Charlene Muhammad, Final Call (Chicago), May 11, 2010
The fall out over passage of an anti-immigration law in Arizona continued across the United States this week with people wondering is America being reduced to a nation “for Whites only?”
Anti-racism activist and author Tim Wise says a sense of “White racial anxiety,” has in his view, “taken over large segments of White America.”
According to Mr. Wise, the sense of entitlement that Whites have always enjoyed is being challenged by demographic data showing the growth of Black and Brown populations projected to become equal with the White population by 2050, as well as a change in the political landscape, demonstrated by the first Black president of the United States.
“This idea that White folks give voice to every now and then that they’re losing their country, sometimes they mean with Black folks and the Black president and sometimes they’re referring to Latinos and Brown folks. It seems that though, when White folks say that they’re referring to some nostalgic sentiments of the past that they want to resurrect,” said Mr. Wise.
“They can’t fathom a country wherein they are not the norm, the prototype of what an American is. The way they’ve grown up for years is when they hear the word American, they see their (own) face and people of color have never been able to have that reaction, that when they talk about American, they’re talking about me, but White folks have, so when all of a sudden you’ve got to share that title, that symbol with Black and Brown people that have different names and faith traditions than yours, that shakes them up because they have that sense of entitlement.”
“This law is a very racist law and it’s persecuting people of color and very much affecting people of dark complexion. If you do not look Anglo you could be questioned and asked for your documents, but in our cases, even though we are of Afro descent, we have accents but they could ask for documentation from all of us,” and many people are now afraid to even go out of their homes in Arizona, said Eunice Escobar, a board member of the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America and member of the Association of Afro Columbians in Displacement.
“The legalization of the 12 million people and their families is the most effective solution to the Arizona bill,” Mr. Rodriguez told The Final Call. He charged that the right wing plan is to create conditions for the undocumented that are so miserable and uncomfortable, people will self deport and to some degree, that occurred in the 1930s and 1950s with Operation Wetback, the United States’ repatriation project that targeted primarily Mexicans.
Under Operation Wetback, the U.S. Border Patrol found more than one million undocumented immigrants when they raided Mexican American barrios in Southeastern states in 1954. They sought identification from “Mexican-looking” citizens they stopped on the streets and ultimately, many immigrants were deported and many others fled the U.S.
Now history is repeating itself and without swift, strategic action, opponents of the bill argued, its negative profiling implications could permeate America’s entire infrastructure, including the Prison Industrial Complex, and its health care and education systems, for starters.
Not just Arizona
Already, other states are signaling that they could follow Arizona’s suit.
“There were eight the last time I heard, who are thinking about copy cat legislation,” said Mr. Wise. “One of the things that makes that likely is that the folks who were behind this in Arizona are members of a loosely affiliated set of groups that have a history of White supremacy, White nationalism, like FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform), (Sen.) Russell Pearce (R-AZ), the main sponsor in Arizona. Those folks have a connection to a larger network of national groups and individuals. No doubt, Arizona was just a test case,” he added.