Arizona's recent passage of Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, a.k.a. SB1070, a.k.a. the "kick the Latinos out" law, got me thinking about the top ten ways to not get arrested in Arizona. In other words, how to pass as white (or even Black or Asian-American) and thereby avoid the potential criminality of being from South of the Border.
1. If your first or last name contain some letter that is impossible for white people to say, like a "j" or an "x" or those tricky double "ll"s then it's time to legally change it to something whiter and therefore less suspicious. So Mejia can become Mellon or Collado can become Clinton. If you cannot think of a sufficiently white name, try looking up names of Senators or CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. That will help.
2. If you tend to eat lunch outside, where police can easily spot you, consider eating "white folk" foods. Things like NutterFluffers or baloney and american cheese on white bread will emphasize your legal status. Anything that can be found in the "international" section of the grocery store aisle, from tacos to rice noodles, should be avoided when eating in public.
3. Remember, it's not just what you eat, it's what you drink. White people aren't just prejudiced against people who aren't like them. We are also prejudiced against water from the tap. We like to drink bottle water. Pay several dollars for "natural spring" water. Or, better yet, pay $6 for an expensive coffee.
4. It's not just what you eat and drink, it's what you wear. In general, white people work really hard at looking bad. Men should wear either jeans that are so big that they fall down around their hips, with ugly sneakers, and an over-sized tee with some sophmoric sexual innuendo on it or they should wear tan khakis that sit up at their waist, with a collared tee shirt. White women like to look "natural" and "asexual." This is very important since such a look requires quite a lot of work, from dying your hair blonde to getting a variety of cosmetic surgeries that are judged as "good" to the extent they aren't noticed. Boob jobs should increase perkiness, not size. Facelifts and nose jobs should allow for "natural aging."
5 It's very important to not live around people who look suspicious. Take a realistic look around your neighborhood. Are your neighbors white and therefore "belong" in Arizona? Or are they Brown and therefore clearly not "native" to the Southwest? Even if you live in the center of "native" Arizonians, what does your house look like? It is important to use all the signs of whiteness for your home's lawn and decor. Consider painting all your walls beige (white people like to call this "eggshell"). Plant your lawn with non-native species, like grass and petunias that require huge amounts of water. Spend lots of time mowing your lawn and making sure it's even. White people always make sure their grass is not just greener, but more even than everyone else's.
6. Look carefully at your job. Does your job scream "white" or does it scream "go ahead and arrest me"? Jobs that scream white include working at the local health food store, reading to "underprivileged" students in kindergarten, and selling marijuana to college kids from your crappy apartment near campus. Jobs that scream "arrest me" include working for immigration-rights groups and anything involving taking care of white peoples' homes or families.
7. Consider your family pet. Does it look "native" or "foreign"? Cats are less important since they are hidden in the home, but if you have a dog, it should be a golden retriever or a black, yellow or brown lab. I don't know why, but these are the whitest dogs in the world and scream "real citizen" as opposed to "foreigner." Dogs to avoid include any dogs that have a reputation for being aggressive and territorial, like pitbulls and dobermans. White people do not like animals that are territorial, but rather animals that are passive and docile. Perhaps this is a Freudian projection of who white people would like to be or perhaps it is a rather pragmatic response for a white need to dominate.
8. Consider your partner. Is she or he white? Even if you're not white, having a white partner will mark you as less suspicious. If your partner is almost white, consider giving them a gift certificate to your local dermatologist for some skin bleaching. After all, nothing screams "legal" like having a white partner.
9. Modes of transport: Volvo or messenger bike good; Chevy or public transportation bad. Think before you move through space.
10. Whatever you do, do NOT show up at protests accusing your governor of racially profiling Latinos. After all, it's not like this law discriminates. Surely white Arizonans will be stopped as often as Brown ones. And even if it does, well, nothing makes you look more suspicious of being a foreigner than questioning the logic of white nativism.