A few days ago I posted about the draconian new anti-immigration law in Arizona that formally (because let’s face it, informally it had already been operational) criminalizes what one legal reporter calls “breathing while undocumented.” (This post was also syndicated to Jezebel, by the way.) In response, everyone’s been circulating Public Enemy’s “By The Time I Get to Arizona,” their 1991 protest against Arizona’s refusal to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day. But Chuck D’s been busy! Earlier this month he released the single “Tear Down That Wall,” which responds in part to the anti-immigrant fervor and the deaths of migrants crossing the Mexico-United States border, and is as such amazingly timely. (Davey D posts about it here, and the track is available for download here.) Here’s what Chuck D and his wife Dr. Gaye Theresa Johnson have to say:
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 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 Joe Arpaio, 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. 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.
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.
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. This should include the NBA playoffs, revisiting the actions of the NFL in 1993, when they moved the Superbowl 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.”