Governor Jan Brewer and Spike Lee in the Spotlight as Some Stick a Finger at Them


Theme:– Operation C.R.U.S.H. Against Gun Violence, Bias and Clouded Vision

Is February now a “hot button” time on the calendar related to civil rights? This year beyond the African-American celebrations there’s been the issue of religious liberties raised in Arizona and gentrification in Brooklyn. Governor Jan Brewer and Spike Lee are in the spotlight as some people stick a finger at them.

Lee wonders why resources show up in neighborhoods when the racial complexion changes. One point of view says it’s a frustrating-fallout for which “blight turns into flight” then new money is marketed as urban renewal. Property value goes up as some move out (or are bought/forced out), and others move in.

The Arizona debate has been on protecting religious liberties. So Senate Bill SB 1062 was passed to give businesses the right to not serve a certain demographic group. Governor Brewer vetoed SB 1062 on the grounds that it had the potential to create more problems than it was supposedly going to solve.

In some respects the issues in Arizona and Brooklyn are related to managing social change. However beyond that, the problem with the proposed law in Arizona lies in how a closely-held belief can become a bias and whether SB 1062 would protect against an existing bias or project/impose a new bias.

What should Lee’s comments and Brewer’s veto teach us? Maybe that bias, whether institutional or social, create more problems than solutions. But they might also spur us to organize around “community branding” so that one’s self-identity is not steam-rolled by those who disrespect your self-interests.

Footnote: Civil Rights laws should protect against bias not project/impose bias. Gentrification is a social change phenomenon that could have some civil rights strains, gains and mixed-bag effects.