[News] Scenes From Apartheid Arizona
news at freedomarchives.org
Thu May 6 11:07:55 EDT 2010
May 6, 2010
Scenes From Apartheid Arizona
Welcome to Operation Streamline
By ROBERTO RODRIGUEZ
TUCSON HIGH SCHOOL: As I prepare to speak to an
innovative class here about Indigenous
philosophies, the students begin their class in the following manner:
In Lak Ech Tu eres mi otro yo You are my
other self. I am you and you are me. If I hurt
you, I hurt myself. If I hate you, I hate myself.
If I love and respect you, I love and respect myself.
Students here, part of Tucson Unified School
Districts highly successful Mexican American
Studies (MAS) K-12 program (the largest in the
nation), are taught this and other Indigenous
concepts, including other ways of measuring time
(Aztec & Maya calendars). Not coincidentally,
academically, MAS students many of who were
doing poorly prior to entering this program
consistently outperform their peers, and it is
virtually a college-bound factory.
State capitol, Phoenix, Arizona: 518 years after
Columbus initiated the theft of a continent,
Arizonas state superintendent of schools, Tom
Horne has just declared, via the passage of HB
2281, that Indigenous peoples and Indigenous
knowledge are [still] outside of Western Civilization.
In his relentless campaign against Ethnic
Studies, the would-be governor has just
engineered the passage of a new draconian state
law that seeks to ban the teaching of ethnic
studies [by withdrawing its funding]. This is the
same state that recently passed the racial
profiling SB 1070 law; the primary targets would
be Mexicans and Central Americans with Indigenous
features, suspected of being illegal aliens.
Despite the success of the MAS program, Horne has
long expressed the view that the only things that
should be taught in Arizona schools are things
that originate in Western or Greco-Roman
Civilization. While his bill affects the whole
state, his actual target has long been Tucsons program.
HB 2281 causes the geographic dislocation of the
continent. Acting as Royal cosmographer, Horne
has ruled that maiz (Mesoamerican) knowledge
indigenous to this continent and the
philosophical foundation for MAS is subversive
and not part of Western civilization and does not
belong in the West. Through the bill, he also
mischaracterizes the program by claiming that its
teachers preach hate, segregation,
anti-Americanism and the violent overthrow of the
government. The bill sets up an inquisitorial
mechanism that will monitor books and curriculum.
Horne has been especially critical of Rudy
Acuñas Occupied America and Paolo Freires
Pedagogy of the Oppressed. (Separately, the
Arizona Department of Education has banned
teachers with heavy accents from teaching English classes).
Welcome to Apartheid Arizona. Despite Arizonas
oppressive climate, many claim that the use of the term apartheid is overblown.
Tucson federal courthouse: Like clockwork, at
1:30 p.m., 70 short, brown men (sometimes a few
women) occupy the left side of the courtroom,
shackled at the ankles, the waist and the wrists.
Within one hour, they are charged, tried and
convicted en masse of being illegally present in
the United States. After being dehumanized, they
are then paraded out of the courtroom. Most have
either served or are sentenced to the private
detention facility, operated by the Correctional
Corporation of America. This drama unfolds
everyday here, every weekday of the year.
Welcome to Operation Streamline. Its goal is to
criminalize every migrant that steps into this
kangaroo court, while enriching CCA to the tune of some $15 million per month.
Southside Tucson: Several days BEFORE the state
legislature passes SB 1070, a massive raid
involving 800 military-clad U.S. federal agents
swoops into this primarily Mexican-Indigenous
community, occupying and terrorizing its
residents, all for the purpose of arresting 48
suspects in a human smuggling operation.
Maricopa County: While Sheriff Joe Arpaio denies
a racial motivation, over the weekend, he
showcases his 15th major crime sweep since
early 2008 in Phoenix. The sweeps which target
Mexican-Indigenous communities may have
actually backfired. They provide a glimpse to the
world as to how the entire state and nation could
look like if SB 1070 is affirmed. To conduct
these sweeps, Arpaio utilizes the states anti
human smuggling law, accusing migrants of being
accomplices in their own smuggling. Such a use of
the law smacks of official kidnapping and terror.
While there were undoubtedly many Arpaios in
South Africa during the apartheid era, there were
no Operation Streamlines there. Kangaroo courts
yes, but not daily one-hour mass-show trials.
The Arizona/Mexico border: In the realm of
violence, Arizona is no South Africa, but we do
have our own killing fields. For the past dozen
years, some 5,000 migrants have been found dead
in the inhospitable desert; medical reports
confirm that many have died due to violence,
including blunt trauma to the head (go to:
That many thousands of migrants are funneled
through the desert annually has long been
official policy by U.S. immigration officials.
Under international law, at best, this could be
construed as negligent homicide.
Washington D.C.: Ironically, in response to these
draconian laws and measures, even Democrats have
been cowed into pushing for more apartheid
measures (walls, more agents and the further
militarization of the border) as a solution.
Just solutions for the problems listed here
require calling for [international] agreements
that place human beings at the center, without
losing their citizenship, culture, rights or their humanity.
Roberto Rodriguez, an assistant professor at the
University of Arizona, can be reached at
<mailto:XColumn at gmail.com>XColumn at gmail.com
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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