I’ve gone for months without writing anything in this blog. So much has happened, and much of what has happened is so horrible that it’s hard to find the words to describe it. And most of the horrible things that are happening are happening to people of color.
Every day one sees on the news that yet another unarmed Black person has been shot and killed by police. Or there are stories about Native American and Black women all over the country who have gone missing, and nobody’s asking why.
White hate groups are increasing their presence in the U.S. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights and watchdog organization, says such groups grew by 30% in the last four years. There are 1,000 hate groups.
And now within this atmosphere of escalating racism and hate, is a U.S. immigration policy that takes migrants fleeing gang and government violence in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala to obtain asylum in here, and confines them in detention camps’ wire cages. The migrants are denied basic amenities like healthy food, soap, tooth brushes and toothpaste. Toddlers are going for days without a diaper change. Some of the children are reportedly being, or have been, sexually assaulted by the immigration guards at the camps. Children who have been forcibly separated from their parents are trying to play the role of parents and look after their younger brothers and sisters. There have been deaths among the migrants, some of whom had chronic conditions and were prevented from obtaining their medication which could have kept them alive.
Where is OUR outrage? We who are Black know what it’s like to be treated like less than animals. Why aren’t WE in the streets? How can those of us who are parents look at the face of the child in the photograph and not feel anger and compassion?
And more immigrants are coming from African countries, desperate to escape political violence in Cameroon, The Republic of Congo, The Democratic Republic of Congo, and Angola. They travel to Central America and wait at the U.S.-Mexico border in the hope that they will obtain an asylum hearing.
What can WE do about this? Maybe it’s time to take a page from protests past. In the early 1980s, The Free South Africa Movement in Washington, D.C., which was led by Black folks, set up a picket line very close to the South African Embassy every day, rain or shine, to protest the South African system of apartheid, or forced separation of the races. A designated number of demonstrators would walk up the front steps of the South African Embassy and stand in front of its door, where they were promptly arrested. The process was repeated every day, and each day the kinds of groups picketing and being arrested differed. Teachers. Doctors. Lawyers. Students. Mothers. Fathers. Unions. Local government workers.
The demonstrators demanded that the U.S. change its policy on South Africa, and impose economic sanctions in an effort to force it to end apartheid and institute all-races elections in which everyone there could vote in national and local elections, whatever their race. The protests worked, the U.S. imposed economic sanctions, and not long after that apartheid ended.
Maybe something similar could be undertaken here to radically change the U.S. immigration system. The reason it might work is that in #45 we have an un-president who hates bad, unfavorable, unflattering publicity. HATES it. What if daily and nightly protests generated so much negative local, national and international publicity that even his own party would plead with him to hire more immigration judges to eliminate the backlog of immigration and asylum cases, increase and expedite immigration and asylum hearings, and in the meantime provide shelter for the immigrants that didn’t involve cages and filth?
If anyone has a better idea, please come on with it. All I know is that we can’t sit and watch what’s happening from the sidelines anymore. ESPECIALLY not US.The face of that child behind the wire tells me, and one hopes, you, that simply watching what’s happening is not an option.