One month after SB 1070, change seen in Arizona
Randy Parraz will change state's legacy, after he wins Senate race
It was one month ago that Arizona changed.
One month ago, Gov. Jan Brewer signed the draconian bill SB 1070 into law, legalizing racial profiling. One might think that Russell Pearce would be disqualified from writing our state's laws after being forced to resign in scandal as head of the state's MVD. But not in Arizona.
Arizona is one of the most beautiful states in the nation, with the most national parks of any state. We also have the most Native American land set aside for reservations and Navajos, Hopi, Tohono O'odham are just a few of the groups you will find who call Arizona home, in addition to my own people, the Yaquis.
Arizona also has huge, beautiful tracts of land set aside as wilderness areas, with no roads and no plans to build on them. If you want to travel through them, you must leave nothing behind and not alter anything.
It is exactly this beauty – the sacred Baboquivari wilderness area, the land of the Tohono O'odham nation – that has brought the recent ugliness to our state in the form of racism and xenophobia.
The TO nation does not know the imaginary line in the sand. It extends into Sonora. These are a people who have been migrating across this desert before Christopher Columbus. You really think a 12-foot fence in the middle of the desert is going to stop them?
What has changed?
If you have a large uneducated population, the way you win the people over is through heated propaganda. With a perfect mix of fear, beautiful women, and flashy graphics, the gullible are easily swayed.
Before, in presidential politics, the issue was abortion.Then the right got smarter and added gay marriage to the mix.
But now the right can now tap into something even more fundamental in humans, something more powerful too: racism and xenophobia.
We now have a black president. This has immediately brought out the worst in some. It began with the birther movement that still continues today. The black president isn't even American.
Now this would seem easily dismissed, but there a double-digit percentage of people who believe this, and it does something even more destructive, it moves the extreme right even more to the right, and so now venturing in unsafe territory is now considered "moderate."
And it gets worse.
Arizona was home to the Hohokam for ages, and home to the many native American groups who still live here. This land was also officially Mexico before it was the U.S. If you look at a timeline of people living here, it would be only brown-skinned people for most of it, and even now brown-skinned people make up a big chunk of the population.
Who is calling whom an immigrant?
Arizona is the ancestral home to my family. You are welcome to join us, but don't feel like you own the place now and try to kick us out!
This has led to a new level of awareness in Arizona and in Tucson. The race issue is right here, right before us.
From birther bills, to SB 1070, to HB 2281 – which bans ethnic studies from being taught in TUSD – and the upcoming SB 1097.
There is also an attempt to ban English teachers with an accent . . . but not just any accent, only Spanish accents.
When SB 1070 was signed into law, our own U.S. Sen. John McCain came out in favor of it.
From the only democratic candidate at that time – Rodney Glassman – no public speeches showing disapproval. A blog post here, an email there . . . nothing much from someone who wants to be a member in the body that will be in charge of immigration reform, the U.S. Senate.
But out of all the ugliness that Arizona has been mired in, came a labor and civil rights activist who is now ready to replace McCain!
Randy Parraz, who organized with Dolores Huerta to fight for the farmworkers, will be our next U.S. senator from Arizona!
And the community has come together like never before. The hatred and xenophobic ignorance is present for sure, but at least now it is out in the open . . . and now we are ready to take it on!
Arizona is a special place and the future will be determined by what happens here. The next generation of leaders is being forged right now.
Fear is gone. And that's what scares our racist legislature.
One month later, the consciousness of Tucson continues to change. There is something special going on here.
David is a doctoral candidate in Applied Mathematics and works in the field of anthropological genetics at the University of Arizona. Born and raised in Tucson, he received his undergraduate degrees in Mathematics and Computer science, and is also working on science documentaries as a scientific advisor and producer with VientoFuego productions, also based in Tucson.