Posted on May 3, 2010

Do I Look “Illegal”?–Latino Nationwide Movement Building

"axelcaballero," AlterNet, April 30, 2010

Arizona’s draconian immigration law is creating a wave of Latino social network activism. Following the signing of S.B. 1070, one of the most anti-immigrant laws in the country, Latinos have chosen to mobilize online in numbers rarely seen before. Within 24 hours of launching the “Do I Look ‘Illegal’?” campaign, the Latino page Cuéntame has seen an immediate response–with thousands adopting the mantra and ready to take action.

The Arizona bill has hit a nerve within the Latino community, with emotions ranging from disappointment to right out anger. The idea behind the “Do I Look Illegal” campaign is precisely to channel those emotions into a new form of social network activism. It is aimed at highlighting how the Arizona law essentially institutionalizes the discrimination and persecution of the Latino community through racial profiling.

Along with the visual campaign, there is a nationwide boycott-taking place and a video series being produced to highlight the movement. For a very long time Latinos have represented a strong economic engine for Arizona. It is often one of the most under-rated and misrepresented aspects of the Arizona economy. The spotlight almost always focuses on the effect of undocumented individuals in the state, and as the signing of S.B 1070 shows, the response is almost always backwards, misguided and a direct attack to the community as a whole.

Latinos taking part in this new wave of social network activism have not only spread the message by wearing “Do I Look ‘Illegal’?” T-shirts, signs and posts but are spreading the message of the campaign online via status updates, pictures, blogs, video and making full use of all the social media tools available. It is reminiscent of the Twitter green movement that took place last year. As such Cuéntame along with other Latino groups continue to plan actions in Arizona and Los Angeles with on-the-ground organizations to protest S.B. 1070.

The “Do I Look ‘Illegal’?” movement shows that not only have Latinos arrived in full force to the world of social media activism but that these actions are prompting massive on the ground efforts which represent the first major Latino mobilization in light of the 2010 mid-term elections.