Tag Archives: arizona

An Arizona (Bubble) State of Mind

In my experience, Arizona is a bubble that shields us from national events or disasters. I haven’t pinpointed an exact cause, but I surmise it has something to do with the state’s culture and location. We’re not on either coast, and we’ve got so much land between us and adjoining states that it’s easy to feel isolated. Moreover, when the sun is shining nearly 24/7, it can be difficult to stay focused on something difficult or upsetting that’s happening thousands of miles away. Also, we don’t interact with people on a day to day basis, so it’s hard to cultivate a collaborative concern over something.

When 9/11 happened, I lived about 30 miles away from the towers. The entire tri-state area shutdown; all of the tunnels, bridges, and major buildings were evacuated and closed. The sentiment was of complete systemic shock – for weeks and months. People spoke with their neighbors, friends, relatives, and complete strangers on the street about it. As you probably heard, there was an incredibly unified feel between people. However, when my family moved to AZ in January of ’02, the emotional climate was completely different. Yes, everyone had been wholly shocked by what happened, and yes sympathy was unbounded for the tragedy, but no one really heard details everyday, and there was a definite disconnect in understanding the severity of the situation, in my opinion.  The same is true for other newsworthy events nationwide, and perhaps globally. When planes crash in India, economic crises hit Greece, hurricanes strike in New Orleans, terrorists fail to explode a car in Times Square, or even an oil spill occurs in the Gulf of Mexico, we see a snippet or a sound clip, but we don’t really feel it here in Arizona. I don’t really feel it here in Arizona.

Let’s take the oil spill. We hear it on the news, in the paper, online, everywhere, but there’s no real connection between us and the spill. All I hear is politics – words. This person accusing that one of lack of action, that one claiming it’s Obama’s “Katrina,” and some other dolt claiming to have experience that she/he doesn’t have. It’s so contrived by the media whores. There are numbers and statistics, but the entire situation has been so oversaturated that it’s lost all meaning for me. I feel completely isolated from it.

In New York,  I felt more invested in the outcome of the ordeal than I am here.  Maybe, aside from location, it’s also due to the type of communities that surround us. In NY, I felt like I was part of a community – lots of different people from various backgrounds going through the day together in the subway, the bus, or on the streets. I felt invested in humanity, so to speak. Here, we don’t talk to our neighbors, or bump into each other on the street. We drive everywhere, run into our homes to hide from the furnace outside, and don’t really interact. Our friends live miles away, and we usually can’t get there without driving. The culture of the state is to enclose each of us in an air-conditioned bubble for six months out of the year. So how can we expect to feel personally connected to events occuring around the country and the world?

I don’t know how to fix this, to be honest. It’s an easy bubble to get trapped in – any ideas?

What do YOU think about this bubble? Can you relate, or am I only speaking for myself?

Proof of Racist Roots of SB 1070

The argument that I keep hearing in defense of SB 1070 is that it’s simply targeting illegal immigration, and that there’s no racist undertones intended. It’s an opinion that I respect, but also respectfully disagree with.  This bill did not originate solely from the desire to eradicate illegal acts and ensure the safety of our country.

Check out this enlightening clip from The Rachel Maddow show on information on the people who spawned this law: Russell Pearce, The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), and more.  As always, I welcome constructive comments and rebuttal!

Revisiting the ‘Colossus’

As I plan a trip to introduce my loving boyfriend to my neck of the woods – New Jersey/New York City, I’m reminded of why I love the tri-state area.

My family immigrated from the USSR when I was three years old. I had the privilege of growing up in Elizabeth, New Jersey – mere miles away from all of the action. While my grandparents, uncles, and cousins lived within a square mile of our apartment, all of our extended family lived across toll lines. Every couple of weeks, we’d pile up in my dad’s Chevy Celebrity and trek through tunnels and bridges effortlessly. In many ways, I took those places for granted. From my ten-story view, I could see The Twin Towers, The Verrazano Bridge, and on fogless days, even The Statue of Liberty.

My fourth grade class went to Ellis Island – so much history, and yet so little realization of what it all meant. Nowadays, whenever I visit (which I try to do at least twice a year), I feel completely at home in Times Square and on NJ Transit buses (which my dad operated for years). I don’t know the streets and roads by heart, but I know who I am when I’m there. Crazy as it sounds, I feel safe within the crowd. My obsession with 24 should tell me otherwise — but I can’t help it.

So this year, my boyfriend’s coming with me, and we’re *hopefully* going to be full-on tourists. We’ll stay with my grandparents and meet up with friends, but for the majority of the time, we’ll be at the Natural History Museum, the Met, the MoMA (aren’t I a trendster), and the Empire State Building. We’ll catch an off-broadway play, and we’ll get to go to the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island. (Disclaimer: I’ve received an immunity deal from the Evil Eye on any excitement on impending trip mentioned herein).

The last two spots seem particularly timely; amid Arizona’s turmoil with a misguided (to borrow a wise man’s words) anti-illegal immigration bill, it’s sad to think of how our country began and how it presents itself today. As an immigrant myself, I feel so lucky to have been given a chance to grow up in the United States. I’m lucky to be part of the millions of people who’ve been sheltered in these states. Yes, the shelter happened to be acquired legally, but as a child, all you know is that you’re safe, and you’re in good hands. I don’t condone illegal activities, but I don’t think anything is as black and white as Arizona’s legislature is making it out to be. I’ve read SB-1070, or at least I’ve tried to, and it’s very confusing.

I’m trying very hard not to simply jump on the bandwagon. I’ve really tried to think this through, and I wonder how many others have as well. What does this bill really mean – and does it resonate with this country’s long history of sheltering the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses? I think you’ll agree with me that it doesn’t. Not simply because it’s a partisan bill, or a “Republican” and an “Old West” bill – but because it doesn’t feel right. It’s not ethical. It doesn’t highlight the best of our country. There must be a better way to secure our borders without resorting to this. Perhaps the solution is for the State government to slow down and collaborate, and to do so with a more active Federal government. The latter is getting flack for not doing enough to combat illegal immigration – but it had it’s plate full, wouldn’t you agree?

It’s hard to feel like you can make a difference when people in our state government act without consideration for human rights. It’s exhausting, to be honest. I feel so drained just thinking about it. And I’m not even the one directly targeted in this bill (though I’m sure it’ll affect my loved ones and me).  I worry. I worry that crime against non-whites will increase. I worry that suspicion and backstabbing will increase. I worry that people who really, truly need shelter won’t get it. I worry that racism has gotten the seal of approval from the likes of Jan Brewer and Russell Pearce.

But, I’m hopeful that with activism, with enough votes, this can be reversed somehow. If not, I feel almost compelled to apologize to the Statue of Liberty and all that it stands for.