Por QueEstelle Gonzales Walgreen
The Deafening Silence of Arizona Hispanics
Everywhere you turn coverage of Arizona’s immigration law SB1070 is omnipresent, the lawsuits, the weather-worn Governor’s face, the protests – its all there. However, something is strangely missing and that is the angry, loud voice of Arizona’s Hispanics. Various polls have shown where the nation’s Hispanics stand and it’s not in support of SB 1070, approximately 70% are against it. Reason would follow that Arizona Hispanics, who would be the most likely stopped, questioned or detained, would be staggeringly in opposition. Not so. ¿Por Que?
There is a reason why Arizona and Governor Jan Brewer did not appear worried that SB1070 would enrage the states Hispanic constituency, one of the larger in the U.S. Could it be because of the 1.9 million Arizona Hispanics, representing 30% of the population ONLY one-out-of-ten is a registered voter. How did these Arizonian Hispanics, half of which are foreign-born, sire a 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation that is incrementally in favor of SB1070?
Are the naturalized Hispanic citizens of Arizona too busy assimilating and now strangers to hunger, hopelessness and no longer on a first name basis with racial persecution? Has it occurred to them that these illegal crossers see in them all that they hope to be: fed secure, employed and societal contributors? Try to remember the balls it takes to leave your home, your patria, what you know, so that you and your family can eat. You have been the beneficiary of the blind eye turned to many that came here illegally during economically prosperous times, when no one spoke of border terrorists or cared who crossed the border as long as their lawns were mowed and cheap labor plentiful.
Are they at a loss for the appropriate expression, the right words to fit the injustice implied in SB 1070 or worse are they simply absent by design, silenced by fear of association with “them”?
Arizona shamefully has Hispanic’s like Alberto Rodriguez, in his broken English justifying his co-founding of “You Don’t Belong Here” on television and others when asked seeing SB1070 as a much needed crackdown, not caring which way the problem of the porous border is solved. Then there is Reverend Steve Montenegro, the Republican Hispanic State representative who voted for SB1070, claiming he came here legally so others should follow suit. Conveniently, he forgets to mention he and his family were granted citizenship based on an asylum application due to religious persecution in El Salvador and didn’t have to wait the 20-years on average it takes to become a U.S. citizen if you are from Mexico or Central America.
Some words of advise for those Arizonan’s, born and raised in this country of Hispanic descent, like myself and one of many sitting and watching your silence in embarrassment: if you don’t want to be painted with the same brush of identification, its too late your “rasgo” of brown tint, broad noses and black eyes give it away – the Aztec imprint is irrefutable. Many of you have used the minority business designation to get federal contracts, many have benefited from Affirmative Action and bilingual education that came in great part due to the swelling numbers of Hispanics who advocated for these benefits on your behalf. Now its time to advocate for others who can’t.
We all know that life is a succession of misunderstandings all leading to a final truth and here it is loud and clear, they don’t like your kind whether legal, illegal or otherwise. A state that crafts legislation without the input of 30% of the most affected population is not interested in hearing you and has taken advantage of your inertia. A state whose legacy in dealing with non-whites is ominous and includes interment camps for its Japanese-American citizens during WWII, the Phoenix Indian Camps where countless racially motivated abuses took place and being the last state to recognize Martin Luther King as a federal holiday.
Now is not the time for our cultural affinity of indifference and allowing others to do the advocating to exist, the stakes are too high. Remember one has a moral obligation to take responsibility for one’s actions that includes one’s silences and your silence is being heard the loudest.