May 5, 2010

the wizard of AZ

I'm back from a trip to Arizona, from what feels now like a very distant place. There were a lot of very interesting parts to my trip. Not only was I able to spend some much needed quality time with my grandparents, we hiked in the Grand Canyon; we hiked to the Devil's Bridge; we ate at an authentic Southern grill, a Nepalese restaurant, and did our grocery shopping at place called Superstition Market. I suppose that's another thing I love about the southern states. So many landmarks and regions have wonderfully suggestive, eerily spiritual names.

The cacti were perhaps my favourite feature of what is very different climate.The weather was characteristically hot and dry, so it's taken me some time to adjust to the cold, wet discomfort of Winnipeg. It also happened that the political climate was quite heated (Winnipeg's on the other hand...?), especially regarding the state's decision to bypass the federal government's jurisdiction and clamp down on illegal immigrants.

If this is news to you, the story is certainly worth checking out because it brings up all kinds of disparities and disagreements between right and left, rich and poor. It also links quite nicely to my last couple of posts on colonialism. Each morning of my vacation began with the newspaper; each day began with a related story on the front page, featuring protesters and particular celebrities speaking out against the bill.

And there I was, right in the heart of this debate: comfortably situated in a gated community called Sunland Village where the only Mexican people you'll see are probably groundskeepers or delivery men. As an outsider, it became quite clear that I was in an environment of power, among a large population of people who support a bill that "requires local and state law enforcement to question people about their immigration status if there's reason to suspect they're in the country without proper documentation, and makes it a state crime to be in the United States illegally." It made me wonder about how our decisions and opinions are tied to our cultural position, how as a white middle-class male I am always speaking from a position of power. Something we'd all do well to consider, I think.

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