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Posts Tagged ‘United States’

Undocumented, Unafraid, and Unapologetic

March 14, 2012 1 comment

As many (or some) of you know, I write quite a bit on immigration and how it pertains to the political and national narrative in this country.  Recently, I published a piece on the media’s use of the term “illegal” and how it affects the national debate.  Overtime, I’ve also attempted to make the case for the DREAM Act and why it is so important, not only to the young undocumented people who will benefit, but for the nation as a whole.  In retrospect, it’s been a good run.  Stories have been shared, stats have been presented, all in an effort to give a compelling yet not too biased account of what I think about the issue.

However, none of it has prepared me for this week.  A week that can shift the dialogue within the immigration debate in 2012, especially during this election year.

This week, thousands of youth across the country will be coming out as “undocumented” during Coming Out Week of Action.  For months, activists have been preparing for this major campaign, providing an atmosphere and a safe platform for youth all across the country.  It’s an opportunity to “come out” as undocumented, unafraid and unapologetic.

Recently, I had the incredible honor of meeting a few of these individuals in Washington, DC and while the campaign seems scary and risky, it’s necessary.  For over ten years now, immigrant activists have been heavily involved in the debate, attempting to fully engage the public and Congress on finding humane solutions to a broken immigration system.  While there have been some instances where it looked like we’d see some success, something incredibly disappointing occurs (like Congressional gridlock) and the road to some kind of reform collapses.

Undocumented immigrants coming out this week know that time is running out for them and millions of others.  Congress and the President of the United States have not and may not prioritize the issue again this year, moving along with a very little sense of urgency.  With no solution at the federal level, states are taking every effort to victimize undocumented immigrants, who are enduring a maddening game of tug of war, gone utterly wrong.  Just when you think the right thing is going to be done and reform looks promising, the other side yanks hope away, leaving activists with mud on their faces.

The harshest opponents to immigration reform are becoming much more critical these

Picture by Emma Hernandez Courtesy of Walk Against Fear Facebook Page

days and are taking those who were once sympathetic, with them.  All across the country, state houses have seen an increasing number of anti-immigration legislation introduced and in some places, have gone so far as to signing them into law.  States like Arizona, Mississippi and Alabama have shown that no immigrant is welcomed…but more importantly, persons of color are seen as outsiders in their own communities.

Alabama’s infamous and the nation’s strictest anti-immigrant law, passed last summer in the state legislature.  The Alabama law not only gave law enforcement the right to “verify a person’s immigration status during routine traffic stops and/or arrests, if “a reasonable suspicion” exists that the person is in the country illegally” but it has also created a temperament of fear all across the state and throughout the deep South.  

On Sunday, a group of young immigrant activists, many of whom are undocumented, set forth on a 200+ walk from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi.  The Walk Against Fear, which brings awareness to civil rights violations immigrants suffer today due to anti-immigrant laws, is a march that is attempting to also capture the same resilience Civil Rights leaders had when they too made the journey. James Meredith, a Civil Rights activist and the first African American admitted into the University of Mississippi during segregation, was part of that march 50 years ago.  In the next few weeks, these activists will be confronted with the same objections Mr. Meredith faced during his time and risking their lives to end racism.  Gaining civil rights for all is not easy, the Civil Rights movement proved that.  Activists like Ingrid Cruz and Patricio Gonzalez, understand this as they walk towards Jackson today.  They too can no longer wait.

People around the country argue that perhaps when we discuss the issue of immigration reform, we should not focus too much on the human side of things and instead debate the issue objectively.  (I’ve never understood this concept, but whatever.)

Al Rojo Vivo con Maria Celeste reportaje - 389 Miles "Living the Border"

However, if we want to look at this thing “objectively” then it is necessary to take an hour of your time today and watch the film, 389 Miles: Living the Border by my friend LuisCarlos Davis. In this brilliant film, LuisCarlos depicts life along the Arizona/Sonora border, exposing the true stories of those living on both sides of the border, learning about the actors who risk their lives every day, facing human predators and dangerous terrain, to only succumb to defenders of a broken system.

You cannot help but carefully listen to both sides of the story and not be sympathetic.  As an incredibly passionate supporter of the plight of the immigrant community,  I was once again taken aback by the resiliency many have when crossing into the unknown.  All the while I could not help but also feel utter outrage towards our society and our unwillingness to look beyond color and focus on the true nature of what brings people here.  LuisCarlos film captures the angst on both sides, showing that even after years of debating this issue, people still do not have the answers.

This week provides us all with an opportunity to learn and fully understand why immigrants come here and why they fight to stay.  Those individuals coming out of the shadows all across the country, activists Ingrid Cruz and Patricio Gonzales marching on to Jackson to fight racism, and LuisCarlos who took the risk of making and sharing his film to the world, are people who can no longer wait for government to find the solution.

Let us remember that as this young generation of activists move forward to share their own personal stories, they carry with them the stories of 12 million human beings still too scared to share theirs.

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Planned Parenthood, Socialism, Fat People, Oh my!

Normally, I get my inspiration to write from information or news I read online.  Other times, I am inspired by some of the

Little Texas

conversations I am a participant of or overhear something crazy from some random person at the restaurant or bar.  Yesterday I went to  lunch with my sister and my parents.  While we chatted and ate our food, two couples of Senior’s were seated in a booth right behind us.  Not to be nosey, but I could not help but overhear the conversation between these four individuals.

I need to give you a quick update on where I actually spend most of my days.  I live in southeast New Mexico and for the most part, it is the most conservative region in the state.  If you study New Mexico politics, you will learn that this area of the state is called, “Little Texas.” Simply put, it is an area rich in oil, little men who drive around in large pick-up trucks and girls like me are looked down upon for their “hippie” politics.  One reason why this region is so conservative (other than the oil conglomerates) is because it a place where many retiree’s come to settle.  Fortunately for me though, this conservative demographic is gradually losing its strength in numbers and I am beginning to see an increase in faces that look my age and people with the complexion I should probably have if I stopped wearing cardigans in the summer.  

Back to lunch…

These four individuals were discussing issues related to health care reform and the ongoing debate taking place throughout the country, on this one year anniversary of #HCR passage.  The way I heard the discussion was how I envision the Tea Party discussing the overall issue, with death panel fear behind each and every spoken word.  They discussed the direction President Obama had taken on the debate and their belief that health care should not have been passed because it is not the government’s responsibility to take care of the matter.  Instead, we should blame all our health care problems on fat people. (cough, cough)

Me being awesome!

I am going to go out on a limb here and say that I do not fit the description of a super model.  Yes, I could use to lose weight and perhaps exercising should be the first goal in doing so, but hearing these couples look down on others and not looking at the underlying reasons as to why we really need health care for all, made me think that the Republican Party and those on the conservative side supporting the Tea Party, are really out of touch with reality and definitely on the wrong side of history.

I can see the frustration people have with heavy people (talk to my sister, the exercise fanatic)  But rather then just blaming “fat people” for all our problems, why not look at the overall picture?  If you identify those with the greatest weight issues across the board, studies show that communities of color, primarily those in low income communities, have a higher percentage of obesity because they lack access to services or resources then those in affluent communities.  When you look at low-income communities you will find more fast food eateries and liquor stores at every street corner, and very few grocery stores with fresh produce creating this phenomenon we call, “food deserts.”

Let me give you a visual.  I lived in Los Angeles for five years and 2.5 of those years, I lived in East Los Angeles, in a neighborhood called Boyle Heights.  Going to the grocery store in Boyle Heights was always a chore and I dreaded the day I needed to go because the lines were always dreadfully, long.  The vegetables and fruit were never of good quality and most if not all the time, I had to get into my car and drive to Silver Lake and shop at Trader Joe’s in order to get what I really needed.  I never had problems finding good produce there.  The thing is though, I could get in my car and drive to Trader Joe’s.  For families living in Boyle Heights, where poverty is high and public transportation is unreliable, options for traveling up Sunset Blvd and on to Hyperion to grab some fresh produce is never an option.  Furthermore, the country faces an epidemic of lacking preventive health care, where  it is almost non-existent in many communities of color.  What is even more scary is the fact that organizations like Planned Parenthood, (currently being targeted by GOP) an entity doing so much for women’s health, is now

"I stand with Planned Parenthood!"

under attack.  For agencies providing services to the poor.  If the Republican Party has it’s way, Planned Parenthood could be forced to stop providing preventive exams, prenatal care and disiminating information to countless women all over the country.  Instead of focusing on these groups and cutting real pork (like the Defense budget) Republican’s are attacking a woman’s chance of living.

Looking back and dissecting in my head the conversation held by those two couples yesterday makes me so angry because there are thousands if not millions of people in this country, blaming certain groups for the ills of this country.  Although it is easy to find a target and use them as a scapegoat to make a point, the overall picture is ignored and we  never accomplish anything when we ignore the root of the problem.  Why not really look at the issue, like “food deserts,” for example, or supporting the First Lady, Michelle Obama in improving school lunches for children?  We should work to improve the overall access of health care for all, rather than limiting it to just a few and letting those few judge the rest of us for not having the privilege to afford health insurance.  Yes, we should work to improve our health and take personal responsibility for our own progress, but we should not ignore the millions of people who have no access to the resources that could help them make better choices.  When we find solutions to those issues, then the idea of universal health care for all will not sound as scary as the Republican’s have made it out to be.

Libya…now what?

March 29, 2011 1 comment

 

President Barack Obama

“In such cases, we should not be afraid to act — but the burden of action should not be America’s alone.  Because contrary to the claims of some, American leadership is not simply a matter of going it alone and bearing all of the burden ourselves. Real leadership creates the conditions and coalitions for others to step up as well; to work with allies and partners so that they bear their share of the burden and pay their share of the costs; and to see that the principles of justice and human dignity are upheld by all.”

President Obama’s speech to the nation regarding the decision to go into Libya last week.

I find it difficult to reach a level of certainty on anything surrounding the debate over Libya and United States intervention when I feel like there really is no right answer.  We have two schools of thought on this issue.  The first, are those on the Left and some on the Right (the latter providing very little factual information other than to obstruct) who say we should not have gone in and used any kind of force towards Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.  This mindset is “United States, a democratic country, going into a Muslim region (again), and dictating once again our philosophy towards a presently chaotic, highly political region like the Middle East.”  Then there is the second school of thought, where morality comes into question and we find ourselves feeling obligated to help prevent the extermination of a people from a terrible dictator.

I was and continue to stand against the Bush doctrine and the lies it created in an effort to start an unnecessary war in Iraq.  The reason I supported candidate Obama in 2007/2008 was because I, like many others, were in encouraged to see a candidate, finally oppose the actions taken in the Middle East.  This all meant something to those of us, who have always been against the Iraq war, or any war for that matter, made up of lies with a foundation bordering manifest destiny.

When it comes to foreign affairs and international conflict, President Obama and I are not always

Protests in Libya

on the same page.  For one, I did not support his stance on sending additional troops to Afghanistan.  I was actually in tears the day he stood at West Point in December, 2009 informing us of this decision.  Despite all of this, I do have to say that I am aligned with those who found it necessary to support his decision to go to Libya.  I do believe that those facing the wrath of Qaddafi and his army were in dire straights all the while there are those who oppose the President’s decision, and are adamant about showing their growing disappointment on this issue.  While I do accept the criticisms from the other side and perhaps find those arguments justifiable, I also find it disheartening to see those against this decision provide no solution or alternative.  I get that there is this issue of “Why Libya and not Yemen?”  I get all those arguments, I do.  I guess I am unable say why a “one over the other” debate matters.

I was upset this evening because my DVR did not record the Rachel Maddow Show, so I am a bit cranky.  However, I did catch the segment where Dr. Maddow points out the speech given by President Obama accepting his Nobel Peace Prize, and comparing his commitment to follow a process when faced with international challenges, to his speech tonight and the decision made towards Libya.  The President did in Libya what he described that Fall in 2009.  As he described again tonight, “the United States had a moral responsibility to stop “violence on a horrific scale,” Were we in a position to watch Libya unfold before our eyes without any involvement or was this the only option we had?  Again, I don’t know.

When it comes to the debate on war, I always side with diplomacy and I am hopeful that despite these last nine days, diplomacy will rule the day.  Until then, we watch and we wait to see what tomorrow my bring…if it were up to me? A slow news day.

Is Governor Walker, like…for real?

 

Wisconsin University educator under attack by GOP

Wisconsin "Union Busting" Governor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lot’s going on in the world right now, but tonight I am baffled by Governor Walker.  Is there some brilliant, political strategy he is pursuing that perhaps we don’t know about?

Well…whatever it is, good luck with that.