By Katie Fahrenbruch
I am not ashamed of Arizona.
I’m angry and disgusted by Russell Pearce, Sheriff Joe and Jan Brewer (to name a few), I’m filled with rage when I think about SB 1070 and the cowards who supported it, and I’m utterly devastated every time I hear another family has been torn apart—but I’m not ashamed, because this not all that Arizona is.
I am a lifelong resident of this beautiful state. I was born here, I was raised here, and I have become myself here among the heat, and the mountains, and the never ending sprawl. As I prepare to leave this place—my home for 24 years, my family and all those I hold close to my heart—I have begun to really think about what Arizona is and what it means to me, and I can confidently say that it doesn’t mean politicians, it doesn’t mean white supremacist laws, and it doesn’t mean broken families.
About 3 years ago I joined an organization called the Repeal Coalition. Then we were just starting, solidifying our politics, figuring out strategy, etc. We were tiny, we met every week with about 5 people and we argued. But we kept moving. At the time, and today there are two poles that dominate the immigration debate—on the one hand you have the right calling to “kick em’ out”, and on the other you have the “left” asking for reform. The goal of Repeal was and still is to open that debate, to say that all people—regardless of documentation—have the freedom to live, love, and work anywhere they please. We drafted a resolution calling for all anti immigrant laws to be repealed, and we began to organize around this idea.
Tonight was my last Repeal Coalition meeting. Tonight I sat in a room with 40 undocumented people who were gearing up for a big march this Saturday. Tonight I struggled to keep up with our nearly Spanish only meeting, and tonight I cried tears of joy as I watched the organization I have put my blood sweat and tears into unanimously vote to descend on the city council and demand the repeal of all anti immigrant legislation. Since the passage of SB 1070 this is what our meetings have looked like, this is what our city has looked like, and this is what Arizona has looked like. Both in Phoenix and Flagstaff the undocumented community has taken the streets, stormed city hall, and spent hours in trailer parks, in churches, in saloncitas strategizing about how to win. My friend Joel called this the new Arizona—an Arizona on fire, ready to be won from below, not satisfied with calls for moderation and reform, and fighting back against racist laws and the racists who write them, pass them, and support them. This is the Arizona I know, and I am not ashamed, I’m proud.
Arizona is not just the senator, the mayor or the sheriff, it is not just cowboy laws, and the people who call this place home are not all passive puppets who you should feel ashamed of. Arizona is alive with the spirit of struggle and Arizonans will not stop until SB 1070 is off the books along with all other laws that degrade and discriminate against undocumented people. In Flagstaff we will march on Saturday May 22nd to let the city, the state and the country know that we have forced our city council to file a lawsuit against 1070 and that we demand more—we demand the repeal of all anti immigrant laws, and we demand the freedom to live, love, and work anywhere we please.
This is just the beginning for Arizona, and as I pack box after box, I feel nothing but pride. I live in a state where the people fight back, I work in an organization that believes in freedom and won’t stop until it wins, I’m from Arizona—this is my home, and the spirit of this new Arizona will follow me wherever I go.
For more info: firstname.lastname@example.org
Katie Fahrenbruch works with the Repeal Coalition. She is moving to Atlanta where she will continue to fight for freedom.