SBS 301 Cultural Diversity/Prof. Koptiuch         Fall 2014       Personal Memory Ethnographies

K. Carmona

Discrimination: Have we Really Made Progress?

            During the whole SB1070 controversy many people were concerned about how this law would affect people in Arizona. To this day I still don’t know how people can differentiate between who would be legal or illegal by the way they look. This law amongst other issue going on right now shows us how far behind we are in resolving racial and discrimination issues that affect society as a whole.

            I became a victim of racial profiling when the SB 1070 proposition had become in effect. My husband and I were driving in his small beat-up truck through the city of Avondale on a hot summer evening on the West side of town on the intersection of Buckeye and Avondale Boulevard, when we were pulled over. A police officer pulled us over for passing a car without putting a signal on. “These people are driving recklessly”, the cop might have thought.  There must have been people speeding, or even jay walking, but we were the ones to get stopped by the police. When the cop got out of the car to interrogate my husband, the first thing he asked him was if he spoke English. That did infuriate me, because the cop was already judging him.  “This is how I was trained.”  He asked my husband in a very demanding voice, “where is your identification card (ID)”, my husband replied, “I don’t have an ID, but I can show you my license.” I remember the cop staring at us as if we had something to hide. “I must remain firm and not show any kind of fear or weakness as we work with highly dangerous criminals, even though these people don’t seem to project any project type of threat”. I did become overwhelmed with this intense rush of blood when we were interrogated.  Maybe the cop was just doing his job.

SB1070 focused on immigrants but also affected minorities. This law as well as other laws in the past like Proposition 187 in California, which prohibited immigrants from obtaining public services like education and healthcare, has been used by law enforcement to target racial/ethnic characteristics. Many people were concerned about how this law would affect people in Arizona, in general. I don’t know how people can differentiate between who would is legal or illegal, how would someone be able to fully tell?

I felt violated, frustrated and saddened to think that in this day in age we have not accepted others for who they are. Because you look and talk a certain way, doesn’t mean anything. At the same time, the authorities need to do their job when people break a law.

We need to get to know other peoples as well as their cultures and stop bashing others for the simple reason that they are different from us. I have to also accept the fact that law enforcement needs to keep vigilant and follow laws as well. We cannot change others but we can change the way we see others. Society and the media put so much emphasis on racial issues and immigration issues and leave out much more important matters such as disease outbreaks and/or world hunger. I am not saying those are not important issues because the safety and well-being of others is obviously of high importance. If we take the time to know others, we would not be so judgmental and we would be more accepting of others.

We have made a lot of progress when it comes to dealing with immigration and when it comes to accepting people, people in a general sense. But there are those who refuse to accept the fact that we are different, have different backgrounds, and they don’t want to and shouldn’t have to change the way they look, the way they speak, or follow their views. This is what makes us unique, special, and defines who we are. There are many people and laws that want to do just that, try to change people and mold them to have their same views, and to have the right to discriminate, and judge a person based on how they look, based on what they drive, dress and/or the language they speak.

Laws like SB 1070 aim to change people and deprive them of basic but important things such as education, and the right to roam the streets without being harassed. When my husband and I were projected, we clearly fit the description of those under suspicion of being here illegally. We are brown skinned Mexican-American, we were in a beat up car, and we were driving on a poor neighborhood.

People say these laws are not about discrimination, they are about protecting society and protecting employment. I call that “Bull Crap”. I don’t buy it and I will stand by how I feel about these laws. They are absurd! People have been discriminated against throughout time, but laws like this one show us that we have not made much improvement when it comes to accepting people and discriminating based solely on appearance. There are those close-minded and self-centered individuals who do not care about peoples struggles and the fact that most of them are not terrorists, rapists, murderers and/or want to “take” people’s jobs, they come here because their countries are more screwed up than ours and want the opportunity to be able to provide for themselves and for their families in their perspective countries. I’m not saying immigrants won’t or have not committed crimes, yes many probably have. But non-immigrant commit crimes all the time. Many people still find a way to blame immigrants for a lot of the problems in this country. Many people feel they should receive jobs, benefits, and assistance without trying to obtain a job and they still find a way to criticize those who are willing to work for close to nothing to be able to send their loved ones funds in order to be able to survive and send their children to school, to be able to nourish them, provide the basic needs that we enjoy in our everyday lives that sometimes we take for granted.

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