April 23, 2010

Arizona—The State of Hate

This blog was written by Gerald Lenoir, Director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration. If you agree with his opinion, please click here and take Four Actions for Justice and against SB1070 in Arizona. Thank you.

In my opinion, the State of Arizona should officially change its name to the State of Hate to reflect its current and historical racist attitudes and actions toward Latinos and African Americans.

On Thursday, April 15, over 800 federal, state and local agents swooped into four Arizona communities - Nogales, Rio Rico, Tucson and Phoenix - in an action described by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as “targeting human smuggling networks.” The massive show of force netted only 47 suspects. The raid reinforced the racist, anti-immigrant climate already prevalent in the state.

On Friday, April 23, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law SB 1070, legalizing racial profiling of Latinos in her state. Local law enforcement is empowered to stop and question anyone they have “reasonable suspicion” of being undocumented, which is not defined in the bill. There is already rampant racial profiling in Arizona and now, it will be done under the color of law. Legitimizing racial profiling threatens the rights not just of Latino immigrants, but also all people of color, including African Americans.

This is not the first time that Arizona has showed its true colors. Currently, there is a bill pending in the state legislature that would require presidential candidates to prove that they were born in the United States. This measure was introduced as a result of the patently false claim that Barak Obama was not born in this country. Arizona legislators and member of the “birther movement” will deny it but I say it’s one more example of racist attitudes towards our first black president.

And remember the fight over the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday? In 1983, Senator John McCain of Arizona voted against establishing a federal holiday in Dr. King’s honor. In 1986, the Arizona state legislature failed to pass a bill for a King holiday but the governor at the time, Bruce Babbitt issued an executive order for the state holiday. In 1987, newly elected Republican Governor Evan Mecham rescinded the executive order, remarking, “I guess King did a lot for the colored people but I don’t think he deserves a national holiday.”

The criminalization of black and brown people has been happening for a long time in these United States. One only has to look at the disproportionate incarceration rates for our youth versus white youth. Now, immigrants of color are being criminalized. So-called “illegal aliens” are being demonized for the “crime” of crossing the border without legal papers, which is a civil, not criminal, offense.

But who are the real criminals? The U.S. government and U.S. corporations who are complicit in forcing the flow of migration. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), for example, Mexico opened its markets to subsidized food crops from the United States. The result is that three million Mexican farmers could not compete with cheap U.S. commodities and lost their land and their livelihood. Many of them, along with their families, have migrated to the U.S. looking for jobs.

So, let me get this right, the United States invades the economy of another country and the economic refugees that come here are labeled illegal? What’s wrong with this picture?

I say that people have a right to stay in their own country. U.S. intervention has deprived them of that right. And now the State of Hate will punish the victims.

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer promises to increase the hostility towards immigrants and create the United States of Hate, if you will. Senator Schumer stated on Monday, “We believe our blueprint is even stronger than the Arizona senators’ proposal in stopping the flow of illegal immigrants because our plan both increases border security and prevents employers from hiring illegal immigrants.”

According to Coalicion de Derechos Humanos, a Tucson-based immigrant rights group, “U.S. Policy and Border Patrol and DHS [Department of Homeland Security] actions have resulted in the deaths of an estimated 4,000 migrants due to environmental exposure since 1996… This area has become a vast killing field for migrants. Last year, at least 205 bodies were recovered in Arizona alone and who knows how many more whose bodies have not been found in this remote vast oven where the desert floor reaches temperatures of 175 degrees. It is impossible to know. It is a horrific death.”

People who are trying to support themselves and their families are driven from their homes and their country, risk their lives in the harsh Sonoran Desert, and if they make it to the United States, face being treated as criminal, jailed, and deported without due process.

We all must oppose this blatant oppression. I especially call on the African American community to link arms with Latino and immigrant communities to speak out against these blatant forms of racism and economic exploitation. The rightwing politicians, organizations and movements that oppose immigrant rights are not the friends of African American communities.

We have more in common with immigrants of color. We know firsthand about racism and economic exploitation. And we have faced the hostile mobs, biased employers and racist legislators. So, which side are we on?


  1. great timely piece, will pass this along.....

  2. Thank you for telling it like it is! A brilliant article!

  3. Dear Mr. Lenoir, THANK YOU so much for explaining the true causes, the root of the desperate reasons why people are forced to leave their countries; indeed they are victims of an unfair NAFTA treaty that only the American and Canadian corporations have benefited from.
    I am a Hispanic-American and I wish the African-American community can see that the White republicans/right-wing want to divide us as the "divide and conquer". The right-wing keep saying that the immigrants "hurt" the Black community because they take their jobs. This is ridiculous! why should a Black American compete for a low-level low-paid job? The Black community should and deserve to be competing for the White's high-paying jobs. But the White Right-Wing want to keep your community down and don't want your community to progress and compete with them, and that's why they want you to fight with our immigrant community, to manipulate you. They want the minorities to fight amongst themselves for meager wages and meager education, while they are on the top enjoying high-paid white-collar jobs and sending their children to well funded schools, while us Hispanics, Immigrants and African-Americans are kept in the ghettos and in the barrios with broken schools. Greetings R.Dominguez, California

  4. Thank you Mr. Lenoir. You have spoken the truth. I am a Hispanic/Chicano native New Mexican. The only difference between me and my hermanos coming accross the border is the artificial border established as a result of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848...a treaty that the US attempted to amend unilaterally (see Art. 10)without authority. To my Black/African American brothers and sisters, please join us your brown brothers and sisters in prayer and activism to address this sickness in our society. As OUR county proclaims: we are all created equal. As OUR heavenly father teaches: we are ALL children of God...created in His image. Joe Sedillo in New Mexico

  5. This article makes me sick to my stomach. It is a hate filled racist rant full of fallacies. Twisted to serve the purpose of those that feel they are entitled to something they are not. I am shocked that there are actually people that believe this. Especially those legal US Citizens. Just what is your opinion/solution to your complaints Mr. Lenoir? Complete and utter lawlessness?

  6. This isn't about racism, This is about people choosing to come to this country illegally.
    As a black man I see my people having to compete with illegals for the few jobs that are available. It's bad enough that we don't get hired because of our color but now we have to fight for jobs that are being taken by illegal immigrants! My city has 37% unemployment rate among African Americans. We don't need illegal workers we need JOBS!

  7. The only HATE i see is this twisted article!..Enforcing laws that protect Americans is not racist,and every nation on earth does it.YOU show that YOU are the racist.WE are talking about Nationality,not race!

  8. Living in Arizona for all my 52 years and being white I never had a clue(neither did my Black,Asian and Hispanic friends) I was racist...or my state was until people like Chris Webber stated it on national television in reference to not getting a King holiday(sorry about one nut Mecham), Illegals using the race card to get citizenship and articles like these enlightened me to my lifelong ignorance! I have read SB1070 and know for a fact you are twisting the facts...maybe outright lying would be more honest. Have your readers read the law and find where it states that you can just be pulled over to be questioned about your status. This law mimics Federal law and even California's law has more teeth than this one...and who is chastising them??? And I would suppose you support La Raza in it's quest to kill the White man??? The race card you throw around is an indication that you have nothing to support your fear with. And that lame 'produce subsidy' argument is so weak I can't believe you used it. At most it may only apply to few areas of Mexico. Does that equate to the over 12 million illegals here right now? How can anyone with intelligence take you seriously? Any law you don't agree with you hurry up to cry racism? Why is that? And I could care less where Obama was born but why can't he show a legitimate birth certificate like all other presidents have? What is so difficult about that? Oh, that's racist to ask? Oh, and it's racist to ask for proof of immigration status after someone has committed a crime, can't speak English, has no identification, no insurance, no nothing? Just another fanatical Liberal who doesn't care about OUR country, in my book. My only racist tendency is against ignorance...and that comes in all colors!

  9. RD in Cali, the only thing keeping you and others in the ghetto is ignorance! You have the opportunity to get education just like any White person in your demographic situation. I am a poor White man with little education, no family money, no connections but I made it on integrity. I didn't cry about those who had the money and position, I worked and was honest. I instilled education into my children and they succeeded with college degrees. How come immigrants from Asia and Eastern Europe can come here with nothing and succeed while our Black and Hispanic populations flounder and complain about racism? It doesn't involve racism!!!

  10. Mr. Sedillo, So you want an open border for all to come in? Or only Latinos? Or only Mexicans...as this land was stolen from them? But what land did the treaty of Hildago cover? Should Mexicans only be restricted to those lands then? Or , by your logic, be given free reign to go anywhere on the planet they wish? Think of all the other countries you could claim are racist if you started crossing borders? You could be famous! Maybe they would make you a saint or something. Or maybe the next country would just imprison you as an illegal!!! Countries have borders for a reason and weak minded people like you need to stay out of it. Get an education and be successful and stop blaming the White man for all your problems. You have been given more opportunity here than anywhere else on the planet!!! What you choose to do with it is your responsibility.