Home > Does anybody look like me?, Ground Zero, reflections on race, Wild Child > THIS is why I cannot, will not, comply.

THIS is why I cannot, will not, comply.

I was talking to my son just a while ago about some events taking place later this week, and as I was explaining civil disobedience & non violent resistance (It’s like you ripping up that test last spring, even after the teacher threatened your grade), we talked a little more about why I feel SB 1070 is an unjust and immoral law.

Anybody who knows me personally would most likely agree that I probably talk to my kids about race, stereotypes and racial profiling more than anybody we know.  

According to statistics, they are conversations that many who are in a position to do so, avoid. These are not easy conversations to have, and there are many times where I feel wholly inadequate in teaching my children to navigate through this muck. Sure, there are plenty of rainbow conversations about how we’re all heart and spirit under our skin early on, but there are many more that are painful. Like taking a potatoe peeler or cheese grater to your skin. Because sometimes by the time it’s over, you are ready to flay the skin from your own body and every body else’s just to be done with it. Sometimes because someone said some hateful thing to or in front of your child or they said some hateful thing to someone else… but as time goes on, sometimes you learn they have picked up some stereotype or prejudice of their own.

But still, no matter how difficult or painful, these conversations are some of the most important a parent can have with a child.

When I asked my son what might lead an officer to suspect someone was not in the country legally and he answered, with only a little doubt in his voice…

Arizona in Crayola: Multicultural, I guess. Non-toxic, debatable.

“Their race.”

To which I countered,

“What race are Americans?”

He responded, 


With no hesitation. None whatsoever.

And it wasn’t until I looked at him… HARD… and said, “Really?” that he realized what he’d said.

The thing is, it’s not like he’s obtuse about racial stereotypes. I’ve heard him make a damn convincing arguement to a friend that Transformers (which I’ve never seen or commented on) is a racist movie. 

My son is only 14 years old, and already he’s picked up the subconcious message about who is American and who is not. My son is only 14 years old, it already it is imbedded somewhere in his subconcious that Americans are white.

Despite youth, his own identity, despite his father, stepmother, his paternal aunt, uncles, and grandfather, all of whom were born in this country and proudly served in the miiltary, despite his witness of all the years the girls’ dad spent battling immigration to get citizenship, despite my efforts, and despite everything he’s ever learned in church…

Kinda blows that post racial America myth all to Hell. And frankly, doesn’t give me much confidence that people who lived in “pre racial” America for 30 or 40 or 50 years don’t harbor those subconcious impressions as well.

This law does nothing to secure our borders. It does nothing to address drug trafficking. It does not change the black market of human smggling that our broken immigration system has created. This law justifies racial profiling. It erodes trust in public officials. It divides communities. It tears families apart.

It is a means that neither justifies or accomplishes a desireable end.

Todos somos Arizona.

  1. July 27, 2010 at 3:37 AM

    Wow, this is quite interesting. I’m going to ask the kiddies at school and church this question to see where their heads are.

  2. Ei
    July 27, 2010 at 5:42 AM

    Man I love you. I want to tell you about MY trip to Kansas…when I get caught up at work. Love you baby. Be a good criminal today.

  3. Barb Hildebrandt
    July 27, 2010 at 8:16 AM

    Great post. My daughter has been writing a blog about current events and her thoughts on the future of our country. She is going to do a post on the Arizona law soon. Right now she is upset about capital punishment. It is a good read. Check it out and pass it on.


  4. Becky
    July 27, 2010 at 6:33 PM

    I love you too! ❤

  5. Stephanie
    September 12, 2010 at 10:56 AM

    Just about everyone I know black, white, or biracial seems to think the same unconscious thing – Americans are white. This is a societal thing, so I hope you don’t feel like you did anything wrong as a mother. I’m Afriacan American and 38 years-old. When I was 18 and in college, a white friend was talking to a Chinese friend. I can’t remember the exact convo but they were describing someone as either Chinese or “American”. By American they meant white. I called them on it and asked, “By American do you mean Black, White, Mexican, Chinese, Native American, etc…???” They looked shocked and a little ashamed too. But we have to watch these things.

  1. August 25, 2010 at 12:02 AM
  2. December 6, 2010 at 11:25 PM
  3. December 9, 2010 at 11:01 PM

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