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Cinco de Los Suns: The Team Stands Up to the Arizona Immigration Law

Cinco de Los Suns:  The Team Stands Up to the Arizona Immigration Law

Martin Luther King, Jr., in his most celebrated speech, said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”  Had he known of the Phoenix Suns’ decision to protest the new Arizona immigration law in unique fashion, he might have added: “And by their ability to jay, one, bank in, and, without regard to race, religion, economic status or ethnicity, be acknowledged as totally dunkadelic.”

Certainly there are those who think professional sports are a frivolous, mindless, outrageously money-laden diversion from the real and pressing problems of society.  However, perhaps more than any other single enterprise, professional sports have leveled the playing field in terms of providing access based entirely on ability.  A pretty face, a social pedigree, an alabaster hue don’t mean nuthin’ if you can’t handle the ball.

At the bottom of its lightless heart, racism is a failure to connect, to see one’s values, fears, dreams, and hopes reflected in another, to fully feel that we are all human beings, more similar than different, and that differences are not to be feared but to be understood, sometimes compassionately challenged but always learned from and celebrated.  Racists, in their blanket condemnation and dehumanization of groups of people based on superficial and involuntary characteristics, are, above all, profoundly ignorant, and ignorance is most effectively countered through education.  And what is education but a process of enlightenment through knowledge and identification?

In 1936, Jesse Owens won four gold medals in “Hitler’s Olympics,” thus refuting the Führer’s claim of Aryan superiority and spoiling his intended display of  “Master Race” dominance.  On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson stepped out upon the field as a Brooklyn Dodger and the first African American to play in the majors, and I like to think that, despite the taunts and threats he received, his spectacular performance and personal grace caused a million cracks to appear in a million stony racist hearts, proving once and for all that racism has no chance against team spirit.  Professional sports is full of such stories and many professional athletes, by first breaking the race/color barrier, have been seminal in transforming racist attitudes and judgments. 

The Suns’ decision – based on a unanimous vote and full support of management – to wear their “Los Suns” uniforms as a Cinco de Mayo tribute “to honor [the] Latino community and the diversity of our league, the state of Arizona, and our nation” is, as Yahoo!Sports-writer Trey Kirby says, “awesome.”  He notes that while sports franchises frequently consider making political statements to be bad business – “as Michael Jordan put it, ‘Republicans buy shoes too’” – sometimes they have the cojones to take a stand.  Owner Robert Sarver said when he suggested that the team wear their Noche Latina jerseys, “However intended, the result of passing the law is that our basic principles of equal rights and protection under the law are being called into question and Arizona’s already struggling economy will suffer even further setbacks at a time when the state can ill-afford them.”

The Suns’ rivals in Wednesday night’s game 2, the San Antonio Spurs, attempted to demonstrate their solidarity by wearing their own “Los Spurs” jerseys but simply didn’t have the time to make that happen.  But, hey, the thought counts and it’s clear that the NBA, as an organization, is fully supportive of these acts of protest. In a press release issued by NBA Players Association, Executive Director Billy Hunter declared:

“The recent passage of the new immigration law in Arizona is disappointing and disturbing. The National Basketball Players Association strongly supports the repeal or immediate modification of this legislation. Any attempt to encourage, tolerate or legalize racial profiling is offensive and incompatible with basic notions of fairness and equal protection. A law that unfairly targets one group is ultimately a threat to all.

“We applaud the actions of Phoenix Suns players and management and join them in taking a stand against the misguided efforts of Arizona lawmakers. We are consulting with our members and our player leadership to determine the most effective way for our union to continue to voice our opposition to this legislation.”

I don’t believe that anyone would disagree that US immigration policy needs an overhaul. Nations have the right and the obligation to determine and control immigration. I’m going to be traveling in Greece this summer and I certainly don’t expect to be able to plop my behind on the beach and announce, Sweet! I think I’ll live here now.  Since United States is known as a country of immigrants and advertises itself as the ‘land of opportunity,’ is it any wonder that many people, whose home countries are rife with poverty and war, might be lured by the promise of life here?  However, any new law needs to be grounded in principles of compassion and practicality, as well address concerns about safety and abuse.  The Arizona law, in my opinion, does neither.

So, ¡viva Los Suns!  I do, however, admit to one caveat: should they eventually face my home team for the NBA title, I will have to say: ¡Gracias, Los Suns, por su acción honorable y valiente, pero vaya Los Celtics!

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48 comments

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5:50PM PDT on Jul 25, 2010

ok that last post was my wife writing just to let anyone know where credit or discourse is due. And she is a legal alien and I part legal alien and the other part original Native American. I consider everyone here illegally standing on blood stained stolen property of 1/2 my ancestors. So for all of you legal buffs, what about brutally deceiving,stealing, raping and murdering nations of original native Americans do you consider legal?

5:40PM PDT on Jul 25, 2010

Boycotting is an excellent way to make change. Hurray for anyone who boycotts Arizona. Most "illegal" aliens from Mexico do jobs that most Americans don't want to do. I picked Strawberries one summer, earned almost nothing and had a sore back to boot. Anyone who wants the Arizona law that racially profiles Hispanics should pick fruit and vegetables in the hot sun for a living and sleep in a shack without running water and be somebody's maid. Otherwise, shut up. And as far as social services go, the last time I looked at the pie graph for our tax dollar, social services was a tiny little sliver representing perhaps a penny or two while our defense war mongering fund was a good 33 cents or more and the huge retirements given to our bought out congress was very fat indeed. So lets focus on the real criminals, ie. BP, ecological terrorists, the credit card companies and the banks, economic terrorists. These entities commit crimes against the American people and since the Supreme Court gave them status as persons, then they should get the death penalty and ther assets seized for public funding of free health care, social security,and home loans at 1 or 2 % (which is the interest rate banks give to each other.) Legislate debt forgiveness for all credit card and mortgage debts $300.000 and less. Dissolve the Federal Reserve and let us, the people print our own money. Don't depend on any president. They all will fold. Boycott, drop out, regroup locally and help each other.

9:44AM PDT on Jul 18, 2010

we all deserve to be here and have no right to profile anyone what a bunch of alarmists

9:07AM PDT on Jul 17, 2010

What do they really think they are "standing up to" here, anyway? I resent the attempt that SOME groups are waging to racialize behaviours. I thought we all agreed that race isn't inherent with actions, no?

Illegal immigration is ILLEGAL for anyone who commits it, race aside. If you commit the crime, you'll have to "do the time," and stop whining about how "unfairly" you'll be treated because of your own choices.

I am sick to death of all the crying and wailing about how "immigrants are people too" as a way of excusing illegal immigration. I'm an immigrant, and I would have NO issue with producing identification to an Arizona police officer were I requested to do so. None. Not a even a hint of a problem. Why?

4:33AM PDT on Jul 17, 2010

They should have gone all the way and called themselves "Los Soles" but you cannot expect that from the language-deficient Americans who even go around naming their cities in a halfass Spanglish that is wrong in both languages like "Mission Viejo" (s/b "Mision Vieja") or just plain stupid like "Manteca" (hi, welcome to Lard, California).

12:46PM PDT on Jul 16, 2010

Very good article! Thanks!

12:48AM PDT on Jul 16, 2010

I live in Arizona and even the police are sueing the Governor's office. They have too much on their plate already and are not border patrol or immigration officers. If you have blonde hair and blue eyes and run a stop light, no officer is going to ask to see your citizenship papers or visa or green card. This law was amended to say no racial profiling but it is unavoidable since those entering Arizona's borders come through Mexico. The Hispanic Americans in this country are hard working, honorable, family oriented friends and neighbors and having the police ask for proof of their legality to be in this country is insulting and demeaning. Immigration reform is necessary but the Arizona law is bad law and does not solve the problem of illegals.

10:18PM PDT on Jul 15, 2010

Thanks.

4:05PM PDT on Jul 15, 2010

If I was born into poverty in a country with a corrupt government, and there was a better world around the corner that wouldn't let me in legally, you bet'cha I'd do everything in my power to make a better life for myself no matter who or what stood in my way.. We need to stop drawing lines in the sand.. WE ARE ALL CREATURES OF THE PLANET EARTH!

9:16AM PDT on May 19, 2010

and no we will not support the bill sb1070 and jan who the f u think u are??????? and go suns u guys rock and thanks for supporting us latinos:)

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