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Reasonably suspected to be white

April 16, 2010

News flash: If a new proposed law passes, police may detain people they reasonably suspect are white to check their legal status to find out if they really are American citizens. If they stop you (in the grocery store, after church, with your kids, driving down the  street, walking your dog) and you can produce papers that certify you are allowed to be in this country, everything will be fine. If not, then you will be arrested. Details on how police will determine what constitutes “reasonable suspicion” have not yet been defined. White people are anxious about what this profiling will mean to their everyday lives and nervous about being around the police.

Sound absurd? Not if you are a person of color living in Arizona. Here’s the real news flash: A newly proposed law allowing police to stop any person reasonably suspected to be an undocumented immigrant has been approved by Arizona’s House of Representatives and is headed to the Senate and governor with expected passage. Arizona Endorses Immigration Curbs So, contrary to the imagined “news flash” at the beginning of this post, if you look white, you will likely be ignored.  If you don’t look white, expect to be stopped anytime a police officer reasonably suspects you could possibly be an “illegal” immigrant.

I reasonably suspect that most of the police officers will be white. I reasonably suspect that people with any visible trace of Mexican descent, no matter how long they and their family have been American citizens, will face being interrogated at any possible moment.

Only whites could get away with using a phrase like reasonably suspect to have this kind of power over peoples’ lives.  The power and privilege of being white means you can make the rules, control the language, and abuse the power.  We who are white, and descended from immigrants, should be ashamed.

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