I was encouraged to read two recent arrests stirred protests over Arizona’s immigration law, glad to know there are civil rights organizations like Corazón de Tucson to rally outside the police department, activists like Alcaraz Ochoa willing to crawl under a Border Patrol vehicle to block them from driving away when the answers they gave him about why they were arresting Rene Meza didn’t satisfy him. It makes me remember I can’t blame all Arizonans for their racist legislation. It reminds me there are people there who didn’t want these laws in place, people who must be as appalled and embarrassed now as I was when our country elected Bush. It makes me remember to have hope.
We were having breakfast together at my favorite place, Palm Greens Cafe, where once when they brought my food I commented about what a glutton I was being, and the kitchen staff serving me smiled an impish smile and said, “Yes, but a gluten-free glutton!” If I hadn’t already been charmed by the place, that alone would have won me over, stolen my word-loving heart. But when Corina told me she was considering Arizona for the next stage of her young wandering life, I think I went into some weird autopilot. I don’t remember half of what I said, only my gluten-free vegan pancakes with blueberries sitting untouched before me during my diatribe and the surprised looks on her parents’ faces across the table. I know I told them I didn’t want to spend one cent in Arizona because of their racist legislation and their lies. (I read one of the reasons they claimed to have crafted the anti-Mexican, anti-immigrant laws was because of increased violence along their southern border. But in truth, violent crime has gone down there in recent years.) I know I told them if I needed to go to New Mexico or Colorado from some reason, I would fill up the gas tank in Blythe and drive straight through their pretty desert state. I know my voice and my words were harsh, maybe shockingly so. I called Corina later to apologize for my vehemence. “I know it’s beautiful,” I said. “I can understand you wanting to go there.” But I’m still praying she’ll pick another spot.