Arizona’s past is fraught with racial discrimination and prejudice against marginalized groups, specifically Native Americans, Black Americans, and Latinx individuals. The state has a history of enacting policies and laws that have restricted the voting, civil, and human rights of these communities, dating back to its territorial origins. Racism is not just limited to personal beliefs and actions; it is deeply embedded in societal institutions and structures as a system of power and privilege.
Exploring the issue of racial prejudice in Arizona, we take a closer look at the cities that exhibit the highest levels of discrimination. Throughout this article, we will examine various indicators and sources to determine which city stands out as the most racially biased.
Phoenix: A City Shaped by Racism
According to various rankings and reports, Phoenix, which is both the most populous city and the capital of the state, has been branded as the most racially prejudiced city in Arizona. Interestingly, it was established in 1867 by a former Confederate soldier, and the name of the city is believed to represent a revival of the South after the end of the Civil War.
The impact of the Old South’s values and practices on Phoenix cannot be ignored, as it was deeply influenced by slavery, segregation, lynching, and white supremacy. The city implemented a variety of discriminatory policies that were commonplace during the Jim Crow era, including zoning restrictions, poll taxes, literacy tests, and anti-miscegenation laws. These policies resulted in the segregation of neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, and public facilities for people of color. It is clear that the legacy of this history is still felt today and must be acknowledged and addressed.
Throughout its history, Phoenix has been marred by a disturbing trend of violence and oppression directed towards Native Americans, who were the first inhabitants of the land. The city was built on top of the ruins of Indigenous communities, and many were forcibly removed from their homes, killed, or confined to reservations by both the U.S. government and settlers. This tragic legacy serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggle for Native American rights and the need for continued efforts to address past injustices.
Phoenix’s Native American community has been subjected to discrimination and exploitation, with their access to education, healthcare, employment, and justice being consistently denied. Furthermore, cultural assimilation and erasure measures have been implemented to suppress or prohibit their languages, religions, and customs.
Immigrants and refugees from Latin America have not received a warm welcome in Phoenix. The city has been home to some of the most anti-immigrant politicians and policies in the country. For instance, former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is infamous for racially profiling and mistreating Latinx individuals in his detention facilities and patrols, is a prime example of this.
In 2017, former President Donald Trump granted a pardon to Arpaio, who had been convicted of criminal contempt. This was due to Arpaio’s defiance of a court order, which ordered him to stop his illegal immigration enforcement practices. Unfortunately, Phoenix has also passed laws that have further criminalized undocumented immigrants. These laws have deprived them of essential services and rights, with SB 1070 being a clear example. This law required law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of anyone suspected of being in the country illegally.
Moreover, Phoenix has been plagued by accusations of environmental racism, a term used to describe situations where people of color face a disproportionate amount of pollution and environmental hazards. The city is home to seven military bases that have been known to cause contamination in communities of color, leading to poor air quality, high levels of particulate matter, and ozone pollution. The health of Phoenix’s residents is at risk due to these factors. Unfortunately, people of color tend to live in areas with substandard housing, limited access to green spaces, inadequate infrastructure, and a lack of healthy food options.
Resistance and Resilience: The Fight for Justice and Equality
Despite facing persistent racism and discrimination, the people of color in Phoenix have demonstrated incredible resilience and unwavering commitment to achieving justice and equality. Through organized movements and campaigns, they have challenged the status quo and demanded meaningful change. In addition, they have established safe and inclusive spaces where they can celebrate their unique cultures and identities, while offering support and empowerment to their communities.
Phoenix has demonstrated impressive resistance and resilience in various instances, including the following noteworthy examples:
For over a century, Phoenix’s legacy has been tarnished by a history of racism and discrimination towards people of color. Throughout this time, laws and policies have been enacted that have systematically denied these individuals access to power, status, and resources. In addition, there have been instances of violence and oppression inflicted upon Native Americans, Black Americans, and Latinx individuals. Despite these obstacles, people of color have exhibited incredible resilience in their quest for justice and equality. Phoenix is home to a diverse and lively population that enriches its culture and economy, presenting the opportunity to overcome its racist past and present and create a more inclusive and equitable future.