Adding to Racial Profiling Law, Arizona Strikes Ethnic Studies

By Erin Matson, NOW Action Vice President

Two days ago, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed a law limiting ethnic studies classes in public schools. HB2281 was created to address what state schools chief Tom Horne, also running for state attorney general, identifies as the promotion of “ethnic chauvinism” and so-called racial resentment toward whites.

A cursory review of Horne’s campaign website makes clear who is attempting to stoke racial resentment against whom. With a photo purposefully distorted to, you know, make it pretty difficult to see the white man in the cowboy hat and tube socks in the left corner, and alarming text suggesting a “Mexican revolt in the U.S.” is nigh, and repeated address to the citizens of Arizona as, apparently, “victims and taxpayers,” we can see that barring ethnic studies was the next step in Arizona’s now-sustained effort to intimidate, harass and erase those implicitly non-white ‘aggressors and non-taxpayers’ in our country. If you think this is the end of attempts to enshrine nativism as the official state motto of Arizona, you’re probably fooling yourself — and know that what happens in one state can happen in others.

One of the stated concerns of HB2281 was to bar classes “designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group.” That’s wrong-headed; it would also be wrong-headed to believe protests against racist anti-immigrant laws and sentiment should be left entirely to people of color. The purpose of this post is to call on white people to do more than shake heads, but also actively and avidly join the struggle against the real anti-Americanism within our borders. Tube socks and all.

Many creative forms of resistance to Arizona’s SB1070 “papers, please” law have begun around the country. We need more resistance. What are you doing to promote tolerance, safety and respect for immigrants?

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