Li: ritual, propriety, etiquette. Hsiao: love within the family (parents for children and children for parents. Yi: righteousness--the noblest way to act in a situation. Xin: honesty and trustworthiness. Jen: benevolence, humaneness towards others. Chung: loyalty to the state and authority. --Confucius (Kong Fuzi)

All articles appear in reverse chronological order [newest first].

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I believe the past is relevant, sometimes more than others of course. In most cases we are seeing history being repeated, so it is most relevant.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Profiling Is Not A Benign Event:

by Glenn Littrell

From A discussion On FaceBook

Kelly posted on her wall:

I'm baffled & need to vent. Of course we need immigration reform, but why do so many people support Arizona's new law? It legalizes racial profiling! Do people not understand that or do they just not care? I got home from AZ just before this law passed. I could have very well been a victim of such racial profiling as I have been mistaken many times as being Hispanic - even by those who are! Ok. I'm done
A posted comment:
"Have you really READ it? Mexico has harsher laws than us. Why should we allow illegals to continue to live off of us?"
In response to this comment Kelly said:
"Sure did. For anyone else who wants to read it:
We need to harshly punish those greedy American employers that exploit them - not those trying to survive and put food on the table. Not someone that might…. look like they are illegal. What does an illegal immigrant look like? There's no excuse for racial profiling and it should never be okay for someone to be questioned by police because that officer thought they looked illegal. There's nothing that makes it okay.
California and the southwest were built in large part by undocumented Mexican immigrants. Of course back then I guess Americans didn't mind letting them to cross back and forth over the border as long as they gave us cheap labor?
From the Dept. of Homeland Security: Around 75% of today's immigrants have legal permanent (immigrant) visas; of the 25% that are undocumented, 40% overstayed temporary (non-immigrant) visas. Undocumented immigrants estimated to be less than 2% of the US population.
We close factories here and ship American jobs overseas to Mexico (Wal-Mart is great at forcing suppliers to move factories/jobs overseas). We then pay Mexicans subpar wages. Their country does not have the same safety & environmental standards as the U.S. so they are forced to work in unsafe and unhealthy conditions on a wage that they can't live on in their own country. So they do what our ancestors did - come to America looking for an opportunity. An opportunity to survive.
We contribute to their problems in their own country, make it more difficult for them to come here legally, yet illegally pay them under the table to do hard work for low wages, and then criminalize them for doing what we made possible? And in the process stereotype them and anyone that looks like they might 'fit the profile'?
I see a lot of people joining the FaceBook group "If you hurt my daughter I'll make your death look like an accident" and other similar groups. I hear statements from parents like that all the time. I thought that meant parents would do what they had to in order to keep their families alive and safe? Parent or not - I think a lot of us might think differently if roles were reversed...if we had to choose between barely surviving at home or trying to make a better life for ourselves elsewhere. It's easy to say "I would still follow the law" when we sit in cozy houses, eat 3 meals a day, take our vacations and enjoy the 'better life'.
Yes, there is a problem with the way things are currently. Yes, immigration reform is needed. Yes, illegal immigration needs to end. But racial profiling does not solve the problem, but rather feeds hatred and creates new problems. I may have gotten out of Arizona before they legalized racial profiling, but I still might just get the chance to be victimized since an Indiana senator thinks we need such laws here.
Who are the victims? American and Immigrant workers. Who profits and created this system/problem - American corporations. We are attacking the wrong group."

I added:

"...villianizing hard working people for trying to support their family is just so un-Christian and un-American, especially when this law does more to promote profiling and animosity than it does to stop illegal immigration.
You stop illegal immigration at the border first and then you do something to break the cycle of exporting American jobs to third world nations and enticing illegal immigrants to come north for under the table wages. Focusing enforcement on the immigrants while ignoring the over-riding factors is like prosecuting the drug user but ignoring the drug pushers and suppliers. In this case the drug pusher and supplier being corporations, business men and individuals who exploit the immigrant [legal and illegal] to save a buck and avoid paying decent wages to American workers.
Ever notice how we don't have a major illegal immigration problem with our neighbors to the north? That's because when they come here looking for jobs they expect to make the same wages as us. They also aren't tempted to come here illegally because their wages, benefits, environmental laws, and safety regulations at home are similar to ours. Unlike in Mexico and other third world economies. Yet in most of our treaties with these countries they are supposed to establish such standards and enforce them, but American and Global corporations ship their manufacturing operations there specifically because we don't enforce those treaties."

Kelly added, in response to another comment:

I would have to add though, because I wasn't in AZ for pleasure the mental, emotional and physical state I was in (so stressed, disheveled, red teary eyes from constant crying - and I'll admit no shower or change of clothes for a couple of days) could have made me an easier target for 'suspicion'. If stopped I might have lashed out in anger or even just broken down in tears unable to speak clearly if at all. They would have made things worse. But it's the mere fact of being stopped and suspected that begins the victimization - just because you are let go doesn't take that sting away.
I remember vividly an incident as a child that still bothers me to this day. My dad and I were walking around downtown at some festival together. We were laughing and joking and having a good time. But the police stopped us because they wanted to make sure I was supposed to be with him. Why? Obviously because he's Caucasian and I'm not. Sure they asked me if I knew him and they took my word for it and let us go.....but it still hurt and I still remember it. The mere difference in the color of our skin was enough in their minds to stop us. Never mind the happy mood we were in. I wasn't crying, scared or sending out vibes for help. If I were Caucasian would they have stopped us - absolutely not. It's no different than the watchful eyes that are on me when I sometimes go into stores that don't get many 'minorities'. I actually experienced that in AZ (and that was when I was leaving and was more put together). It is sad that once I speak and/or pull out the wallet that seems to fade.
My frustration of course comes from the fact that the real root cause of the problems aren't addressed. That all the major players aren't held accountable. Why? Because for corporate America the current situation is ideal for them - they created it. So the 'answer' is to give the American workers a little something to make them feel better and think we are being looked out for. Give them a little cookie to hold them over. While we dodge the real problems and solutions that could really benefit the actual victims - those same American workers AND the immigrants workers."
"A new class we should all have to take in school "Walk a day in someone less fortunate shoes - a lesson in compassion and gratitude". It could take the place of Gym. :)"

In response to another comment pointing out that because Kelly spoke perfect English, if stopped, she would have immediately been allowed to proceed I wrote:

"If Kelly had been profiled and stopped in AZ and had broken down and lashed out at the police officer I don't believe that her speaking fluent English would have guaranteed anything. Having been to several South American countries and Caribbean islands there is no shortage of English speaking inhabitants. The whole argument about 'speak English' is part of the stereotype that makes profiling guesswork. Kelly's grandmother is German and has lived in America for over 40 years and spoke English when she came here, but many people still have trouble understanding her. [Did you know that along with this law in AZ the state has decreed that Spanish/English teachers with a heavy accent are being targeted for removal as teachers even though the main reason they were hired was because there was a shortage of non-Hispanic teachers who could speak Spanish?]
The people who wrote this law defend the profiling language as not really profiling and says that it doesn't allow profiling. If you take out the profiling aspect just what does the law do? By there own explanation its a tough law that does nothing? It certainly does nothing to address the problem of illegal immigration. The law at the very least encourages and allows racial profiling and at the most, and this is the most important, it institutionalizes racial profiling.
Most police departments are reluctant to get involved in immigration enforcement because it eats up the time, resources and budgets and takes them away from actually fighting crime and enforcing the law. Most police experts denounce racial profiling as less than a science because it is ineffective and tends to discourage effective police work. And last but not least it causes problems.
What if on that day Kelly and I were downtown I had become irate or upset with the police? They said they had received a call and had to investigate and I gave them the benefit of the doubt and cooperated. I figured some resentful person probably did make the call and the demeanor of the officers was such that as long as Kelly was in site I felt the best thing to do was cooperate. I didn't like it at all though. But what if I wasn't in such a good mood, what if Kelly wasn't having fun but was hot, tired and irritable? What if the officers were two butt heads with an attitude and yes there are cops who range from being unpleasant to downright arrogant and short fused. Theimage problem with profiling and random stops is that many of the arrest and conflicts that arise are not related to the original intent of the stop, it is the stop itself or a secondary, resulting, event that leads to arrest or conflict. Kelly was tearing up during the encounter but if her crying had gotten worse, if they had put her in the squad car or tried to remove her from my site would I have just stood there? If any of those things happened I would probably ended up in handcuffs and an upsetting incident would have ended up a traumatic incident. Even though charges MIGHT have been dropped I would have been arrested on a charge unrelated to the stop. In the absence of any suspicious behavior, a father or daughter downtown having fun on a sunny day is not suspicious, we were stopped because of our 'racial' relationship and a great day was tarnished. Racial profiling is not a benign event. It creates and fosters animosity, conflict and tensions between the police, the profiled community and the community as a whole. The racial profiling of suspected illegals will result in more legal immigrants and born Americans being targeted than it will in apprehension of illegals." 

Kelly McKinney & Glenn Littrell

Even law enforcement officials in Arizona are speaking out against SB 1070, also known as the “papers please” law.     from AP

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Additional Notes:

Our Immigration Problem

Profiling Is Not A Benign Event

I'm A Legal Citizen

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