Saturday, April 30, 2011

PIlgrim Rest Baptist Church

Church in present day, 2000-2010 (Source:
May 5th, 2010 SB1070 Protest March at Pilgrim Rest (Source:

1401 E. Jefferson St., Phoenix, AZ 85034

Pilgrim Rest is in its 89th year, yet it looks nothing today like it did when it was founded. In 1922, three reverends - J. Howard, R. Thomas, and M. Boyd - sited the original church in Somerton, AZ outside of Yuma, but by 1930, it had relocated to 1417 East Madison Street in central Phoenix. Tumultuous leadership defined the following few decades, but under better direction, the church was again relocated in 1968, this time to its current address. The church fared better in the decades that followed Reverend Stevenson’s appointment, and included acting as host for the 101st National Baptist Convention of America in 1981. One of the historic moments for Pilgrim Rest, though, and the moment marking its modern era, was on November 16. 1984, when Reverend Alexis Thomas became senior pastor of  the church at age sixteen. The church grew rapidly under Reverend Thomas’ tenure, from “250 to over 3,0000” members, which called for a larger campus under his ‘Vision 2000’ program, and turned the church into the state-of-the-art, 2,500 seat auditorium that it is today ( Into the present, the church has expanded from solely a place of worship to include the Word Center for religious education services, and the Wellness center, which includes a spa, and also Café Eden, providing healthy dining options.

Pilgrim Rest is one of the largest black churches in Phoenix, rivaling First Institutional Baptist Church just down the road. This status alone makes it representative of race and space, with the segregated practice of religion forming a particular practice of Christianity which is understood through a racial lens - there is no corresponding ‘white church’. In addressing community concerns, Pastor Thomas sponsored the U.S. Marshals Safe Surrender program in November of 2006, and among his many ministries is a prison ministry. Both of these show examples of an understanding of the systemic racism which plagues the black community in how criminality is assessed, and it also shows a willingness to extend a helping hand to ease the burden of dealing with the state.

In recent news, though, Pilgrim Rest was host to the Reverend Al Sharpton on May 5th of 2010, when he led a several-thousand peopled march from the church to the capitol building in protest of SB1070. As noted in publications like The Grio, and indeed, by Sharpton himself in a speech from the pulpit that night, the African American and Latino communities are often at odds with one another. Thus the decision to stage a march with a significantly racially-mixed crowd of supporters, on an issue of Latino rights, from a decidedly black church and black leader was an historic move on the part of Pilgrim Rest, and the supporting African-American community in Phoenix.

- Lucas Marks

Alexis Thomas Ministries. 2010. 25 April 2011 <>

Hutchinson, Earl Ofari. “Black leaders out of step with followers on immigration.” The Grio. May 2010. 25 April 2011 < with-followers-on-immigration.php>

Pilgrim Rest. 25 April 2011 <>

United States Marshals Service. 25 April 2011 <>

Chinese Cultural Center

Chinese Cultural Center, garden and main building, 2011 (photo by Lucas Marks)

Architectural design drawing of the Chinese Cultural Center, 1996 (Source:
668 N. 44th St., Phoenix, AZ 85008 

The Chinese Cultural Center was the brainchild of the BNU Corporation, with initial development begun in October 1995. The approval of parent company, COFCO, came in early 1996, and a design by architectural firm Cornoyer Hedrick was accepted by the City of Phoenix shortly thereafter. Construction proper began in February of 1997, and the main structure was completed by December of that year, though the grand opening was not until a year later.

Nowadays, the center is marketed as “a uniquely up-scale cultural, culinary and shopping attraction” and is home to the Ranch 99 supermarket, three restaurants featuring different regional cuisines, and retail shops, the most noteworthy of which are the Chinese herbalist, Asian audio/video, and two ‘gift’ style stores selling home décor and furniture ( The center also features gardens which are modeled off of those in ancient Chinese cities. Madame Ye was responsible for their design, and construction was completed in 100 days, begun in August, 1997. Finally, the center hosts an annual Chinese New Year celebration, and has also been involved with both the mid-autumn and mid-summer (Moon and Dragon Boat) festivals.

COFCO is a state-owned enterprise of the People’s Republic of China. It is primarily a foodstuff importer/exporter, but is also involved in “real estate (there are COFCO centers in Beijing and Shanghai as well), hotel, business, and financial services” ( COFCO handles domestic brands like Fortune food oils, Great Wall wine, and Le Conte chocolate, but is also the largest handler of Coca-Cola, and was responsible for re-introducing the beverage to the Chinese market back in 1979. In its other ventures, COFCO administrates expensive Gloria hotels within China, and is partnered with British company Aviva to deliver life insurance to Chinese nationals. It is truly a diversified company with such multifaceted branches.

The clash of race and space is most evident when one considers that the Chinese Cultural Center is a piece of American real-estate owned, in-effect, by the Chinese government. Thus its image is one chosen to be representative of China by the state of China. Anderson reminds us that ‘Chinatown’ is less about Chinese occupation, and more about European (or American) imagination; a socially constructed “boundary between ‘their’ territory and ‘our’ territory” for white people (Anderson 583). The website for the center is “,” and the presentation of this ‘exotic’ and ‘ethnic’ space amidst an otherwise devoid (or white) landscape perpetuates the permanent otherization of Chinese and other South Asian demographics. It is a marketing strategy on the part of COFCO which consciously or unconsciously profits from the American racialization of these groups. The choice to present ancient architectural stylings and holidays, authentic cuisine and produce, and traditional medicine are undoubtedly attempts to celebrate Chinese heritage and culture, but in the American landscape, these celebrations have a way of being diminished into caricature vis-à-vis the history of actual Chinatowns within the United States.

- Lucas Marks

Chinese Cultural Center. 2010. 25 April 2011 <>.

COFCO Limited. 25 April 2011 <>.

Anderson, Kay J. “The Idea of Chinatown: The Power of Place and Institutional Practice in the Making of a Racial Category.” Annals of the Association for American Geographers 77.4 (1987): 580-598.

Lindstrom Family Auto Wash

photo by Maxine Miller and Brianna Jones

3003 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix

Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the sheriff’s office raided the family car wash, in June of 2007. They arrested 14 people, 12 of who had false ID’. The car wash was one of many businesses to be raided by Arpaio and the Sheriff’s office. Arpaio’s office is under investigation for allegations of discrimination and unconstitutional searches and seizures by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department. 248 people were arrested in Arpaio raids, only 152 were arrested for having fake papers. In late march and early April of 2008 150 people were arrested by the sheriff, only 73 of them were illegal immigrants, meaning that over half of the people he arrested were completely innocent (MSNBC, 2008). His only defense against that accusation to racial profiling was, “"It isn't racial profiling. We don't arrest just anybody on a street corner" (MSNBC, 2008) However, an American born landscaper saw an Hispanic man pulled over twice, the driver was obviously Hispanic. The landscaper said that it made him really angry because if they pulled him over once and they found he was not illegal and then they pulled him over again. (MSNBC, 2008). Arpaio is clearly using forms of racial profiling and targeting, not only people, but places that seem as if they might employ people in the country illegally. The Sheriffs raids seem to be ineffective at best, “But other tactics appear to be much more effective in identifying illegal immigrants for deportation, and the raids have little, if any effect on actual human smuggling operations or on rates of crime,” (Bolick, 2008). They mayor of Guadalupe, is angered at the Sheriff’s raids in her community. She says that she did not ask for any raids to be done in her community, clamming that the raids were only used to raise Arpaio’s profile for his reelection. Not to mention the danger it puts on the law enforcement officers and citizens of that community, “by failing to coordinate its raids with local police authorities, MCSO places law-enforcement officers and citizens at great risk” (Bolick, 2008). While he may not be braking any laws his is pushing the boundaries of peoples tolerance. One of these people is the mayor of Phoenix, who thinks the Sheriff should be using his time more wisely and focusing on more pressing matters, such as people with arrest warrants out. May court cases have been filed against the sheriff in reaction to his raids, “although Sheriff Arpaio says that he wins the vast majority of court claims that are field against him, he has lost a substantial number of high-profile cases, at great taxpayer expense,” (Bolick, 2008). They mayor has also asked for an investigation to be done concerning the racial profiling accusations against the Sheriff. There is a hint of hypocrisy of the Sheriffs actions ring true in this one quote form Latino protesters “we didn’t cross the border, it crossed us” (Moctezuma, & Davis).

- Maxine Miller and Brianna Jones

Bolick, C. (2008). Mission unaccomplished: h e misplaced priorities of the maricopa county sheri’s oce. Policy report, 229. Retrieved from

MSNBC. (2008, April 25). Sheriff raising furor with immigration raids. Associated Press, Retrieved from

Van Buren Street (Arizona Center for Women)

photo by Brianna Jones and Maxine Miller

32nd Street and Van Buren

Located at 32nd street and Van Buren is a prison called the Arizona Center for Women. The prison opened in 1979 and it can hold up to 250 women. Van Buren Street is known for a lot of prostitution. The location of the Arizona Center for Women couldn’t be better planned. With a prison located in an area that is known for prostitution, a higher amount of prisoners is more plausible. The state is taking advantage of the women in the area because the women are more likely to prostitute because of their poverty. Prisons constitute people that have a suspension of their rights due to certain illegal actions but it can be argued they target certain groups of race and class. Giorgi (2008) found that prisonization is the states way of creating a war against unwanted classes and that the casualties of imprisonment is racially and economically identifiable. The creation of prisons are due to the state, because the state creates the social norms and practices and furthermore what is produced and abolished.  Prisons ascribe an economic functionality and political sovereignty towards the state, and the use of them wouldn’t be possible without the dehumanization of the “criminals”.  The Arizona Center For Women benefits the state because the location of it invites more opportunity for more prisoners due to its poverty and prostitution. Another benefit is in employment, before the prison was built and opened the unemployment rate in Arizona sat around the 4.0 range, in 1982 after the prison was opened the unemployment rate had gone to only 2.0 (Regional economic forecast:, 2008). Prostitution, and Arizona’s Center for Woman are not the only two thing Van Buren street is know for, it is also known to be a dividing line of racial segregation. Just like the Levittown problem after WWII the government started giving national lending programs to veterans. Racial restrictions continued and Van Buren became the dividing line of Phoenix. (Dimas)

- Brianna Jones and Maxine Miller


Dimas, P.R (Performer). American legion post 41 [Television series episode]. In (Executive producer), Arizona Stories. Phoenix: Public Broadcast Service.

Giorgi, D. Alessandro. (2008). Ruth Gilmore, Golden Gulag. Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California. University of California Press, Berkeley. pp. 157-163 doi 10.1007/s10612-008-9051-y x

Regional economic forecast: 'it's going to get uglier before it gets better'. (2008). Informally published manuscript, W.P. Carey School of Business , Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona.

Mill Avenue - Project S.I.T.

photo by Maxine Miller and Brianna Jones
Mill Avenue, Tempe

The City Council banned any sitting or lying down on the sidewalks, especially on Mill Avenue. The law took effect on January 17, 1999, and breaking the law resulted in a misdemeanor and a fine of $500 and or up to 30 days in a jail. Project S.I.T. included a group of students, as well as Randall Amster, that wanted to protest to eventually get rid of the law. Stephen McNamee, A U.S. District judge, gave Project S.I.T. a preliminary ruling that stopped the law being enforced until the court could choose whether the law infringes the right of assembly. For a while citizens could rest on Tempe’s sidewalks but Project S.I.T. anticipated a final decision. Randall Amster, an ASU graduate and justice studies instructor, filled a lawsuit to sue the city in order to have them get rid of the law. After a few sit-in protests, as well as several court appeals, McNamee finally got rid of the law due to the law being unconstitutional
This issue is based on the “white spatial imaginary” that is “… based on exclusivity and augmented exchange value”(Lipsitz, 2007, pp. 13). Exchange value being the central focus to gain a profit from their private owned property.  Mill Avenue is essential an area where a lot of shops are located that can potentially make a profit. The people that wouldn’t be spending money on Mill Avenue would be the ones to rest on Tempe’s walkways.  Project S.I.T. is significant to pedestrian rights because it is an example of how the state wants to surpass a part of the constitution, the right to assemble, in order to weed out citizens that wouldn’t be potential customers. The district court wants to control special boundaries based on socioeconomics. It was ultimately clear to Amster that, “the city was singling out the homeless”. The decision to ban persons from sitting or lying is unconstitutional, and the people of Arizona are all free to occupy Mill Avenue as they please.

- Maxine Miller and Brianna Jones

Diaz, E. (2000). Federal judge strikes down tempe law against sitting on sidewalks. Arlington, VA, United States: Retrieved from

Steckner, S. (2001). Sidewalk sitting ban in tempe will stand. Arlington, VA, United States: Retrieved from

Lipsitz, George. (2007). The Racialization of Space and the Spatialization of Race: Theorizing the Hidden Architecture of Landscape. Landscape Journal. Vol. 26. No. 1 pp. 10-23


Sunnyslope, April 2011 (photo by Nicholas Hester)

E. Hatcher Road. Phoenix Arizona, 85020
Directions:  Head South on Rural, merge onto AZ-202 Loop West, drive 7 miles and merge onto AZ-51, take exit 5 for Glendale Ave and turn left, the turn right onto North 7th St. 

            The city of Sunnyslope has functioned as refuge to sick patients, refuge to Vietnamese and people from all over the world, and in some areas it functions as a 3rd border. 
Sunnyslope, Arizona, is a small community located about 15-20 minutes away from the Tempe area.  The towns name is Sunnyslope; however in 1959 the city was annexed by Phoenix and still kept its name.  Sunnyslope was once known as a health center where the sick coming from other states found comfort in the dry and sunny desert area.  Some sicknesses include asthma, tuberculosis, heart problems, or any other health problem irritated by the colder areas of the US.  Many found the climatic zone of Sunnyslope very effective.  Many sick patients were veterans from World War I and were living on limited pensions.  Sunnyslope was not just attractive to those who were sick; it seemed to be very attractive to those less fortunate who would come to the dry warm desert area to spend much of the winter months.  These people were called squatters (Ellis, 1990).
During the 1930’s, 90% of the apartments and cottages were rentals, meaning that the residents planned on staying in Sunnyslope for a certain period of time, mainly until they got healthy.  This was, however, not the case because once patients did get well, they decided that Arizona was the best fit.  Many of the patients who got better reinvested in home ownership, or went off to invest in businesses in the Phoenix area. 
The Desert Mission was established in 1927 and aimed to uplift the community by constructing a facility that would provide religious, medical, and social tools for people living in the community.  In 1936 there were approximately 600 residents living in Sunnyslope, and it wasn’t until the after World War II that the Sunnyslope community really flourished.  Local businesses began to open, and all levels of schooling up to high school were constructed.  Today, after decades of donations and planning, there stands the John C. Lincoln health network, which is the largest employer of the community.  The health center provides excellent health care and continues the Desert Mission that the Sunnyslope was founded upon(Ellis, 1990). 
In examining Sunnyslope as it is today, I stumbled upon an article referring to the town as “Little Oaxaca”.  The article highlights the community of Sunnyslope’s affordable housing, access to major bus routes, and overall poverty in Oaxaca as primary reasons why Sunnyslope is a suitable residence for new immigrants.  Because there is already such a concentration of Mexicans from Oaxaca, assimilation into the community is much easier.  Many businesses sell Oaxaca based products, most speak with the same native tongue, and new immigrants are often guided towards residences that do not require you to prove citizenship (Wingett, 2007).
In 1975, United States President Gerald Ford signed the Indochina Migration and Refugee Assistance Act, allowing refugees from Cambodia and South Vietnam to enter the United States.  Refugees were brought in and dispersed throughout the country, and Sunnyslope was one of the cities that took in Vietnamese refugees.    Sunnyslope also has a history of taking in refugees from others countries as well; today the elementary school says that their students speak at least forty-three different languages.  
            We decided to pick Sunnyslope because we found it interesting that a city so close to Phoenix had a history of taking in refugees from Vietnam.  We were very surprised to learn that the city had a rich history in healthcare, assimilation, and overall good relations amongst community members.  The first settlers came to Sunnyslope around 1911, when there were a few cottages, and today parts of the community look as good as any new home on the market.  I stumbled upon an article in Green Living AZ, highlighting Sunnyslope as a spotlight in the Phoenix, and here is a quote from that article: “hosting a diverse landscape of architecture, from tuberculosis cabins in the valleys to multi-story contemporary masterpieces in the mountains.”  This description was very true.  When we first drove through the city, we passed very small, yet well kept houses.  Once we progressed to the mountainside, the houses were very large and much more elaborate.  We couldn’t get very close to the nice houses because the areas were gated communities. 
  This most relates to Moctezuma and Davis’s definition of the 3rd Border.  Moctezuma and Davis define the 3rd border as architectural and legal barriers that have been constructed at precisely where blue-collar Chicano or new immigrant communities connect with upper income Anglo communities (Moctezuma and Davis, "Policing the Third Border").  The 3rd border applies to Sunny slope because more expensive housing is gated away from the rest of the Sunnyslope population.
- Nicholas Hester and Nancy Kahn
Works Cited
Sunnyslope: A history of the North Desert Area of Phoenix, by Edna Ellis, 1990. 
Sunnyslope is ‘Little Oaxaca. Yvonne Wingett.  Mar. 26, 2007. Local, Nation/World
Sunnyslope is the Spotlight of Modern Phoenix Week
By David M. Brown.  Green Living AZ.
Moctezuma and Davis, "Policing the Third Border"

Food City

Food City, April 2011 (photo by Nicholas Hester)

1338 East Apache, Tempe, AZ
Directions from ASU:  Drive north on Rural, take a left at Apache and drive 1 mile
Food City is a local grocery store much like any other store where a person could get food, cleaning supplies, or piñatas. The one difference is Food City is the target of ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The center of ICE has complied a list of attributes to go off of if they think a person is illegal except “the categories are necessarily subjective”. (Rivera) Food City offers a different type of food, aimed more towards Hispanics, this is the reason is it targeted. Illegal Mexican immigrants are thought of to shop at Food City than a Safeway or a Fresh and Easy. ICE has received a lot of flack for their racist antics against Food City shoppers.
Racism is defined by “hatred or intolerance of another race or races.” ( It is easy to see why ICE has been called racist due to their lock down on Hispanics shopping at Food City. If a Caucasian were walking out of the grocery store, they probably would not be stopped and asked if they are here illegally from Canada or Europe. “Indeed, the actual erosion of traditional categorical racism, state driven or not, may intensify rather than ameliorate colorism.” (Glenn) Judging a person by their skin color is something America has become accustom to which is why ICE has been spotted at Food City so much. They are stereotyping every person that shops at Food City to be an illegal immigrant opposed to looking at any other grocery store in the Maricopa County.
When a race is ‘picked on’ like Mexicans are the main focus of ICE at Food City, people start noticing and taking offense. When there are enough people that have been offended, they take a stand. For example, when American Private First Class Felix Longoria had “earned a Bronze Service Star, a Purple Heart, a Good Conduct Medal, and a Combat Infantryman's badge for service in the Philippines during World War II”, (Carroll) did not receive a proper burial at first because the whites would not approve, Mexican Americans took a stand. What would happen if Mexican Americans in Maricopa County took a stand against ICE?

- Nancy Kahn and Nicholas Hester

Van Buren Street

Van Buren mural and graffiti, April 2011 (photo by Nicholas Hester)

East Van Buren Street, Phoenix, Arizona

Directions from ASU, Tempe Campus: Head South on Rural, take a left onto East Rio Salado Pkwy, take the second right onto North Mill Ave, then continue onto East Van Buren St. 

Our group chose to research Van Buren Street because we had both driven down it so many times, and were very interested in what history we could find.  While researching the history of the street, I came across an article that talked about Van Buren’s glorious past in comparison to the way it is seen today. Van Buren was originally a rural road known as Route 60 that ran between Phoenix and the village of Tempe.  In the 1920’s, nightclubs and motor lodges made the street a main attraction.  In the 50’s Van Buren continued to flourish as it was home to Arizona’s first drive-in movie theater.  Some interesting facts about the road were that it is home to Phoenix’s oldest cemetery, the first zoo, and it was the first Insane Asylum of Arizona.  The street also gave birth to the Miranda Rights.  Ernesto Miranda was a laborer who was convicted of rape and kidnapping; however he was let go because the Supreme Court ruled that criminal subjects must be informed of their rights prior to questioning by police.  

Van Buren’s glorious past is countered by its history of segregation.  ­Los Veteranos of World War II: A Mission for Social Change is an excellent film by Pete Dimas that sheds light on the inequalities that took place on Van Buren.   In 1891 and 1905 the Salt River flooded, and as a result, segregation was instituted in Phoenix north of Van Buren Street up to Washington.  This segregation, backed by real estate covenants, excluded non-whites, including Mexicans, blacks, Asians, and Native Americans, from living in the same neighborhoods as whites.   In 1941 the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and a mandatory draft was initiated.  Post 41 was a Mexican American legion from Phoenix that served in the war, earning multiple honors and prestige.  After serving in the war, they came home to Phoenix in hopes of making a positive change in their community, which was still segregated.  Post 41 became activists in their communities and found it astonishing that they had gone to war for their country; however things at home were just the same as when they left.  There was still redlining, and banks continued to refused to grant loans to non-whites.  Post 41 organized and fought various injustices within the community.  The first case happened in Tempe: the only public pool in the area did not allow Hispanics to swim; Post 41 was successful in integrating the Tempe pool system.  The second was a federally funded housing project for Veterans, denying Hispanics access to these new residences.  Post 41 argued, “We fought alongside you, why can’t we live next to you”.  The council made the argument that if they were to move Mexicans in there would be raping’s, drugs, and violence.  Eventually Post 41 was successful in integrating the Veteran housing as well.  Post 41 was also successful in ending discrimination against Mexicans at a construction site that stated it would refuse business to Mexicans once they had opened.  The building was funded by an FHA loan, making it illegal to discriminate.  After threatening to sue, the owner decided to change his policies and offered assistance to customers regardless of background.

Connecting the history of Van Buren’s segregation, I think that it most relates to Lipsitz concept of the ideal pure American space.  Lipsitz argues that in order to have the ideal pure American space, impure populations had to be removed.  The flooding of the Salt River hurt property values in the valley, and segregation allowed whites to have a pure space that would not be affected by flooding in the future.
In observing Van Buren Street I decided that it would be best to drive up and down the street taking notes on what I saw.  Businesses and financial companies primarily occupied the North side of the street.  Once I drove under the freeway overpass I saw dramatic differences.  On every block there was a motel offering cheap room rentals, many different car dealerships, and also several different lots that sold rims for cars.   I also saw several liquor stores and gas stations. One correlation that I did make was the connection between social class and space.  By observing the types of people I saw walking the streets, I primarily observed people of a lower socio-economic status walking the streets once I went through the overpass.  Three images stuck out in my head:  The first was the image of an elderly man wheeling himself in his wheelchair, and the second was a single mother with two children in her arms.  The last image was a small park plaza, where around 30 elderly people were simply sitting in the sun.  

- Nicholas Hester and Nancy Kahn


1966 - Miranda v. Arizona, Lewis and Roca Law Firm, Retrieved June 5, 2008

Los Veteranos of World War II by Pete R. Dimas, 2007,Braun Sacred Heart Center, Inc.

Mexican Imports

Mexican Imports on Brown Avenue in Old Town Scottsdale. J. Chew was the original owner of the store (photo by Susan Haslett, April 2011).

Brown Avenue and Main Street, Scottsdale

In Old Town Scottsdale, a famous corner store called Mexican Imports stands on Brown Avenue and Main Street, just off of the main drag on Scottsdale Road. The building is bright red, and in between the words “Mexican Imports” is the picture of a Mexican man in a sombrero with a long mustache and a cigar in his mouth, an old stereotypical portrait that in the past depicted a Mexican man as potentially violent and prone to criminal behavior.  In the window front on the right statues of saints were displayed. On the left were smaller knick-knacks, some of which were guitars, maracas and small figurines that looked to be made from terra cotta and painted with bright colors.

Interesting about this site, is how it stood out from its surrounding shops that seemed to employ more muted appearances, using more pastel shades. Also, there was a map on the sidewalk across the street from the store, where it was labeled as a historic site, though no plaque describing its history could be found on the store, whereas two other sites facing Mexican Imports had plaques.  Due to a lack for research done on the store, it may mean that the store while interesting, has had little historical impact on the city other than its longevity. What was displayed, however, were various newspaper cutouts describing the origins of the store. Striking was discovering the owners -- they are Chinese and the store has been passed down generations by the Song family since it opened in the 1920, first as a grocery store until the 1950s when they transformed the store as a Mexican Imports store.  Chinese immigrants have been present in much of Arizona’s history, much like many minorities, Chinese were forced to cope with discrimination amongst whites and seen as outsiders. Through the time of the Chinese Exclusion Act, Chinese immigrants would fight deportation proceedings and anti-Chinese groups within Arizona.  The highest concentration of Chinese was located in Prescott, Arizona up until the early 1900s, as many Chinese owned businesses in Yavapai County. Throughout the state Chinese Americans and Chinese immigrants owned diners, laundry stores and grocery stores.  The Mexican Import store is an example of the business impact Chinese people has had in Arizona.

- Susie Haslett, Elenia Sotelo, and Tomas Robles
Society, Scottsdale Historical. "Historic Walking Tour." n.d. (accessed April 25th, 2011).
Tintle, Rhonda. "A History of Chinese Immigration into Arizona Territory." California State University Los Angeles, 2004: 99.

Luke Air Force Base

Luke Air Force Base Air Show, March 2011 (photo by Elenia Sotelo)
Luke Air Force Base Air Show, March 2011 (photo by Elenia Sotelo)

Northern Avenue and Litchfield Road, Glendale, AZ

Located at the corner of Northern Avenue and Litchfield Road in Glendale, Arizona, for over 70 years Luke Air Force base has been an integral part of the west valley in Phoenix, AZ.  Located at the outskirts of Glendale, Arizona, Luke AFB began its construction in 1941 after Army engineering scouts visited the west valley of Phoenix and leased the land from the state government at one dollar a year beginning in March 24th, 1944, a common practice in Arizona trust land.  Since its inception Luke AFB has provided some economic stability to neighboring cities.  In 2008, state official conducted a study of Luke AFB and the military industry and the economic effect on the state.  It was reported that Luke AFB generates upwards of 9 billion dollars annually.  Though not without its share of controversy, Luke AFB has been a staple in Arizona’s history.
Luke AFB was named after Lieutenant Frank Luke Jr, a white World War I pilot. Frank Luke was a Medal of Honor recipient that flew various missions during World War One.  Nicknamed the “Arizona Balloon Buster,” Lt. Luke scored 18 aerial victories against German troops, 14 of those German observation balloons.  During a mission in Germany, Lt. Luke’s plane was shot down, and was killed at age 21.  The first class of fighter pilots began on June 6th, 1941 with Captain Barry Goldwater serving as commander.  Today, Luke AFB sits between Glendale and El Mirage, Arizona and is the main training sites of the military F-16 fighter jet.  The training location also helped the integration of pilots during World War 2 when Tuskegee Airmen relocated to Arizona along with other white pilots for training.  Tuskeegee pilots have had their own history of equality as before the Tuskegge Airmen were formed, black men were considered not brave or intelligent enough to be successful pilots.  The Tuskegee Airmen would be awarded hundreds of military awards and medals such as:  150 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 8 Purple Hearts, 14 Bronze Stars, one Silver Star and one Legion of Merit. Another significant achievement by the Tuskegee Airmen is that they never lost a single plane to enemy fire.
Luke Air Force base was also home to a Tuskegee Airman that would become a significant Arizona civil rights leader.  Lincoln Ragsdale was a Tuskegee Airman who, along with his wife Eleanor, ended housing segregation in the Phoenix Encanto district. Together with other prominent black and Mexican-American leaders, the Ragsdales were integral in bringing civil rights laws to Arizona, brought political power to ethnic minorities within Arizona and helped promote unity between blacks and Hispanics at the time of racial tension in Arizona.  The history with civil rights and Tuskegee Airmen came full circle with the honoring of the Tuskegee Airmen in 2006.  The week-long ceremony concluded with awarding the fighter pilot group with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor a US civilian can attain. An Air Park was dedicated to the pilots, although the location could not be found on the Luke Air Force base website; five of the Tuskegee Airmen still live in Arizona today.
Today Luke Air Force base has drawn criticism from a neighboring city called El Mirage. Although for most of Arizona, Luke AFB has been a positive,the nearby city of El Mirage had found living today with the base difficult.  Built by Mexican farm workers in 1934, and becoming a city in 1951, El Mirage has suffered the most from noise pollution brought on by the  F-16 jets.  Although Glendale, AZ receives payment from the base for the noise, El Mirage receives none, this is mainly due to El Mirage’s refusal to accept payment.  Due to the size and training need that Luke Air Force base occupies, El Mirage is also heavily restricted from building and expanding their city. 
- Tomas Robles, Elenia Sotelo, and Susie Haslett

Sommers, Willie. Arizona's State Trust. n.d. (accessed April 25th, 2011). Tuskegee Airmen. n.d. (accessed April 25th, 2011).


Garfield District

Map with historic Garfield District highlighted (Source: City of Phoenix

Site of what was originally the First Missionary Church, April 2011 (photo by Susan Haslett)

Bounded by Van Buren Street, Roosevelt, 16th St, and 7th St

 The Garfield District in Phoenix and other cities in Maricopa Country have historically attributed the settlement of these cities to Anglo settlers. This historic neighborhood spans from as far south as Van Buren Street to as far north as Roosevelt, as far east as 16th Street and as far west as 7th Street. Whereas Tucson readily recognizes its contributions made by Mexican settlers, it appears that the Mexican contribution to Phoenix is largely missing (Oberle 2008). It  appears, then, that the Anglo community in Phoenix had a vested interest in establishing hegemony, as defined by Antonio Gramsci (Omi, 1994). The Garfield District, however, paints a different picture.

Upon visiting the Garfield District, on the northeast corner of 9th Street and McKinley is a church, built in 1928 and first home First Missionary Church. Only a couple houses down is the fifth oldest house in Phoenix, considerably larger than the houses surrounding it. These, among several others in the Garfield District are considered historical buildings in Phoenix and are protected, meaning they are sanctioned from demolition, as well as having any structural changes made to them, in an effort to preserve what remains as part of the original Phoenix settlement.

Walking east on Roosevelt, past 11th Street is a newly painted mural. This mural depicts themes of what appears to be Mexican indigenismo, a call back to the indigenous roots of Mexicans, illustrated where Mexican natives are seen dancing and native symbols painted. In addition, there are prominent figures, such as Cesar Chavez, Martin Luther King, Jr., and a more local figure known in the Mexican immigrant community, Salvador Reza, who is a leader of the Puente Movement. There is also an image of a wall where many multi-colored (as in the colors of the rainbow) people seem to either be trying to knock the wall down or put it up. On the other side of the wall, there are only two people, one orange, the other red, trying to resist the force of the many. Further down is a girl in a cap and gown in front of a blazing logo of the City of Phoenix, and to the right of it, a paletero (popsicle man) and a complete family. The vibrant colors incorporated into this mural help to send the message of a reinvigoration in this community, which is largely Latino, and rings truest to immigrants in this community. It seems apparent that the muralist highlighted, also, the value placed on family and education, amidst a pride for Phoenix. In otherwords, they are recreating their own space, trying to rebuild it as one that undoes the Anglo racialization of space, and implanting one that reflects pride for Mexican culture. Whether or not the community as a whole fully embraces these themes depicted, this is just one part of an effort to help instill a sense of pride among a particular group of people, as well as encouraging this group of people to adopt these values as their own, as is traditional of Mexican muralists such as Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros (Goldman, 1982). 

- Susie Haslett, Tomas Robles, and Elenia Sotelo


Goldman, Shifra M. Mexican Muralism: Its Socio-Educative Roles in Latin America and the United States. Aztlan. Vol. 13. 1982. 111-33. Print.
Oberle, A. P. "RESURGENT MEXICAN PHOENIX*." Geographical Review 98, no. 2 (2008): 171.
Omi, Michael and Howard Winant, Racial Formation in the United States (New York: Routledge, 1994): pg 65-67.

Desert Sky Mall

Desert Sky Mall, April 2011 (photos by Elenia Sotelo)

Southeast corner of 75th Ave and Thomas Road, west Phoenix

Desert Sky Mall, a popular west valley mall celebrated its 30 year anniversary this year. The mall is currently open 7 days a week, with various hours to accommodate its many shoppers. Although it’s been open for three decades, this mall has undergone many changes thorough the years. One change has been the name of the mall which originally was Westridge Mall then later became Desert Sky. It is important to note that the surrounding neighborhood demographics have essentially led to an increase in Hispanic-oriented merchandise to be sold in the mall (Jarman, 2010).
As several photographs illustrate, the tenants above all have a Spanish name as their store name. They range from La Curacao, which is a Latino import store, Cinema Latino where Spanish language movies are played, and the mall’s newest addition, Mercado de Los Cielos. These changes began in the late 1990’s early 2000’s to correlate with the growing Hispanic population in Phoenix and provide them a “Hispanic marketplace” (Jarman, 2010). The sole owner of Desert Sky mall is the company Westcor; which manages 20 shopping centers in Arizona, including Desert Sky. Interestingly enough, Desert Sky mall is the only shopping center that has their website translated to Spanish with a link located on the Westcor directory (Westcor 2011).
The significance of this mall is the indication of the power of community demographics to the type of services and products that are delivered or available to the community. As the community demographics shifted, so did the mall tenants (Jarman, 2010). The differential access to these goods are based on what the community demands and/or the merchants’ beliefs of what the community will want. The shopping center has also recently expanded their Sunday hours now also making it the only Westcor mall open until 8:00pm (DesertSkyMall, 2011). It would be interesting to keep a close watch to see the type of tenants that continue to move in and out of this shopping center.
- Susie Haslett, Elenia Sotelo, and Tomas Robles
Desert Sky Mall. 2011. Location and Hours. Westcore 2001-2011.
Jarman, Max. 2010. Phoenix Desert Sky Mall planning Mercado. The Arizona Republic. Retrieved April 2011.
Westcor 2011. Find a Westcor Center. The Macerich Company.