Rumpled and occasionally gruff, Salvador Reza resembles at first glance some eccentric Chicano-studies professor, and if you let him, he can lecture with the best of them on the plight of indigenous peoples in the Americas. But Reza ain't no academic, unless you count his college as the struggle in the streets against the harassment and discrimination of undocumented workers. There he teaches regularly, usually with a bullhorn, all while going head-to-head with Sheriff Joe Arpaio, assorted Minutemen, and various other nativist numbskulls. Reza runs the Macehualli Work Center in north Phoenix, where he provides a place where jornaleros, or day laborers, can hook up with employers seeking short-term help.
The word macehualli means "those who deserve honor for their work," in Nahuatl, the language of the ancient Aztecs. And it is just that kind of honor and respect that Reza fights for regularly in civil rights marches, protests, and in speeches demanding same before the Legislature and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. Because he is both unafraid and unrelenting, Reza has become the man redneck nativists most love to hate. Hey, as far as we're concerned, you judge a man by his enemies. And if the toothless, ignorant KKK-wanna-bes spend every waking moment cursing Sal Reza, then you know he's doing something right. Keep doing your thing, Sal.