Arizona’s anti-immigrant SB1070 is in the throes of Congress – is it constitutional or is it unconstitutional? – but that doesn’t mean you have to be undecided about it.
The Asian American Writers Workshop has launched an initiative called WordStrike, and is inviting writers to join the likes of Jhumpa Lahiri, Salman Rushdie, Noam Chomsky, Junot Diaz, Ha Jin and others in boycotting the state of Arizona – and signing the WordStrike letter opposing SB1070.
If you’re a writer – or if you write – and you oppose the bill, please be kind and sign. If you are neither, carry on and move along.
Full press release below. Read the letter/Sign the petition at WordStrike.
The Asian American
OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE
|Contact: Ken Chen
Phone: (212) 494-0061
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 29, 2010
Wordstrike: Writers Join Boycott of Arizona— Literary heavy-weights Junot Díaz, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Noam Chomsky take stand against Arizona’s racially-charged legislation —
NEW YORK, July 29, 2010 — Today The Asian American Writers’ Workshop announced Wordstrike, an initiative to unite writers to boycott the state of Arizona until anti-immigrant legislation SB 1070 is repealed. More than 100 writers have signed the Wordstrike letter, including Jhumpa Lahiri, Junot Díaz, Ha Jin, Jessica Hagedorn, Luis Rodriguez, Noam Chomsky, Maxine Hong Kingston, Adrienne Rich, Salman Rushdie, and Sandra Cisneros. The letter can be found at wordstrike.net.
Arizona statute SB 1070 requires law enforcement officers to detain anyone they think is an illegal immigrant, which will no doubt lead to widespread unreasonable detention and racial profiling. Though a federal judge has put a hold on some parts of the law, this hold is only temporary; in fact, lawyers for the State of Arizona are convinced SB1070 will be found constitutional. As the Wordstrike letter states: “We believe Arizona represents the epicenter in a major civil rights battle of our time. . . And we call upon all writers—no matter their citizenship, no matter their ethnicity—to join us in repudiating this virulent, repugnant law.”
As Andrew Hsiao, a member of the AAWW Board of Directors, states: “As writers from immigrant communities, we are saddened, frightened and angered by Arizona’s new laws. All of us at The Asian American Writers’ Workshop felt we had to join the national movement against this flowering of hatred, and we’re immensely gratified by the response by the literary community.”
Wordstrike signatory and Tony Award winning playwright David Henry Hwang states: “Arizona’s SB 1070 literally legislates prejudice; its provisions can only encourage law enforcement to pre-judge individuals based on their ethnic appearance. As writers and artists, we will do all we can to prevent this insidious and unfair law from taking effect.”
Ken Chen, Executive Director of AAWW, states: “As writers, we must work to ensure that no one’s voice is silenced because of the way he speaks or the color of his skin.”
Junot Díaz, David Henry Hwang, and Jessica Hagedorn are available for limited press inquiries. For information please contact Ken Chen at (212) 494-0061.
About The Asian American Writers’ Workshop. Founded in 1991, The Asian American Writers’ Workshop (aaww.org) is the most prominent organization in the country dedicated to exceptional literature by writers of Asian descent. A community of sophisticated readers and writers, the Workshop serves as an advocate and support service for Asian American writers and an intellectual and cultural center for Asian American ideas. We believe Asian American Asian American literature is for everyone and a vital chapter of the story of what it means for all of us to be American.
### Writers’ Letter Opposing SB1070
We call on our fellow writers to join the growing movement to boycott the State of Arizona until it revokes anti-immigrant law SB 1070. Scheduled to take effect July 29, the statute requires law enforcement officers to detain anyone they think is an illegal immigrant. The law will lead to the profiling and detention of anyone who does not look like they belong—not just undocumented immigrants, but U.S. citizens and permanent residents. The law also criminalizes anyone who shelters or transports an undocumented immigrant and allows anyone to sue any Arizona county, city, or town, if they think the law is not being enforced zealously enough. What Arizona has legislated, in other words, is nothing less than a police state.
As writers, we are conscious of the power of the written word. The statutory language of SB 1070 wields the power of the state to decree that the narratives of certain people simply do not count. The law serves as one plank of a larger regulatory framework that not only defines who we are, but dictates whose voices are allowed to speak. Another Arizona law (HB 2281) prohibits schools at any grade level from offering courses that explore the literature and history of any particular race. The Arizona Department of Education has ordered the firing of any teacher who speaks English with a foreign accent. As writers, scholars and educators who are committed to deepening rather than censoring intellectual inquiry, we believe that no one’s voice should be silenced.
We believe Arizona represents the epicenter in a major civil rights battle of our time. We oppose SB 1070, a law that has already been opposed even by the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police and several Republican leaders, and which has inspired a boycott movement by the country’s leading civil rights organizations and union federations, as well as more than twenty-two cities and counties, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Boston. We oppose the national xenophobic fringe movement that last year alone helped pass more than 250 anti-immigrant laws and resolutions in forty-eight states. We call on the administration to vigorously pursue its lawsuit against Arizona and to use all its powers to block SB 1070. And we call upon all writers—no matter their citizenship, no matter their ethnicity—to join us in repudiating this virulent, repugnant law.
Andrew Hsiao, Ken Chen, Jennifer Hayashida
On Behalf of The Asian American Writers’ Workshop
Tariq Ali, Russell Banks, Amiri Baraka, Breyten Breytenbach, Noam Chomsky, Sandra Cisneros, Ry Cooder, Thulani Davis, Junot Díaz, Martin Espada, Eduardo Galeano, Jessica Hagedorn, Tom Hayden, David Henry Hwang, Ha Jin, Maxine Hong Kingston, Naomi Klein, Yusef Komunyakaa, Jhumpa Lahiri, Chang-rae Lee, Ruben Martinez, Michael Ondaatje, Ed Park, Francine Prose, Ishmael Reed, Adrienne Rich, Luis Rodriguez, Salman Rushdie, Wallace Shawn, Andre Schiffrin, Anne Waldman, John Waters.
ADDITIONAL SIGNATORIES AS OF 29 JULY 2010
Francisco X. Alarcón
Lorna Dee Cervantes
Robert S. Eshelman
John J. Fitzgerald
Odilia Galvan Rodriguez
Juan Felipe Herrera
Nina Marie Martínez
Celeste Guzman Mendoza
Loida Maritza Perez
Laura van den Berg
Helena Maria Viramontes
Evelyn C. White
Marilyn B. Young