Sunday, June 27, 2010

Forum on SB 1070 at the University of Florida

This is part of a report on a forum on SB 1070 sponsored by the Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations at the University of Florida Fredric G. Levin College of Law, that was held on Wednesday, June 16, 2010. The complete report is available at:

[Professor Pedro] Malavet addressed the law and its implications from a standpoint of culture and race.

"Laws like this reflect a level of anti-Hispanic, anti-Latina/Latino sentiment that will have a most pernicious effect on citizens," he said.

Malavet, who was born in Puerto Rico, expressed concerns about racial profiling that will occur because of the law, based his own personal experiences and the experiences of other Latino and Latina citizens.

"Can any of you right now, right here prove that you’re a citizen of the United States?" he asked. "And the other question is 'why would you be asked to prove that you’re a citizen of the United States by a law enforcement officer?'"

Latinos and Latinas are often categorized or thought of as one race in the United States, even though they are a multi-racial ethnic group, but this leads to racism based on the outward appearance of being foreign, Malavet said.

"I think that one of the reasons why we see laws like SB 1070 is not really concern over immigration, legal or otherwise. I think it is about us; it is about Latina and Latino citizens and it is about the fact that we are going to be the largest identifiable group within the United States in the coming century."

The Latino and Latina population is estimated to have increased by over one-third between 2000 and 2009, he said.

Latinos and Latinas have always been viewed in the United States as racially inferior, Malavet said. Perceptions and stereotypes of Latinos and Latinas have even shifted during the history of the U.S. to uphold this viewpoint.

"We have been citizens of this country since before it was this country," Malavet said, "and if you think about it, the two largest Hispanic groups in the United States are Mexican-American and Puerto Ricans; not one of us came to the United States at the time our territories were first conquered by this country, the United States came to us."

"Everybody who values citizenship in this country needs to understand that we are the most successful multi-cultural democracy in the history of the planet, and we will continue to be only when we value that diversity and fight the racism that SB 1070 reflects," he said.

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