Why the Arizona Russell Pearce Election is Vitalby President of Somos A. Bustos on Sep. 28, 2011, under Increased Hate Crimes against Latinos, Latino Get Out the Vote for 2012, Tequila Party Movement, The Nativist Anti-immigrant Movement
Why the Arizona 2011 Special Election is vital.
By: Rosa Garcia, Mesa, Arizona, Tequila Party Leader and founder of Boricuas for the Tequila Causa
There was a prostitute who serviced clients in a van in front of our house. There were Crips and Bloods constantly shooting at each other. The last straw was the attempted break-in of our home. I was alone with my 6-week infant, therefore we moved to Arizona with good reason.
We purchased a house two times the size of our old home for a third of what it would have sold for in California, and it finally felt good walking around after dark in a safe neighborhood. Arizona jobs came easily and we could hardly believe our luck. It was Providence that brought us to Arizona. Burned out and unwilling to work more than part- time, I sought a position for classroom support at the local school. My job description was to teach the children, but in retrospect, that job was meant to teach me.
Here are some of the lessons I learned the hard way while living and working in Mesa, Arizona (home of State Senator Russell Pearce who is currently being forced into a special elections):
Art. The first thing I learned was colors. In Arizona you are one of two colors. First there is White, a primary-majority color. Next there is Brown, a secondary- demoralized color.
In Mesa, the color brown has two shades. One shade is a “Legal Brown” – which is tolerable so long as you don’t come across as “too ethnic”. The other shade is “Illegal Brown” – which is considered morally reprehensible and should promptly “go back to where they came from”. “Legal Brown” is often lumped together with “Illegal Brown”, where “Legal Browns” get deported by Sheriff Joe Arpaio. I am lucky enough to pass for Anglo even though I’m Puerto Rican.
My husband, a very obvious Brown, is not as fortunate. His close cut black hair, deep brown eyes and slight Central American accent makes him a target. He has been the victim of racial profiling on more than one occasion. It happened more often after the signing of SB 1070, and it doesn’t matter to law enforcement that he was born a U.S. citizen. Nor is it important that he spends his days supporting the war effort through his work at a defense agency. All that matters is that he looks like someone who is trespassing.
Economics. The decrease in enrollment in our schools has been devastating for Arizona but it was the teachers that were hit the hardest. Many families left out of fear. When families fled, their money went with them . Not only did teachers suffer salary freezes but now many were playing the role of special counselors. The students were nervous. Several asked me if it was true that Arpaio was going to take them out of their beds at night and arrest them. These kids were 6 and 7 year olds. Imagine trying to teach a group of children who were afraid they were going to be deported. Their young minds were focused on whether or not their families were going to be ripped apart instead of education.
We would have lost more families had it not been for some compassionate grown-ups. One kindhearted school principal, a former Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) Bishop, went around from classroom to classroom reassuring the young students that he would not allow Arpaio to arrest them while at school. Russell Pearce calls himself LDS but he is a disgrace to many LDS folks who work to unify families according to the teachings of their religion.
As if things weren’t bad enough, Arizona Proposition 300 (a total failure), ruined job prospects for Adult Educational (AE) teachers. This law required all AE students to show proof of lawful presence. I am for educational access to citizens. We pay taxes and should benefit from our own money through publicly funded schooling. Many claim that “those illegals don’t want to Speak English.” Yet, they don’t give the chance to teach them English. I am certified in Adult Education, therefore, I would like to use my skills to improve conditions for all of us. Worried about the economy? Let people work and you will see an improved economy.
Vocabulary. Lastly, I learned that certain words can mean one thing in one place and a totally different thing in another. For instance, in the State of California, Republican means conservative. Conservative means pro-life and pro-family.
In Arizona, Republican means sanctity of life for those that are born here to the exclusion of all others. Who cares if people die in the desert or if mothers give birth in handcuffs? They are just criminals, right? Being Republican in Arizona means you are like Pearce, Arpaio and Governor Jan Brewer. Olivia Cortes is another reason to be embarrassed by the Republican Party since Russell Pearce supporters helped her to get elected on the ballot with their dastardly deeds to dilute the voting pool for the upcoming special election on November 8, 2011.
When SB 1070 passed I swore I would leave this state. A pastor friend of mine asked why I would do that, and I told him I didn’t want my kids living in a place that hated them. He replied, “That is why you should stay. Fight! If you leave they win.”
I decided to stay and fight.
But, hey, what do I know? I’m just some Puerto Rican girl from the hood.