Yesterday, December 1, was the 55th anniversary of the day that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus.
Despite my oldest son’s obsession with her (in part, I think, because he lives in constant hope that he’ll get to ride a bus to school some day, so he gets it that boycotting bus rides is a really, really, really big deal), and the fact that I can never resist that picture, this isn’t a post about Mrs. Parks, or the role that she played in the civil rights movement, or even about that movement itself.
It’s really more of a promise broken, on my part, I guess–a promise, after I read Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s completely spot-on and utterly amazing editorial about Arizona’s racial profiling law (SB1070), that I wouldn’t write a post about it, since that really deserved to be the last word.
But the anti-immigrant atmosphere that has infected our country (and our policies, and our elections) has been foremost on my mind every single day for the past eight months or so. And when I read in The Political Brain about how campaign after campaign shows that racist candidates lose when their opponents shine a light on their racism (but prevail when they’re allowed to fly under the radar), and when I stood in solidarity with young NAACP members at a pro-immigrant protest, and when my 84-year-old grandfather-in-law pointed to a headline about Arizona and said, “they’d probably arrest me down there”…
it just has to be said: The way that we are treating immigrants in this country is wrong.
No surprise to any of you, I know.
But what really made me break my vow of silence on this is perhaps more of a revelation:
it will, I truly and fervently believe, be judged to be wrong, too.
The same way that majority opinion and public law about equality for African Americans is vastly different in the United States today (even though, quite obviously, we’ve yet to reach real racial justice) than when Mrs. Parks sat down so others could rise up, one day people in this country will look back on the actions we’re taking against immigrants today (not just Arizona, but the abuses in detention, the inhumane workplace raids, the long family separations) and think, for shame.
My friend and former Kansas state senator David Adkins said during his passionate defense of gay marriage, “I’m confident I’m standing on the right side of history,” and those of us standing up for immigrant rights today can take the same comfort. Just 6 years after he was excoriated for his courageous position, he’s being proven correct (again, it bears mentioning that the struggle continues), if not yet in our state, then with actions elsewhere in the U.S. and around the world.
I don’t know exactly when, or exactly how, the tide will change. But then, of course, neither did Mrs. Parks.