WWMLKD1?: Racism in the Grand Canyon State: Latinos Have No History in Arizona Schools
It's all too appropriate that on the day that we celebrate the birthday of one of history’s most notable civil rights leaders, Arizona is in the national news spotlight. Arizona,one of the last states to recognize Martin Luther King Jr's birthday as a federal holiday only began doing in 1992. Ironically, Arizona’s Attorney General Tom Horne, a supporter of the state's tough new immigration laws, and author of a new ban on ethnic studies in the state’s public schools, continually cites his participation in MLK's marches as proof that he's not a racist.
Today , my anger over his actions, a "killing rage" that makes my heart pound, has burned itself out. Instead, a steady determination sets in as I reflect on my disappointment over Arizona's new legislation. I realize that much of my anger, though directed at Tom Horne, comes from an awareness that though he may be extreme, he's also an embodiment of most of white America, a testament to the painfully shallow understanding that most folks have about race in this country.
It actually reminds me of the beginning of medical school. In addition to adjusting to new academic demands, the first fews months are a whirlwind recruiting process for the numerous clubs on campus. Of the professional organizations, one can join the American Medical Association, the American Medical Student Association, the Black Medical Association, the American Medical Women's Association, the Latin American/Native American Medical Association, the United Asian American Medical Student Association, and the Bisexuals, Gays, Lesbians, and Allies in Medicine. Every year a white guy who thinks he's pretty clever will ask, "What about me? How come there's nothing for white guys to join?" There is one and he's already joined it. It's called the institution of medicine.
I shudder to think about the number of white folks in this country who are like that. They know that groups for minorities exist and that it would be politically incorrect to question them, but they're not really sure why. And deep down inside, though they may never say it out loud, they do think it's wrong when a minority applicant is given a position "over an equally qualified white applicant." It's "reverse racism" - the battle cry of white folks with only a superficial understanding of race and no concept of privilege.