When I was an undergraduate at Harvard, I heard horror stories at the dinner table from a number of my African American friends and classmates, particularly males, about negative and completely unwarranted experiences with police officers. Of course, Latinos weren’t completely immune to that type of discrimination either, but our situation did not seem nearly as difficult and pervasive. Now all of that may be changing. Just as we take one step forward, we may be taking two steps back. Not long after our first African American president hosted the legendary beer summit to assuage the ruffled feathers over the race-driven flap between a Cambridge police officer and Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Arizona legislature is de facto legalizing racial profiling of Latinos as it broadens the powers of police to identify and apprehend undocumented immigrants.
According to the New York Times, “Passage of the law, which would, among other things, allow the authorities to demand proof of legal entry into the United States from anyone suspected of being in the country illegally, testified to the relative lack of political power of Arizona Latinos, and to the hardened views toward illegal immigration among Republican politicians both here and nationally.”