Arizona is rapidly getting a reputation as one of the worst places in the country for brown people. Not only does it have a high concentration of vigilantes perpetrating border injustice but also has several state politician supported attacks on organizations and academic programs for or about people of color, specifically targeting MECHA and Chican@ Studies, as well as multicultural curriculum at the grade school level.
In this environment, it is no surprise that radio djs think they can make comments about Chican@s without consequence. Jon Justice has used his radio show, on Arizona’s radio 104.1, to advocate sexual violence against well known human and immigrant rights activist Isabel Garcia. Not only did he speak about it on air, he put videos of himself assaulting a pinata likeness of her with her picture on it while crying out “viva la raza.” (The layers of sick conflation of racism and sexism here would take a whole semester to unpack.)
Ooooooh Viva la Raza….feels SOoosoosoosoo gooood
Can I take her home with me? I’m going to take her home with me! MmMmMM…
-from video on you tube
The connection between sexual exploitation, assault, and immigration policy is well documented. Arizona, like other border states, has “rape trees” where women’s under garments are strewn across branches presumably as a sign of the price they paid to cross the border (while some have claimed these trees, which appeared shortly after the minute men, are propaganda for the conservatives, the existence of rape on the border by all sides is well documented, including a case against Border Patrol in TX and ongoing complaints of sexual assault in detention). And stories of assault and degradation surface regularly with ever new ICE raid. It is clear there is a mentality in border towns that rivals that of the neo-nazi inspired anti-immigration beatings in Russia. They too put their videos out on the internet. And they too believe it is an important part of checking any citizen or government inspired policies supporting immigrants’ rights and inculcating a growing culture of hate. And while Jon Justice may have physically assaulted no one, his actions not only resonate with the stories of those who have but could, in the wrong hands, incite such behavior. Worse, Jon should know this since he was quoted as saying:
I dont know about you, but when I see children beating up on the likeness of a human being, and then another person like isabel garcia … picking up the head of that likeness of a person … and then parading that around I would take that as a threat of physical violence …
Like John McCain however, Jon Justice thinks jokes about rape and especially those with racial over or undertones are both amusing and acceptable.
This is not just an isolated attack either. At one point in the video, Jon argues that raping women of Mexican descent is “easy”:
Oh, she’s pretty light, actually! You see when you do all that work on the border in the hot sun, you lose weight!
His argument not only expands his target beyond Isabel Garcia, whose only crime was winning a Human Rights award from Mexico and standing up for the legal rights of the immigrant community in Arizona, to all brown women. And he does so, by making jokes about unsafe labor conditions less than 2 months after a pregnant teenager died of heat stroke working in the vineyards in California while the foreman did nothing.
In a nation where “shock jock” Imus is back on the air after a national campaign to hold him accountable for his disparaging remarks about women of color, and djs in Alaska made racialized sexist jokes about indigenous women with very little non-local out cry (and claim innocence b/c of lack of intent after a 3 week suspension), there is more at stake than what one dj has said and done. If we map these incidents and their frequency, we cannot ignore that the radio has become a key site for the targeting of women, and women of color in particular. During an election year in which it became acceptable for media pundits and outlets to refer to one of the candidates as a “shrew” a “b—h” and a “monster” and depict another as a terrorist burning down all things American from within the White House, there is a very real ideological battle at stake when we ignore or excuse people like Jon Justice.
In a state like Arizona, which has become increasingly hostile to its indigenous and Chican@ and Latin@ communities, his racist and sexist behavior is all the more dangerous. The fact that he has now chosen to play victim in this situation and encourage his listeners to vilify Derechos Humanos speaks to how little he understands the consequences of his behavior as well as the reasons for why neither rape nor racially motivated assault are amusing. Like others that claim victim status when they are victimizing a people, Jon thinks pointing to the actions of his intended victims excuses his own behavior. As I say to my students, if you hit a person and they yell back does that make you less guilty of assaulting them? Sadly, when the second person is a woman, a person of color, or a woman of color than some people think the answer is yes
The good news: several companies have expressed concern about the continued employment and lack of sanction for Jon Justice and pulled their advertising. And there is a write in campaign sponsored by Derechos Humanos.
Here is a list of things you can do:
- Contact local Pima County officials in support of Isabel Garcia
- Call on the advertisers of 104.1 FM “The Truth” radio to end their support of hate radio, misogyny, and racism.
- Visit Derechos Humanos for other ideas and resources, including sample letters.