Dressed for America
By Diane Harriford and Becky Thompson
During this inopportune time of Tea Parties and hot potatoes, we guess it is no surprise that Jan Brewer the Republican governor of Arizona—who just signed a truly horrifying bill on April 23 making it a crime to be undocumented in her fair state—is running for reelection.
Brewer, who became interim governor by default (when Janet Napolitano resigned to become US State Secretary of Homeland Security) is clearly dialing around for an American Idol vote to remain on as governor while riding the Tea Party waves, while failing to include on her campaign literature her own genealogy—her English grandmother Sarah Jane Marble who came to New York in 1886. Marble along with other European immigrants became ”documented” if they were healthy the day they arrived.
Meanwhile, as Jan Brewer, Sarah Palin and other conservative women are buying out Talbot’s latest white-on-white- draped –with- pearls suits, we witness women whose ancestors have been in America far longer than Brewer’s. They are draping themselves with American flags—this last decade’s attire of choice for Black, Latina, Native American and Hispanic women who know, in their bones, that this is their land, even as they are being labeled “internally displaced” or “illegal.”
Recall, for example, the elderly woman in the Superdome in New Orleans who, for days following the hurricane sat on a cot wrapped in an American flag, waiting with strangers to see if she would be allowed a right of return. Recall now, Aurrela Saenz, an elderly woman who has been in the US for 25 years, among the thousands who protested the draconian law over the weekend in Phoenix.
Riding in a wheelchair, holding onto her cane with one hand, and reaching up to express her outrage with the other, Aurrela Saenz wrapped herself in a beach towel size American flag.
This law SB 1070, which, unless stopped, will go into effect at the end of July or early August, allows police to question anyone they suspect may be undocumented about their immigrant status. This legitimizes racial profiling since only certain brown-skinned people look like immigrants in Arizona.
With this latest juxtaposition—pearl suits vs. American flags—it is important to note that Aurrela Saenz is, in fact, the one protecting American ideals as Brewer appears to be doggedly anxious to trample on the Constitution.