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Author boycotts Arizona

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Writer Tayari Jones, an assistant professor of creative writing at Rutgers-Newark University and author of the novel “Leaving Atlanta,” has joined the politicians, lawyers and others planning to boycott Arizona in protest of its recently enacted anti-immigration law, SB1070.

Jones was scheduled to appear at the Pima Writers Workshop at Pima Community College in May. It’s not a huge event, and Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik has said he won’t enforce the law, which he calls “stupid.” But that’s not the point. In a letter to conference organizers, which she has posted on her site, Jones writes:

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Due to the passage of the Senate Bill 1070 which sanctions racial profiling and police harassment against brown people, I cannot return to the state of Arizona. Yesterday, I spoke with a dear friend who is an American citizen of Mexican descent who said that he would not feel safe in Arizona, although he (like me) used to call the state home.... My sentiment is captured in James Baldwin’s famous letter to Angela Davis: “If they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night.”

One single author declining to attend a weekend workshop will not make much of a dent in Arizona’s economic status; it is bound to more deeply affect her own. Which is perhaps what makes it notable.

-- Carolyn Kellogg


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