Boycotts don't just happen because people of good will decide to stop dealing with entities they think have done something wrong. A boycott of Arizona to protest and overturn the state's new racist "Papers Please" law is going to take organization, targeting and some solid thinking. Here's a round up of some early information:
On RaceWire, Daisy Hernandez suggests three corporate targets with headquarters in Arizona that many individuals might otherwise patronize:
Another obvious target that reliably gets the attention of state Chambers of Commerce would be any upcoming conventions or professional meetings to be held in Arizona. The Denver school system is already banning work related travel to Arizona.
For those of you who want to make it happen: Don’t book a flight on U.S. Airways, get a domain name through Go Daddy or rent a U-Haul truck.
Religious denominations provide an obvious target to begin assembling this part of the boycott movement. Many are already mobilizing against the law and in defense of the strangers in our midst. Retired South African Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu has posted a powerful letter of protest about the Arizona law:
Go read it all; it is wise and compassionate.
I am saddened today at the prospect of a young Hispanic immigrant in Arizona going to the grocery store and forgetting to bring her passport and immigration documents with her. I cannot be dispassionate about the fact that the very act of her being in the grocery store will soon be a crime in the state she lives in. Or that should a policeman hear her accent and form a "reasonable suspicion" that she is an illegal immigrant, she can -- and will -- be taken into custody until someone sorts it out, while her children are at home waiting for their dinner. ...
I am not speaking from an ivory tower. I lived in the South Africa that has now thankfully faded into history, where a black man or woman could be grabbed off the street and thrown in jail for not having his or her documents on their person.
How far can this go? We lived it -- police waking a man up in the middle of the night and hauling him off to jail for not having his documents on his person while he slept. The fact that they were in his nightstand near the bed was not good enough. ...
... when you strip a man or a woman of their basic human rights, you strip them of their dignity in the eyes of their family and their community, and even in their own eyes. An immigrant who is charged with the crime of trespassing for simply being in a community without his papers on him is being told he is committing a crime by simply being. He or she feels degraded and feels they are of less worth than others of a different color skin. These are the seeds of resentment, hostilities and in extreme cases, conflict. Such "solutions" solve nothing.
Many politicians (those with many Latino constituents most obviously) need to be brought on board for the boycott to gain traction. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is looking into city options. In San Francisco, city pols are already trying to one up each other in their enthusiasm for a city boycott.
Having had the privilege of working in South Africa as the apartheid regime was crumbling under international sanctions, I learned that for most ordinary South African whites, the most distressing of the sanctions was the sports boycott. Arizona is extremely vulnerable to pressure through its professional teams. Already today, the baseball Diamondbacks were met with protest in Chicago when playing the Cubs. Major League Baseball is a particularly vulnerable target for the Arizona boycott. At least one quarter of the players are foreign-origin Latinos; the 2011 All-Star Game is scheduled for Phoenix. Could it be moved with enough pressure? There is precedent. The NFL took the 1990 Super Bowl away from Arizona when the state refused to honor the Martin Luther King holiday.
In addition to the regular season, many teams conduct their spring training in the Cactus League in Arizona. All of them (Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, "Los Angeles" Angels of Anaheim, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers) provide additional targets for pro-immigrant activists in their own cities. Washington State blogger Goldy has written a tight analysis of why the Cubs in particular might prove to be the opening wedge of a baseball spring training boycott.
All this is going to take organization. (A website is already up; I don't know whether something with more evident institutional backing may appear.) There are, after all, lots of our fellow citizens who think the Arizona law is a good idea.
We need to applaud, support, and, if appropriate, reward Arizona individuals and institutions that work within the state to overturn the "papers please" law.
A boycott needs a clear communication strategy -- those of us who are appalled by what the Grand Canyon State has done need to be able to explain to our neighbors why "papers please" is not an answer to anxiety about immigrants, about violence, and about an economy that generates a growing gap between rich and poor. In addition to calling out anti-Latino racism, we need to project a vision of society that works better for everyone.