Black and Brown Unite to Fight SB 1070
The term racial profiling has been part of my vocabulary and reality for nearly 15 years now, but it shouldn’t be. While the terminology for the practice of profiling people based on their perceived race, ethnicity and nationality is regarded as taboo, many in this nation have a nasty habit of trying to re-introduce it over and over again. As African-Americans, we are well aware that, whether driving or walking, our skin color can be a legal liability. The problem is that we, as united communities, have not learned to speak out against the various forms of racial profiling that continue to be floated as legislation and policy. The controversy of SB 1090 in Arizona is a perfect time for us to join our voices against injustice, but too many of us are without comment and are missing the larger picture.
Recently, the Arizona legislature signed a bill which allows agencies to demand verification of immigration status if there is “reasonable suspicion” that the person being questioned is an “illegal alien.” The minute I heard “reasonable suspicion,” I myself became suspicious of this bill given my own experiences with racial profiling. The sad reality is that there has been a continued emphasis on immigration control, not immigration reform, in a national culture that increasingly centers on fear. This culture of fear continues to allow racial profiling to curb the civil and human rights of Black and Brown people.