Tuesday, April 27, 2010

There and there and there and back again, plus some thoughts on Arizona

Yes, I'm back from my trip falling off the face of the earth.

We went on a little trip that involved a whole lot of chaos and fun, and left me so exhausted that I didn't even open my computer for nearly two weeks. On top of that, I'm dealing with some mystery illness that first led me to believe I might be pregnant, but it turns out I'm just sick.

But, all of this computer-free living in a feverish near-coma has left me with a lot of time to think. What I really want to do is respond to some comments and questions on my post on cultural bias, but I'm going to let that one continue to simmer a little bit.

That post, however, isn't completely irrelevant to this one. Thoughts on race, culture, bias, prejudice and injustice keep swirling around in my head, and throughout the world around me. We are talking about it at work, at home, in some of my friendships, and it's been SO GOOD to bring into the light some of this darkness that has plagued our relationships, our community and our country.

And then, in the midst of these conversations, about how to really love with a love that crosses barriers (economic, racial, cultural), Arizona made news with its tough new law on immigration.

I've formed myriad opinions on this subject. (I've actually read almost all of the arguments for and against that my facebook friends have posted.) I'd share them with you, but you'd be confused because all of my opinions contradict each other.  Because, the thing is, I get that Arizona is facing a serious issue that needs to be addressed. And, I get that technically law enforcement is not allowed to single out anyone based on race alone.


I also get that people single others out ALL THE TIME based on race, culture, and accent. Not just in Arizona - everywhere. We identify these things, and they trigger a thousand things inside us, many of which boil down to fear. Some of our fears may be based in reality, some not.

I don't live in Arizona, so I probably have no right to criticize a law that exists within a larger context that I haven't actually experienced.

But, here's what I have witnessed first-hand: My husband being asked by total strangers where he's "really" from. My in-laws being treated like foreigners even though they have paid taxes to this country for longer than I've been alive. Also, they actually took an oath to this country, while the people who look down on them (or usually, look past them) earned an incredible amount of rights and freedom just by being born here.

My guess is that people who haven't experienced that kind of treatment don't see what the big deal is about having to carry around documentation of your "right" to be here.

Two of my kids look like they could be hispanic. That might not seem like an issue when they're 4, but it could be a bigger deal if they come of age in a world where it becomes okay to equate "hispanic" with "drug dealer" or "illegal."

But, all of this really isn't about the law. I don't know enough to claim any authority on the politics of it all. This law is probably justifiable. It's probably well-written. But, I think it makes it a little easier to cloak prejudice in something less hideous. Maybe the law isn't racist. But people are. And that's what scares me - not the law, just We, the People.

*As I strive to fight racism in my own heart and in the world, learn more about what it means to have been born with white privilege, and what it might mean to be a white ally, I have been encouraged and challenged by my friend's posts on race and ethnicity at Infinite Queso. If you're also on a journey like this, check out her thoughts and links - I'd love to know what you think.


Shelly said...

Great blog, Suzie, and thanks for the thoughtful post! You may not live in Arizona, but certainly have experienced things many of us could never truly understand! We're moving a little closer to you guys, and will probably be making a few trips a year to Cinn. for Josiah's check-ups (he and Art are there right now) - so hopefully we'll get together soon!

Blessings, and so thankful you're not pregnant right now! (I have shared that frightening experience as well!!!)

shelly snead

DelhiBound said...

Interesting post Suzie. I recently attended a town hall meeting for American citizens and the turnout was by far outweight by Indian nationals who had CHILDREN who were US citizens.

I have to admit that I had a bit of Arizona-attitude at first, as I got annoyed (sorry to say!!) that the Town Hall was overrun by questions and comments about OCI cards and PIO status, etc.

Not until I got home, did I start to realize, remember and acknowledge just what you said ... that those of us who were BORN into our citizenship often take for granted our rights.

Thanks for the reminder!