It is important for non-immigrants, especially white non-immigrants, to show up as aspiring allies and put ourselves on the line. Since the first European colonizers set foot on this continent, children have been torn from their parents. It is not new but that does not mean we can accept it. It needs to end now!
It was uplifting to see such a huge turnout this past weekend at the Keep Families Together protests in Vermont and nationwide. My hope now is that everyone who came out last weekend, or who was inspired by the actions, will find a way to continue their involvement.
This resistance and these movements need to be sustained by people who not only come to protests but also write letters, vote, work on campaigns, volunteer, educate themselves and others, sign petitions, donate money, run for office, and then do it all again. Everyone can do something and we need everyone on board now.
I encourage people to find your passion – be it ending war, food justice, climate justice, economic justice, racial justice – and dig in. If immigrant rights is your passion, I recommend you check out the Catalyst Project out of San Francisco. They are a great resource and co-created this curriculum on immigrant rights to support non-immigrants and especially white people to gain a deeper understanding and be accountable in their work to support Immigrant Justice. (On Monday, July 9, they have a webinar on utilizing their curriculum, and the Peace & Justice Center will be participating. Please be in touch if you’d like to work with us on it.)
I implore you, for the sake of the children in detention centers, for the black and brown people terrorized by our policing and criminal justice systems, for the Indigenous of this land who continue to have their land desecrated and their rights diminished, for all future generations, for our collective liberation, dig in and continue to build our resistance.
Everyone I know feels despondent at times. It’s impossible not to in the face of the monstrosities occurring around us and with our tax dollars. When you feel like your actions do not make a difference, when you are discouraged and exhausted, take a break to recharge. Remind yourself that all nonviolent movements succeed because of the small actions of many people. (For more information on that, please check out Erica Chenoweth and Maria J Stephan‘s book “Why Civil Resistance Work.” You can also see Dr Chenoweth’s TedX Talk on the same.) Find loving companionship, spirit, creativity – whatever it is that feeds you. And then get back to work as soon as you are able.
The people who are locked up and separated from their kids or parents do not get a break. You will help them most when you are at your best. We will never do this work perfectly but we do need to keep at it. Our issues all intersect and we need to continue to support one another for the long haul.
Rachel Siegel, PJC Executive Director