Friday, May 21, 2010

Not easy being brown, except for chocolate

Forget about green. These days, it’s not easy being brown – especially if you live in Arizona.

Unless you’re a white person with a real dark tan. And even then you’re in danger of being mistaken for a Mexican after dark.

Arizona’s brand new immigration law, which critics say will lead to racial profiling, has caused a nationwide furor. Police are now required to stop anyone they suspect might be here illegally and demand they prove otherwise. If you look Mexican and forget your wallet, critics say, you’ll go to jail.

Famous people like Al Sharpton and Danny Glover are coming here to lead protests. Television talk show hosts are having a field day. Even the Suns and Diamondbacks have joined in the fray.

As an innocent bystander, I say maybe it’s time to step back, take a deep breath, and try to look at the whole mess from a fresh perspective.

Let me say right up front that I understand some of the fears that led our state to this very uncomfortable place. How illegal immigrants are taking jobs from legitimate citizens. How they’re utilizing medical and other services that we end up subsidizing. How porous borders lead to criminal acts, up to and including an increased risk of terrorism. How we Arizonans, because of our geographic proximity to Mexico, have suffered more than most from all of the above.

But I also understand the human side. Call me a bleeding heart liberal, but I have to wonder if God really meant for us to create these artificial boundaries that can keep an entire people mired in poverty. Don’t cross this line, even to feed your family, seems a little harsh.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with Mexicans. In fact, I can’t remember a negative encounter.

Of course, coming from Michigan my experience is limited. Before I moved to Arizona 30 years ago, I was only aware of one Mexican family – and they, as you might imagine, stayed pretty much to themselves.

Back then there were no Mexican restaurants in Michigan. Not even a Taco Bell. I had never heard of Cinco de Mayo. And Felice Navidad could have been Greek for all we knew.

If there was any evidence of Mexico in Michigan back then, it was pretty much limited to those statues of a guy wearing a big sombrero taking a siesta, his plaster donkey waiting patiently by his side.

The Consort, on the other hand, has spent a lot of time in Mexico, especially Rocky Point, and she absolutely loves the Mexican people. Innocent enough. And I suspect your experiences are similar.

So how have we Arizonans managed to again become the brunt of bad jokes and angry protests? Recalling the brouhaha over our state’s reluctance to observe Martin Luther King’s birthday, the question, I guess, is why do we Arizonans keep putting ourselves in this place?

Is there something about our desert psyche that makes us gluttons for ridicule? Have we been out in the sun too long? Is it our fiercely independent, maverick nature that results in a John Wayne/Clint Eastwood mentality.

Or are our governors and legislators more interested in getting re-elected than anything else? If that’s the case, they best be careful. We the people of Arizona are fairly divided, although polls do indicate a slight majority in favor of the new bill.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure it makes me more likely to vote for these clowns. I kind of feel like I’m being taken along on a ride I really didn’t ask for.

A part of me believes we’re being miscast as villains. Not too long ago, Arizona was the only state whose top three elected officials were women. I can remember my brother in San Francisco expressing his amazement.

Of course, Arizona has always tilted to the right, but less so all the time. And most of us would agree that Mexican culture has infinitely enriched life in Arizona. The music. The food. The color.

The one big exception is the luminarias that Arizonans put out at Christmas time (although The Consort suspects they might have originated in New Mexico). All I can say is if God wanted us to put candles in paper bags, he wouldn’t have named them lunch bags.

They are the lawn fashion equivalent of those plastic pink flamingos your Aunt Hazel has lining the driveway to her park model in Florida. (Disclaimer: The Consort disagrees with me about luminarias – and plastic pink flamingos.)

Anyway, the Christian thing to do is to think of others instead of ourselves. I wouldn’t want to be a Mexican in Arizona these days – even a legal one. As I said, it’s not easy being brown.

Therefore I propose we show our solidarity for things brown in an apolitical way – by eating more chocolate.

And actually that could help alleviate some of feelings of persecution associated with being an Arizona resident these days. Because, according to a University of California study (leave it to those hedonistic Californians to study chocolate), adults who are severely depressed devour an average of 12 one-ounce servings of chocolate a month – the equivalent of about 75 Hershey’s Kisses or 4.7 of those big chocolate Easter bunnies – the hollow kind.

Did all that chocolate help their depression? Not really, according to the study. But if you’re looking for an excuse to indulge, we think you can make the case.

Just be careful not to get it on your face and hands – and then go out on the street after dark.


Anonymous said...

"Police are now required to stop anyone they suspect might be here illegally and demand they prove otherwise." That statement isn't true, Mr Keyworth. Have you read the law? You shouldn't perpetuate this lie. And if you "meant" that that is what the critics are saying, then you should state that.

All American said...

Police are now required to stop anyone they suspect might be here illegally and demand they prove otherwise. If you look Mexican and forget your wallet, critics say, you’ll go to jail.

Sorry, I did not see post above before I posted.

Jim, Your telling lies just like the rest of the lying media. " NO WHERE" does it say the police are required to stop anyone. I hope the great people who wear the Badge and hold there honor with a high degree do not take offense to your comments. You should be ashamed. I often disagree with you on many things, but you crossed the line with your lies. What a sad little man you have become.