Fed. judge blocks part of AZ immigration bill, claims encroachment on fed. laws, “extraordinary” burden on immigrants

Via the NY Times:

In a ruling on a law that has rocked politics coast to coast and thrown a spotlight on the border state’s fierce debate over immigration, United States District Court Judge Susan Bolton in Phoenix said some aspects of the law can go into effect as scheduled on Thursday. But Judge Bolton took aim at the parts of the law that have generated the most controversy, issuing a preliminary injunction against sections that called for officers to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws and that required immigrants to carry their papers at all times. Judge Bolton put those sections on hold while she continues to hear the larger issues in the challenges to the law. “Preserving the status quo through a preliminary injunction is less harmful than allowing state laws that are likely preempted by federal law to be enforced,” she said. “There is a substantial likelihood that officers will wrongfully arrest legal resident aliens,” she wrote. “By enforcing this statute, Arizona would impose a ‘distinct, unusual and extraordinary’ burden on legal resident aliens that only the federal government has the authority to impose.”

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Canaries

Ignoring for the distasteful way he framed his essay under a title alluding to Malcolm X’s comments on John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Tim Wise makes some plausible points about race and the economic crisis worthy of consideration. I’m not prepared to endorse other aspects of his analysis, but the “canary” section is, I think, insightful:

Most have probably heard of the way that canaries were once used by miners to check coal shafts for methane gas and carbon monoxide. These potentially deadly emissions being more immediately toxic to birds than people, the miners knew that if they released canaries in the mine and the canaries died, they too would be in danger before long. Over the years, the metaphor of the “miner’s canary” has been deployed by scholars who focus on the issue of race, such as Lani Gunier and Gerald Torres, whose 2002 book by that title explored the way that racial inequity has long served as a bellwether for coming social problems that would affect far more than just people of color.

Much as Guinier and Torres noted then, I would point out now, that in the midst of the faltering national economy we should understand how our inattention over the years to the warning signs of coming crisis explain much about how and why things got to be this bad. And those warning signs were ignored in large measure because they seemed not to impact white Americans, especially middle class and above whites. Because the pain was localized in low income and people of color communities, folks like Jeremy could choose to ignore it, not necessarily because they were insensitive or uncaring, let alone racist in the overt sense; but rather, because the immediate consequences weren’t evident to them, and so paying little attention was easy to do.

For instance, consider the current housing meltdown. Although the crisis is now being felt nationwide, in communities that are urban, suburban and rural, and by people across the color spectrum, things weren’t always that way. Nearly fifteen years ago, Michael Hudson detailed in his groundbreaking book, Merchants of Misery, the way that poor folks–disproportionately of color–were being gouged by high interest lenders on the secondary mortgage market, thanks to discriminatory lending practices. Likewise, community-based groups in places like North Carolina were taking on predatory lenders in the late 90s and early 2000s, like Citi, which was caught charging black families hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional mortgage payments over the life of their loans, by steering them into loan instruments that were more costly than necessary, even when those families could have qualified for lower interest rates.

Yet consistently, when activists would raise these issues, decry the racial and class unfairness inherent to these practices and call for regulations, most of the media, the public and lawmakers routinely ignored them. No national politicians campaigned on platforms to crack down on such policies, to strengthen fair lending laws, or to reign in the interest that lenders could charge. The market, they would insist, was sufficient to regulate these matters.

Of course, once it became apparent that lenders were not going to be heavily scrutinized or regulated when it came to these activities, high-cost mortgage instruments became even more prevalent, and began to spread, from the communities of color and poor communities where they had begun, to solidly middle class and largely white spaces too. Independent mortgage brokers, which are not regulated the way banks are, began to offer loans to consumers based on little if any paperwork to demonstrate the payments could be made. These lenders had little incentive to control such activity, since they were going to sell the loans in bundles to wealthy investors anyway. By the time families were in default and being foreclosed on, the brokers would have made their money and moved on. As a result of the spread of high-cost mortgages, folks in solid middle class counties like Suffolk and Nassau, on Long Island, are now facing higher foreclosure rates than residents in Brooklyn or Queens.

So in a very real sense, white ambivalence to the suffering of black and brown folks opened the floodgates to even more risky economic activity, and this time, in far whiter communities as well. Had racial inequity and injustice been seen as a problem early on, perhaps the market for such predatory loans would have been shut down or at least heavily regulated, thereby staving off crisis. Clearly, the millions of white folks who got roped into these instruments by lenders promising that everything would be alright are suffering today, precisely because the pain was not taken seriously when it belonged to someone else.

What’s the matter with Arizona?

Via Arizona Central:

A group of artists has been asked to lighten the faces of children depicted in a giant public mural at a Prescott school. The project’s leader says he was ordered to lighten the skin tone after complaints about the children’s ethnicity. But the school’s principal says the request was only to fix shading and had nothing to do with political pressure.

The “Go on Green” mural, which covers two walls outside Miller Valley Elementary School, was designed to advertise a campaign for environmentally friendly transportation. It features portraits of four children, with a Hispanic boy as the dominant figure.

R.E. Wall, director of Prescott’s Downtown Mural Project, said he and other artists were subjected to slurs from motorists as they worked on the painting at one of the town’s most prominent intersections. “We consistently, for two months, had people shouting racial slander from their cars,” Wall said. “We had children painting with us, and here come these yells of (epithet for Blacks) and (epithet for Hispanics).”

City Councilman Steve Blair spearheaded a public campaign on his talk show at Prescott radio station KYCA-AM (1490) to remove the mural.

In a broadcast last month, according to the Daily Courier in Prescott, Blair mistakenly complained that the most prominent child in the painting is African-American, saying: “To depict the biggest picture on the building as a Black person, I would have to ask the question: Why?”

Blair could not be reached for comment Thursday. In audio archives of his radio show, Blair discusses the mural. He insists the controversy isn’t about racism but says the mural is intended to create racial controversy where none existed before.

“Personally, I think it’s pathetic,” he says. “You have changed the ambience of that building to excite some kind of diversity power struggle that doesn’t exist in Prescott, Arizona. And I’m ashamed of that.”

Faces in the mural were drawn from photographs of children enrolled at Miller Valley, a K-5 school with 380 students and the highest ethnic mix of any school in Prescott.

Why is there a black kid displayed prominently? Why not? Honestly, why would anyone care?

But lets get into concrete reasons. If the mural depicts the most integrated school in the city, having a minority student would actually render the painting more accurately representative of its makeup than an all-white selection of students.

There’s a “green” component to the piece, but there’s no discussion of a politicized race statement in the painting. No discussion not started by Blair, that is. Besides broaching the issue, Blair read stereotypes into the painting where they didn’t exist–he claimed the black child carries a stick, a possible weapon. But, as readers can see above, the kid’s hands aren’t even visible, and there is no stick anywhere in his vicinity.

But, to be fair, Blair isn’t the only one to read politicized race into the mural. There were people shouting “nigger” and “spic” at artists for months on end. (Aside: Am I wrong to be bothered that a newspaper for grown-ups refuses to print full quotes with tabboo language, even in contexts in which they are cited with clear and unambiguous disapproval?) Those predjudices obviously existed before the mural, so no “racial controversy” is starting “where there was none before.” That “racial controversy” is one the people of color of Arizona live through daily, apparently. 

If this culture is not atypical in Arizona, it becomes even harder to believe Arizona Senate Bill 1070 is anything but exactly what it looks like.

Blair was fired for his race-baiting by the private local radio company that employed him, and he might lose his council seat. But Arizona will remain a scary place.

“Bluish Face”

 

In honor of Avatar’s DVD release, via my dear friend Lori (sung to the tune of Stefani Germanotta’s [aka Lady Gaga’s] “Poker Face“):

BLUISH FACE

Nu-nu-nu-nah

Nu-nu-nu-nah

Nu-nu-nu-nah

Nu-nu-no-Oscar
First Verse: Colonel Quaritch:
I wanna kill em like they do in Iraq please
Kill off all the natives drawn quite racistly.
We’re all set to wipe them out starting with the big tree
‘cept for that traitor Sully, he’s off screwing Neytiri.

Viewer(s):
woah oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Film’s in 3d
but still sucks to me
woah oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Film’s in 3d, but still sucks to me

All:
Look at my, look at my
bluish face
(why are they blue a-anywa-ay?)
Look at my, look at my,
look at my, look at my,
avatar’s bluish face
(why are they blue a-anywa-ay?)

Blue blue blue bluish face
Blue blue bluish face
(Ah-ah-va-tar)
Blue blue blue bluish face
Blue blue bluish face
(Ah-ah-va-tar)

Jake:
Don’t wanna roll in this here chair can’t you see
Hollywood thinks that this is not how it’s supposed to be.
Life just can’t have meaning with a disability
So my avatar’s got legs, thank god for CG.

Viewer(s):
woah oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Film’s in 3d
but still sucks to me
woah oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Film’s in 3d, but still sucks to me

All:
Look at my, look at my
avatar’s bluish face
(why are they blue a-anywa-ay?)
Look at my, look at my,
look at my, look at my,
bluish face
(why are they blue a-anywa-ay?)

Blue blue blue bluish face
Blue blue bluish face
(Ah-ah-va-tar)
Blue blue blue bluish face
Blue blue bluish face
(Ah-ah-va-tar)

Neytiri:
I’m not placental nor mammal
So these titties
How’d I get these?

Viewer(s):
Cameron want’d them cuz he’s dirty with his old man flirtin
Just like Fern Gully, Pocahontas
Dances with Wolves, why all the big fuss?
I think that I’ve seen this, I’ve seen this
Paid ten bucks just to see this piss

All (x 3)
Look at my, look at my
Bluish face
(Nu-nu-no-Oscar)
Look at my, look at my,
look at my, look at my,
avatar’s bluish face
(Nu-nu-no-Oscar)

Did Colbert cross a line?

He’s commemorating Black History Month by celebrating all things Dutch–Heineken, pickled herring, clogs–for this reason:

Without the help of Dutch merchant ships, there wouldn’t even be African Americans. They’d still be just Africans.

He is joking, of course, about the Middle Passage. Most of his audience laughed, but some made “He Did Not Just Go There” exasperated gasps.

Did Colbert cross a line?

In memorium

How do I loath thee? Let me count the ways…

Let’s count the offensive things this ad portrays and promotes. I’ll go first.

1.) White skin is beautiful. If you don’t have it no man will ever love you.

Now it’s your turn!