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The Hispanic Codes

Well, well, well. I hate to say it but just because you picked the apples doesn’t mean you can have a piece of the pie. And if this month’s Census form was any indication, Senate Bill 1070 (aka SB 1070) from Arizona was no surprise. Long before the introduction and subsequent signing of SB 1070, the uncontrollable Hispanic population of America has been a growing concern. Pun intended. Despite anti-immigrant sentiment in Arizona, which was recently exacerbated by the death of a prominent white ranger at the hands of a human smuggler (alleged), the recession has long intensified the fight for limited resources. Inevitably, the debate centers around the foreign worker, the telemarketer in India, the affirmative action student, and any other group believed to be benefiting unfairly. Oddly enough, it is much of the anti-black sentiment across the world which allows other racial minorities to benefit, until finally, the racism pendulum swings back. And oh, it will swing back. Trail of Tears. Japanese internment camps. Terrorist profiling. See the Racial Contract.

It is perhaps the same anti-black sentiment that disallows proper acknowledgment of the racial history of America until yet another group falls victim to the ways of this nation. And even then there is an aura of surprise–”we don’t cause trouble, we don’t bother nobody” (thanks Slick), as if blacks met some prerequisites for prejudice. Unlike the rest of us, illegal immigrants are actually here to work. Of course, I think SB 1070 is racist, but I’m not outraged and shocked by its passage. If anything, I’m disappointed that the language used in support of illegal immigration often disparages other racial minorities by indirectly calling into question their contribution as citizens. With that said, SB 1070 looks eerily similar to the Black Codes of the 1860s which mandated blacks (bka Negroes) to produce papers upon request to support their presence in certain states. “Whenever required of [Negroes] they must present licenses…citing their place of residence…” As detailed in the video, Indiana and Illinois actually went as far as to outlaw black immigration. Likewise, SB 1070 states that “where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person.”


The Black Codes were simply put a way to “limit the size of the free black population,” “restrict rights and movement,” and restrict competition. With that said, there is very little doubt the passage of SB 1070 is meant to do just the same. The passage of various laws in post-slavery America created an atmosphere akin to slavery and sought to police newly freed bodies by regulating the physical location of blacks. Senate Bill 1070 not only does the exact thing but is buttressed by the categorization of Hispanics on this year’s Census form. Racial-profiling? Hardly. As of two weeks ago, “Hispanic” isn’t even a race.


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