You’ve got to hand it to the white supremacists running Arizona. As May 1 demonstrations are upon us coast to coast, with immigrants’ rights as a central demand, they’ve provided a crystal-clear example of what we are up against. They are also showing just why May Day, the international working class holiday, has taken on new layers of meaning here and deepened its roots in sections of the US working class since El Levantamiento, the huge immigrant uprising of 2006.
The issue is, of course, the new mandatory racial profiling bill just passed by both houses of the legislature and signed by Governor Jan Brewer. It will likely be declared unconstitutional by the courts, but is meanwhile serving to promote anti-immigrant sentiment and police state practices in Arizona and elsewhere.
While there has been heartening coverage of high school walk-outs and other protest inside Arizona itself, there are other aspects to the resistance which merit some attention. Thus, the first–hand report and the hip hop video I am posting here.
I asked a long-time ‘rade of mine, Ajagbe Adewole, a Brooklyn boy who has been working as an educator in the Phoenix suburbs for the last several years (poor fish) what he’s been seeing and hearing. His comments, slightly edited, follow:
The general mood out here is outrage. Those supporting the bill are silent. You just don't hear folks defend this in public. Even local rightwing radio is questioning the bill, an unheard-of development.
The Dems are split along political/ethnic lines. Some are calling for military at the border ("If we could stop them at the border that would solve the problem"), others, like Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva, are calling for a boycott of their own state and repeal of the law.
The anger among Chicana/os is palpable. This issue has really woken people up. I've never seen these folks react this way. This was a REALLY stupid move on the part of the Republicans. It has the potential to mobilize folks for May 1, and for the upcoming elections, including young Chicana/os.
Chicana/os out here are organizationally weak. Remember, this is a “right to work” state, so unions are not really a factor. I'm curious to see how the community is going to organize, but I don't see this issue going away. Folks I know, generally apolitical, are discussing and debating this. There's a lot of passion.
Now here’s another cut on things in AZ. Let’s start with Black rapper, Swindoe. A couple of years back he released a new cut called “Phony People” with a dramatic video. Based in his native Arizona, it features Swindoe and his posse helping undocumented immigrants deal with the deadly desert and the Border Patrol and it's moving as hell...
Okay, his persona is straight-up gangsta, his syzzurp-flavored, chopped and screwed chorus is druggy by definition, and he thinks rather highly of himself. Get past it, people. His production company is called BLK Boyz, standing for Black-Latino Konnection. The whole package is, to my way of thinking, a real-world example of the kind of Black/Brown alliance that revolutionary-minded folks have been advocating for years as the answer to ruling class efforts to pit the Black Nation and immigrants against each other.
And so is this comment, which is from the interesting and contentious Youtube comment thread when Swindoe’s “Phony People” video was retitled to mention SB 1070 ,the Arizona police state law:
i think its funny how yall argue over youtube.. lol Flash Virus is a fuckin dumbass.. I'm from eastside tuc town an we down wit grips_ of latinos. All me an my niggas date are latina girls.. it aint shit to us! we speak spanish! a REAL tuc town nigga who whats good wit tha 520 and tha black/latino connection.. if he wanna start shit, let him. cuz he'z dumb. bring his ass to irvington n park an let dem niggas get at him.. bet he wont eva diss a latino eva again!! HahaLet’s see what the May Day marches this Saturday and the coming months bring. All this makes me optimistic.
And in that spirit, I think I’ll close with Tom Russell’s magnificent tune, “Who’s Gonna Build Your Wall?” which raises the musical question:
Now the government wants to build a barrier
Like ol' Berlin, 8 feet tall,
But if Uncle Sam sends the illegals home,
Who's gonna build the wall?
Who's gonna build your wall, boys,
Who's gonna mow your lawn,
Who's gonna cook your Mexican food
When your Mexican maid is gone,
Who's gonna wax the floors tonight
Down at the local mall,
Who's gonna wash your baby's face,
Who's gonna build your wall?