SBS 301 Cultural Diversity/Prof. Koptiuch         Fall 2015       Personal Memory Ethnographies

Ariel Diaz

Borderlands: The Realization of Ethnic Discrimination in the 21st C

     In the summer of 2011 I turned 18 years old. I discovered the world wasn’t as friendly and open as I had previously believed. I had just been approved for my first apartment in a relatively nice area. I chose a gated community in North Scottsdale so I could be close to my family, friends and college campus. ‘I woke up this morning to a bunch of Mexicans moving furniture into the condo above mine. I thought their presence was temporary but boy was I wrong.’ I was a happy go lucky young adult ready to take on the responsibility of living on my own. ‘I thought that is what we were paying the Home Owners Association to do; keep out the vermin! One of the Mexicans stayed behind, it couldn’t be older than 18.’

     On my very first night in my new place I noticed a middle-aged man watching me walk to my apartment. I immediately felt the tension in the air thicken as I walked by.

Dregs of society! Everywhere! I have been living in the same neighborhood for over 10 years. How can those people assume that they have the right to waltz in here and live among us.

    I dismissed the unwelcoming feeling the moment I walked inside. A few hours later I decided to meet a friend for dinner. I casually walked out to the parking lot and the same middle-aged man was watching me walk by again. In an effort to be neighborly, I smiled and waved. As I approached my parking space, my face fell in disbelief; my car was gone. In a state of panic I slowly walked up and down the parking lot to see if I had parked in a different spot.

It probably came into this country illegally.  I thought SB 1070 would send all of them back to where they came from? Maybe it needs some help remembering that it doesn’t belong here.

    A security guard informed me that the car in my parking space had been towed a few hours prior.

This girl is only one of many that need to be taught a lesson.

   Obviously upset, I walked in the direction of my apartment but this time the middle-aged man was laughing at me. He looked me directly in the eye and said,  “That should teach a wetback like you to rent a condo in a white neighborhood.”

I am calling the towing company to report a pile of junk on the condominium grounds.  That illegal probably won’t be able to afford to take it out of the tow yard. (Smiling smugly)

    My new neighbor, the middle aged man, had my car towed. I had not committed any violations in my new complex; he simply called a towing company to make sure I knew I was not welcomed.

If those people understood their place I would not have to deal with them in my neighborhood.

    The realization that someone had such hatred toward me because of the color of my skin took a long minute to sink in. I was utterly outraged that in the 21st century I was being treated as a second-class citizen.

That wetback doesn’t deserve to live in this neighborhood. Just look at that cheap car she drives, it must be at least 10 years old. If we start to accept cars like that our property value will start to decline and I will be suffering because of it.

    The borderlands of ethnic discrimination do not disappear when the laws of the land change.

     Immigration has been a hot topic in Arizona due to our closeness to the U.S./Mexico border. In the early 1970’s, 4 out of 5 immigrants in the U.S. were from Mexico. My incident took place in the summer of 2011. The man that discriminated against me was in his mid to late 40’s. He was brought up during a time where his surroundings were vastly changing due to the increase of immigrants coming from the U.S./Mexico border. The area where he lived, Scottsdale, consisted of wealthy white families. Historically, there has been a large gap between the income and wealth of white families and minority families. In 1994, white families on average earned 8 times as much as the average non-white family. Back in 1994, it was very rare for minorities to be able to afford to live in a ‘wealthy’ area.

     Racial profiling has been a hot topic in the media lately but it was also covered in the 1990’s due to high profile cases in New Jersey and Maryland. Police officers there were found guilty of racial profiling and violating civil rights. My neighbor did not know my name, age, or ethnicity. He profiled me based of the color of my skin and appearance of wealth. My neighbor was in his 20’s during the 1865 debate of immigration laws. In 1994 Operation Hold the Line was launched which called for the ‘tightening of the border.’ Border patrol was doubled between Cuidad Juarez and El Paso. Immigrants from Mexico were seen as invaders who must be limited and controlled with force. The white majority was also at risk in the U.S.. Four states in the U.S. no longer held white majorities; TX, NM, CA, and HI. My neighbor witnessed immigrants taking over the states surrounding him. He saw me as an invader of HIS territory.

     The restriction of entrance at the U.S./Mexico border did not lighten. In the mid 2000’s President Bush signed the ‘Secure the Fence ACT,’ which called for 700 miles of border fencing along the U.S. Mexico border. In essence, this promoted anti immigration views. My neighbor was most likely a supporter of the larger security on the border based on the way he treated me when I moved into his neighborhood. He carried a sense of entitlement as he had been living in his neighborhood with people who were mainly white. The major events regarding immigration tie into some of the reasons why my neighbor chose to discriminate against me in the 21st century.

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