The Department of Economic Security, November 2011, Photo by Nathan Kryn.
Image of the Parking Lot where Noor Almaleki was run down,
Phoenix New Times, April 2010
This particular DES office is significant for two reasons. The DES is responsible for distributing EBT and food related social welfare goods. Although social welfare programs such as food stamps may be adept at preventing malnutrition, they have become increasingly racialized through both political and social discourse (Marchevsky and Theoharis, 2010). This site was also the location of murder and alleged ‘honor killing’ of Noor Almaleki by her father Faleh Almaleki. Honor killings have been widely debated, and critics of the ruling argued 2nd degree murder wasn’t strong enough of a sentence.
One significant function of the DES is to distribute social welfare such as food programs like EBT. Social Welfare programs have historically served as a safety net for societies most vulnerable (Marchevsky and Theoharis, 2010). Detractors say social welfare breeds a culture of poverty and a pathology of dependence. However, Marchevsky and Theoharis argue that arguments that appeal to an underclass work on age-old stereotypes of black or Latino men and women as lazy or sexually promiscuous. Rather than addressing whether or not the basic structure of the economy was responsible for poverty and unemployment, especially among minorities, the 1996 passing of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act endorsed the idea that the workers, not the system, were broken. The result was a more stigmatized and more racialized form of social welfare, in which workers could show no selectivity in job acceptance, and work problems didn’t ensure jobs training (Marchevsky and Theoharis, 2010).
In 2009, Faleh Almaleki ran down his daughter in the parking lot of the Peoria DES. A judge convicted Almaleki of 2nd degree murder, despite prosecutors seeking 1st degree for the alleged honor killing. Judge Roland Steine, however, did not agree, arguing in his ruling that it was a selfish crime of passion (Azcentral.com, February 2011). Judge Steine argued that ruling it a 1st degree honor killing would racially stigmatize what was a domestic crime of passion. Gerald Caplan explains that domestic killings and honor killings both have their root in male possessiveness and entitlement. Statistically, he argues, we don’t see a rising epidemic of violence. Ruling honor killings a distinct category would place too much undue emphasis on race, while actually undermining multiculturalist ideas (Wiseman, 2010).
- Nathan Kryn
Halverstadt, L. “Glendale man gets 34 1/2 years in prison in honor killing case.” April 16, 2010. Azcentral.com.
Marcehvsky and Theoharis. “Welfare reform, globalization, and the racialization of entitlement.” American Studies 41: Summer/Fall 2000.
Wiseman, R. “Honor Killings Debate”. Prepared for the “Gender, Culture and Religion: Tackling some difficult questions” Symposium, October 1 - 2, 2010. Chumir Ethics Foundation.