City Council: Stand Firm Against Racist Arizona Immigration Law

Becky Shuster, YWCA Boston community dialogue facilitator and member of Community Dialogues Advisory Committee.
seal 443_tcm3-27739

This May, the Boston City Council passed a resolution urging the city not to invest in Arizona state or local government to protest its repressive legislation against individual who may be perceived to be undocumented immigrants due to their physical characteristics.

When I heard this news, I was deeply proud of their swift, principled stand. I hoped and believed that their response to Arizona’s racist policy rose directly out of the recent YWCA Boston dialogues on race attended by members of the Council.

I was honored to co-facilitate that dialogue series where the councilors and their staff engaged in structured discussion about the impact of race in their individual lives and our city.

One particularly meaningful conversation centered around the importance of the golden rule: How can those who have lived in Boston for generations, ensure that we treat the newest immigrant groups the way they wish their own fore parents had been treated upon their arrival?

How fabulous after having a conversation about their own ancestry and the golden rule, that this diverse City Council – Irish, Italian, Jewish, African, and Latino-Americans – made this unified and bold statement just a week after the dialogue series concluded. A few days later, I was saddened to hear of the onslaught of hateful calls, faxes, and emails that deluged the Councilors’ offices, objecting to their stance.

Those efforts are bolstered by continued media attention from the Boston Herald. We may never know what portion of that deluge came from outside Boston, even outside Massachusetts or why the Herald  – by keeping this front page news  – is fanning hostility. But regardless, I grieve for those who harbor such intolerance. I wonder what happened to the individuals perpetrating this backlash that has left them feeling so confused about our most noble and shared human interests.

Two generations ago my ancestors arrived here, fleeing violent anti-Semitism and seeking a new, welcoming home where Jews could flourish.

A hundred years later and despite the many examples of progress  towards racial equality and inclusion, I am outraged by the escalation of personal and institutional targeting of recent immigrants, particularly those of color. I applaud each and every City Councilor for taking this stand toward eliminating racism, and hope they will not bend.