Arizona’s new immigration law will give birth to a new form of racial profiling in the eyes of Chuck D.
The Public Enemy frontman addresses the controversial law and what he views as “the growing tangible and intangible wall existing between the black and brown people in North America” in his new song “Tear Down That Wall.”
A statement released by Chuck D and his wife, Dr. Gaye Theresa Johnson, leaves no mystery as to how they feel about Arizona governor Jan Brewer signing the legislation into law last week as well as those who have not voiced their opinion on the issue.
Under the new law, Arizona police are required to question people if they have reason to believe they may be in the United States illegally.
CNN reports the legislation also targets those who hire illegal immigrant laborers or knowingly transport them as well as requires immigrants to carry their alien registration documents at all times.
At this time, officers can check someone's immigration status only if that person is suspected in another crime.
“Jan Brewer's decision to sign the Arizona immigration bill into law is racist, deceitful, and reflects some of the most mean-spirited politics against immigrants that the country has ever seen,” the couple said.
“The power that this law gives to police, to detain people that they suspect to be undocumented, brings racial profiling to a new low.
“Brewer's actions and those of [Maricopa County, AZ sheriff] Joe Arpaio, [Senator]Russell Pearce, the Arizona State Senate are despicable, inexcusable, and endorse the all-out hate campaign that Joe Arpaio, Russell Pearce, and others have perpetrated upon immigrants for years,” Chuck D and Johnson added. “The people of Arizona, who voted for this bill, as well as those who crafted it, demonstrate no regard for the humanity or contributions of Latino people. And for all of those who have chosen not to speak up, shame on you for silently endorsing this legislated hate.”
Chuck D’s “Tear Down That Wall” may be a new offering, but the title of the tune carries historical significance as it stirs up memories of former President Ronald Reagan’s criticism of communist countries regarding the existence of the Berlin Wall, a prominent symbol of communism.
The former actor’s difference of opinion culminated in his famous speech commemorating the 750th anniversary of Berlin on June 12, 1987 in Berlin.
Reagan challenged the -then General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the wall in an effort to usher in more democracy and free speech.
Years later, the desire for freedom would manifest in Public Enemy. The collective, who is known for its politically charged music, generated headlines in the early ‘90s with the song “By the Time I Get to Arizona.”
The tune and its video are noted for addressing the controversy surrounding then Arizona governor Evan Meacham’s refusal to recognize Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday as a national holiday.
Although the song’s content reflected a different subject, Chuck D believes no change exists in regards to resolving the issues of the past.
“In 1991 I wrote a song criticizing Arizona officials (including John McCain and Fife Symington) for rejecting the federal holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The same politics I wrote about in "By the Time I Get to Arizona" are alive and well in Arizona today, but this time the target is Brown people,” the rapper stated.
Chuck D may have a point. In recent years, the challenge for those trying to get in to the U.S. has been met with fatal results.
Since 1994, the struggle for Mexican migrants trying to reach the United States has resulted in more than 5,000 deaths.
According to Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission, an average three migrants lost their lives every two days in the US-Mexico border region in 2007 and 2008.
With the new law scheduled to take effect 90 days after the close of Arizona’s legislative session, Chuck D believes the time is now to join critics who feel the immigration law will cause businesses, tourists and various conventions to find another location to serve them as well as increase racial profiling.
Supporters argue the law is needed to curb illegal immigration.
“These actions must stop. I am issuing a call to action, urging my fellow musicians, artists, athletes, performers, and production companies to refuse to work in Arizona until officials not only overturn this bill, but recognize the human rights of immigrants,” Chuck D expressed. “This should include the NBA playoffs, revisiting the actions of the NFL in 1993, when they moved the Super Bowl to Pasadena in protest against Arizona's refusal to recognize Dr. King. We all need to speak up in defense of our brothers and sisters being victimized in Arizona, because things are only getting worse. What they’re doing to immigrants is appalling, but it will be even more damning if we remain silent.'”
By Chris Richburg