this bill than you mentioned - it essentially illegalizes day labor, whether the workers are citizens or not. And transporting illegal immigrants, even for humanitarian aid (as was the case with these activists: will be illegal and can result in the seizure of your vehicle.
It's all kinds of fucked up, and I'm hoping enough of my fellow Arizonans think so to kick out the majority of our jackass legislature and elect Terry Goddard governor.

Shark-Fu said...

Thanks for pointing that out! Some of my favorite people live in Arizona and they are fired up and mad as hell about this bill. And thanks for the link too...

Stay strong and let us know what we can do to help!

Peace said...

Racism helps no one!


NancyP said...

This ought to make medical and scientific convention planners take pause - there are enough foreign-born brown/brownish M.D.s and Ph.D.s to ensure that at least one or two get hauled in by some jackass with a badge.

Why do Arizonans trend racist?

Anonymous said...

Racial profiling is wrong but something needs to be done about illegal immigration. While most immigrants are honest, hard-working people, there are many immigrants who come to this country to steal and plunder. Something needs to be done to keep these people out of this country. At least Arizona is doing something - I wish Washington would do the same.

styker gal said...

Before you jump on and play that card....I STRONGLY suggest that you live, as a resident, in Arizona. I lived there for 13 years and worked as a paramedic, before deciding that I had had enough, and decided to leave. Arizona is NOT racist per se, they have a very serious cash flow problem, as in, more going out than coming in. When you have more money going out to illegals and folks who refuse to work, or can not find work, than is coming in via taxes and other have a problem.
The fact that people now a days feel entitled to free healthcare, subsidized housing, groceries etc has to stop.
This bill has NOTHING to do with the colour of ones skin, it has to do with trying to stay afloat financially!
Why should I have to pay taxes and not get anything for it? Yet, an illegal can come into the USA and get free medical care and other services. This bill is about trying to keep Arizona financially solvent, and help the LEGAL residents and keep the illegals out.
Oh yeah, I am originally from the UK where we have a simular problem with the Turks. I know, I am one. AND I am NOT white.

Anonymous said...

Yeah... Boycott! Don't go to Arizona! That's what they want anyways. Something has to be done about illegal immigration, At least Arizona is doing something about it.

Anonymous said...

While I think this bill has serious problems with it, I agree that Arizona had to do something.
The federal government has failed to take a strong stance in any direction on the immigration issue, so it's no surprise that a bill like this cropped up.

And if more states take the same stance on the issue and adopt a similar bill to Arizona's, I wonder how effective a boycott will be.

Shark-Fu said...

Okay...I've got to jump in here to make one thing clear - we the people do not want our state governments doing "something".

That's not the way to make sound policy - that's desperation and chaos is the outcome when folks legislate in desperate haste.

This is law, for the love of logic - not an experiment that is easily ended, not some sort of statement to the federal government.

Just ONCE I'd like to see the people demand that their government do the right thing instead of praising them for tossing shit against the wall then calling it progress.


Shark-Fu said...

As for boycotts working, time will tell. I know that I work too damn hard to spend money behind things that offend my values. But the people don't have a strong track record on that...we shall see.

As for more states doing it - as proof of how out of control this shit has gotten, we need only look to Iowa's GOP candidate for Gov. who wants to pass this kind of law in his no-foreign-border having state AND would like to add a mandate to micro-chip undocumented people for future tracking.

Good stuff, huh?

Wait another day and odds are Oklahoma will propose heli-hunting along their southern border.

Christ Jesus.

Anonymous said...

for all the people that are with the bill you should learn the history of this country and once you do that you will see that we the mexicans are the real ligals in this state it was mexico once. ITS ALL ABOUT BROW PRIDE. SO DON,T HATE

Anonymous said...

For me, it's not about hate. I am a middle-aged black woman who has lived on the east coast. I have been racially profiled in customs, on Interstates 95 & 70, as well as walking down the street.

It's about getting a handle on illegal immigration. Undocumented residents are not just only Mexicans, many are white, Asian, or black. If Mexicans deserve a "special category" then so be it - Increase the quotas.

Sorry Shark-Fu I usually agree with you but this time I beg to differ. Policy changes sometimes occur in small steps. I'm sure this law is just the beinning of immigration reform in the US.

CeCe said...

I'd be interested to see the statistics on how many Asians and white people they'll be stopping on the street asking for identification. How many Asians are even in Arizona?

I've been watching all the Arizona state legislators defending this bill. They all clain violence reduction of illegal Mexican immigrants and Mexican border control. You may not be sure, but the Arizona officials are sure who they're targeting with this law. Imrpoving immigration is a good idea. But doing it this way is a step backwards.

Unknown said...

While i dont support recial profiling nor all of this bill there are things to take into consideration....
Lets for one start with an immigrant of ANY nationality, who could enter the US via mexico (just like illigal mexicans), find work under the table, not pay taxes, use our resources, COMMIT A CRIME, and then disapper back over the border because they are in NO way documented or finger printed.
WHY IS THAT NOT A CONCERN???? can we say TERRORISTS? even the mexicans work in our food supply. not to mention the drugs that come up from mexico (which is OBVIOUSLY alot if the smugglers are TAKING OVER MEXICO!)

Shark-Fu said...

Steve...crime is a concern on both borders just as terrorists being able to stroll in is a concern on both borders.

Targeting day laborers, teachers with accents...talking about sending American children born to undocumented parents "back where they came from"...and creating a climate where anyone who looks like they may be Mexican is subject to unequal treatment is not gonna address that.

People should be pissed off that Arizona legislators had an opportunity and instead pass this law.

I'm concerned just like everyone else, but I'm also concerned when legislators indulge their inner bigot instead of tackling the issues folks keep talking about...the same issues that are not addressed by this law.

Anonymous said...

Let's wake up is NOT racial profiling. It has everything to do with location: TX, CA, and AZ are connected to the Mexican border...therefore, 99% of illegals in those states ARE Mexican. Face the facts, people. I'm sure WA and MN have the same problem with Canadians. Illegals cost our country billions of dollars...:

Here are some stats that might open your eyes: The almost HALF TRILLION DOLLARS is paid by ALL OF US: $397B - cost of welfare and other social services provided to ILLEGAL Immigrants; $22.7M ILLEGALS in USA NOW; $163.7B - cost of educated k-12 ILLEGAL Immigrant Children; $24.3B - cost of incarceration of ILLEGALS; $11.6M - Number of skilled jobs provided to ILLEGALS.

And another thing, if you're not proud to be an American, the why the hell do you live here???

Shark-Fu said...

Ah, another Anonymous expert.

Resisting an unjust law is the very definition of being a proud American.

People who are not proud fail to maintain.

But, having Anonymous trolls question the patriotism of those of us who seek to defend American values is also very American.

Gawd, I love this country!

Anyhoo, my people have been in America since before America was America...some of them even had to deal with undocumented Europeans crossing borders, breaking treaties and taking over all manner of shit in the name of God.

I call dibs on this nation, son.


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