A Smile That Hopefully Some Day Will be for Everyone – An Ode to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer

by on February 13, 2012 · 14 comments

in Civil Rights, From the Soul, Popular

Oh, Governor Brewer, I look at a photo of you flashing such a sunny smile and I can’t help but think of a song Maya Angelou sings: “When it looked like the sun wouldn’t shine anymore, God Put a rainbow in the clouds.”

With that smile of yours you could surely put a rainbow in a people’s clouds but you’ve chosen instead, to literally, through a hateful bill called SB1070, turn your hounds on them. Your law gives “the law” the right to stop a range of brown folks, Mexican Americans, Chicanos, Mexicanos – on “reasonable suspicion.”

Whoa! “Reasonable suspicion” is a chilling term for some of us. I’m one of the most law abiding people I know and I have been “reasonably suspicious” on a number of occasions. Like I was suspected of being a thief one time based on a “burglar tool” (a screwdriver) being in my car. A house had been robbed in the “vicinity,” an area, in these kinds of situations, equal in size to the continental United States.

I could throw in another “reasonable suspicion” story but I don’t want to scare you because guns were involved, police officers pointing them at my head screaming: “Put your hands on your head and get down on your knees!” I would have been killed if I had as much as sneezed. And they were looking for a Pillsbury Doughboy looking dude about five feet tall. I’m standing six feet five, the color of coffee, no cream. Black people looking alike is one thing but looking like white midgets, too? That’s too much for a brother. Hey, your deputies will be stopping Latinos for listening to corridas. Believe me.

How can one who has such a smile play a role in subjecting human beings to being treated like that? Is that all we, as a society, can offer people as they struggle to survive, some having risked their lives on fiery desert floors and snow ravaged mountain trails to get here?

But getting Latinos on the run was just the beginning of you and your cronies’ fun because no sooner than all the “illegal immigrant” madness was in place, you were cheering yourselves, hailing the ending of Mexican American Studies as a job well done. And like characters in a horror Nazi-like sci-fi Netflix flick you stomped on and now the childrens’ books are gone.

Where have your consciences’ gone? Of your excuses for your actions this one stands out for me, the allegation that Chicano Studies classes promote “ethnic chauvinism.”

For those like me who don’t know what that means wikianswers.com says:

“Ethnic Chauvinism is the excessive love of one’s own race/ethnicity, usually meaning that all other races/ethnicities are looked down upon as inferior.”

Very interesting, Jan. You can see them as inferior but they, the “inferior,” can’t view you as the same? Is that what this is? But let’s be real. No class is going to influence some brown skinned kid who has lived 16 years, say, in the barrio, to look out at people with swimming pools and spectacular cactus gardens, tended in some cases by people who look like him and think “Now, there’s some inferior folks if I’ve ever seen any.” And what if he did think that you were inferior? What’s he going to do? Set the law on you and ban your “Little House” book series?

I know what you’re doing. You don’t want the children to enjoy the power that knowledge gives one; you fear that if they learn about who they are, and how they have gotten to where they are, and what their future can bring knowing such things, they will be as hateful as you have been when they become the majority.

But that’s not and has never been what Ethnic Studies is all about, as the very concept was born out of a spirit of love, with an intent to endow a people with an understanding of their past so they can, with dignity, play a role in building a better world.

Victoria Earle Matthews, in 1895, in a speech about “The Value of Race Literature,” says it this way:

“Race literature does not mean things uttered in praise, thoughtless praise of ourselves, wherein each goose thinks her gosling a swan. We have had too much of this… Race literature does mean, though, the preserving of all records of a Race, and thus cherishing the material, saving from destruction and obliteration what is good, helpful and stimulating. But for our Race Literature, how will future generations know of the pioneers in Literature, our statesmen, soldiers, divines, musicians, artists, lawyers, critics, and scholars?”

Well, governor, we all desire to shine and overtime your transgressions against humanity will be made right. Our stories, no matter who we are, tell us that “We Shall Overcome,” that our truths will set us free.

Hopefully, someday, the beauty of your smile will be for everyone,

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Mick February 13, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Ernie, that bit in there about the Pillsbury doughboy event. . . OK, the EVENT was horrible, but the way you crafted it is absolutely quintessential Ernie every step of the way. I was drinking a soft-drink and snorted it when I read that part. The carbonation burned bad. . .but I couldn’t feel it because I was laughing so hard. You are such an awesome writer. Can’t wait for you to come and read some poetry with my students!


Ernie McCray February 13, 2012 at 5:18 pm

That’s always fun, listening to the words your students weave together so well. I liked the Pillsbury bit myself (smile).


David Beekman February 13, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Powerful stuff Ernie… It’s hard for me to believe Arizona is the state our parents emigrated to with the hope of a new and better life in their hearts… I am almost thankful mine are gone now and spared having to witness the demise of their beloved state…
Dave B.
Spring Valley Ca


Ernie McCray February 13, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Hey, I hear you, amigo. My mother would die again if she saw what Arizona has evolved into. She contributed a lot towards making it a better place.


Sheila Bender February 13, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Ernie, is she reading this? Let’s hope!


Ernie McCray February 13, 2012 at 1:48 pm

I’m sending it to her.


Anna Daniels February 13, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Ernie- I nominate you as our Ambassador to Arizona. Your work is cut out for you, but you are starting from such a beautiful position of good will.


Ernie McCray February 13, 2012 at 7:51 pm

I accept but I don’t work in Arizona between June and October. Been there done that (smile).


Dave Baldwin February 13, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Ernie, I moved from Tucson in 1986 and now live in Oregon, but I have often thought I would like to return to visit the campus of the University as well as see the places I try to remember from my childhood. I had those thoughts, that is, until Arizona degenerated into a state fueled by hatred and fear. I’m certain now I will never go back. I don’t think Gov. Brewer’s smile will ever be for everyone.


Ernie McCray February 14, 2012 at 10:49 am

I think you just might be right about that smile. I just hope that a few people will, if she’s not willing to share it with everyone, wipe it off her face.


Doug Beacom February 13, 2012 at 9:14 pm

excellent, Ernie.
here’s to education with a spirit of love…


Ernie McCray February 13, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Thanks. Cheers.


Linda February 14, 2012 at 6:45 am

Everytime you put “pencil to paper” so to speak, it flows so beautifully. Looking forward to seeing you at Lincoln High School on the 25th.


Ernie McCray February 14, 2012 at 10:50 am

Lincoln High it is.


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