This is what the school-to-prison pipeline looks like. This is how black youth criminalized.
- She was doing a science experiment
- She’s being charged as an ADULT
- She’s being charged with a FELONY
If this all goes the way the prosecution wants, this young woman will be LEGALLY discriminated against for the rest of her life. No voting, housing discrimination, employment discrimination (as if getting a job while black isn’t hard enough), etc. etc.
Here’s the thing: even if she was just fucking around and it made an accidental little bang (the description makes it sound like diet coke and mentos at the worst) she’s a kid. Sixteen years old. She doesn’t deserve prison. She doesn’t even deserve a trial. Give her a detention, maybe charge her if she broke something.
agh, schools these days
I think the problem is that many people in America think that racism is an attitude. And this is encouraged by the capitalist system. So they think that what people think is what makes them a racist. Racism is not an attitude.
If a white man wants to lynch me, that’s his problem. If he’s got the power to lynch me, that’s my problem. Racism is not a question of attitude; it’s a question of power.
Racism gets its power from capitalism. Thus, if you’re anti-racist, whether you know it or not, you must be anti-capitalist. The power for racism, the power for sexism, comes from capitalism, not an attitude.
You cannot be a racist without power. You cannot be a sexist without power. Even men who beat their wives get this power from the society which allows it, condones it, encourages it. One cannot be against racism, one cannot be against sexism, unless one is against capitalism.
I’m still trying to develop my thoughts around this whole thing, so this is meant to be more of an initial query than my set beliefs. I would love to have a conversation with those who are willing (and maybe I’m just not looking hard enough but it doesn’t seem like many people are willing) and have their own perspectives to add to a dialogue. So.
Black and Undocumented? We Do Exist (Thoughts on Black/Brown Solidarity).
Whenever I fill out a request for demographic info, my hand hovers with uncertainty over ‘African-American,’ though every time it is the box I ultimately check. As someone born in Nigeria yet raised in Texas since the age of 6, I have always struggled with a literal identity at the intersection of African and American, one ironically that the term African-American didn’t quite seem to apply to.
Upon realizing I was undocumented my senior year in high school, I found community in the immigrant rights movement along with other undocumented youth. Though I felt less alone in navigating daily life without papers, through my involvement I’ve carried a different feeling of alienation, one of not seeing many reflections of myself -not only in mainstream media but in the movement I had grown so attached to. I sincerely hope more black immigrant voices are uplifted and included in the larger narrative rather than being rendered invisible as the immigration debate restarts this year.
On my own path to liberation, I can only walk across the bridge that is my lived experience, an experience whose heart beats with kinship for the culture of organizing I have learned in the Latino community, the blanket of brother- and sisterhood I’ve gained from the African-American and Asian/Pacific Islander communities, and the swelling sense of pride stemming from my Nigerian roots.
As a (dark-skinned) black undocumented woman, I am aware that though I am less likely to be profiled as an undocumented immigrant, by virtue of my appearance, I am likely to be racially profiled period – whether it’s at a store, traffic light, or walking down the street. As I learn how to acknowledge the simultaneous privilege and invisibility of being one of the lesser-known stories of the undocumented experience, I also see the damage that results from playing Oppression Olympics with communities of color. We must be careful to avoid rating our own struggles as more important than or even in opposition to the struggles similar minority groups face. It is for this reason that I disagree with the immigrant rights movement self-labeling as the “New Civil Rights Movement” just as much as I disagree with the treatment of undocumented immigrants being equated to the institution of slavery in the United States - we must seek to build solidarity not on literal comparisons of our oppressions but on the acknowledgment of and determination to break down the same systems of power that marginalized us in the first place. Our communities can simultaneously own our unique histories while building solidarity from our shared experiences.
A perfect example of this intersectionality exists in the parallels between the highly privatized criminal justice and immigration detention systems, both of which criminalize communities of color into extended incarceration or extended detention and deportation. All of our communities have a vested interest in coming together to fight back against police brutality, racial profiling, mass incarceration and inhumane detention. These pipelines that are destroying our communities may have different sources but are all connected in method and fueled by the same ideology; after all, it is no surprise that voter suppression, anti-immigrant, and anti-reproductive choice efforts all stem from the same nativist source.
My story is just one of many that results from a broken immigration system badly in need of true reform. My family has been fighting deportation since 2006 and we are due back in court this April 8th. I have not seen my father in 10 years, since he is unable to get a visa to return and I cannot leave without triggering a 10 year ban on coming back, so we maintain a relationship the way too many families are forced to – through long-distance calling cards on static-filled phone lines.
At the end of the day, our experiences are paralleled by our common “otherness,” by that perpetual status of minority and its resulting consequences that reach beyond mere pieces of paper. Our communities have all buckled under the crushing weight of white supremacy, have all experienced the pain and loss brought on by colonization, and have all known – deeply and intimately known – what it means to carry the burden of struggle. Yet our respective histories and triumphs as communities of color need not compete with each other. We do not have to tiptoe around the intersections of race, class and gender on migration, because true transformative justice will only come from working through these issues as communities that are still hurting and healing, rather than avoiding them altogether. That is my vision for true black/brown solidarity.
when you write a really long & heartfelt email while sitting in the heat in your car in front of barnes & noble so you can mooch off their internet & then you send it but should have double checked because it just disappeared into the ethos of the interwebs without leaving a trace or draft or anything in gmail or any sign that you actually cared and you could cry because you want those precious words back and you can’t even remember one line. man, this day is killing me.
After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,
I heard the announcement:
If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,
Please come to the gate immediately.
Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,
Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her
Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she
I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,
Sho bit se-wee?
The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used—
She stopped crying.
She thought our flight had been canceled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
Following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,
Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and
Would ride next to her—Southwest.
She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.
Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and
Found out of course they had ten shared friends.
Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian
Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.
She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering
She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered
Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—
And was offering them to all the women at the gate.
To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
The lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same
Powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.
And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers—
Non-alcoholic—and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American—ran around serving us all apple juice
And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.
And I noticed my new best friend—by now we were holding hands—
Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,
With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always
Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.
And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.
Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped
—has seemed apprehensive about any other person.
They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.
Not everything is lost.
—Naomi Shihab Nye (b. 1952), “Wandering Around an Albuquerque Airport Terminal.” I think this poem may be making the rounds, this week, but that’s as it should be. (via oliviacirce)
I wrote “Their Eyes Were Watching God” in Haiti. It was dammed up in me, and I wrote it under internal pressure in seven weeks. I wish that I could write it again. in fact, I regret all of my books. It is one of the tragedies of life that one cannot have all the wisdom one is ever to possess in the beginning. Perhaps, it is just as well to be rash and foolish for a while. If writers were too wise, perhaps no books would be written at all. It might be better to ask yourself “Why?” afterwards than before. Anyway, the force from somewhere in Space which commands you to write in the first place, gives you no choice. You take up the pen when you are told, and write what is commanded. There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you.
“The adoption of activism as a lifestyle rather than a medium for bringing about social change serves to alienate those who do not identify with its idiosyncratic culture. The unspoken rules of what hairstyles, clothing, diet and lifestyle choices are and aren’t acceptable in the activist ghetto are major barriers to those who are interested in the same revolutionary aims but don’t share the lifestyle.”
I think many “activists” (whether they take the term or not) know these general ideas, but I think it is always worth reflection. Not everyone can—or wants to—throw everything down and “live off the spoils of capitalism” by squatting and dumpster diving. Not everyone feels safe in your “safe space” that is actually largely consistent with het/cis/white/male culture. Not everyone will believe in your anarchy when you question their commitment and validity of opinion. Not that questioning has no place—I’m looking at you, internet activists—but not when it comes from a place of superiority.
This might be partially me trying to excuse my hiding away from the world, but then again I shouldn’t have to make myself a combative extrovert to help make change. That being said, I reflect on my privileges and am very aware of how I come at things, which is the essential other half to not putting people (people, not ideas) down. Generally everyone needs more humility. I think the author is correct in saying, “activists should be just that – unknown militants who lend their efforts and their solidarity to struggles wherever they find the opportunity.” And that opportunity can look different for everyone.
Black women wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and see Black women. White women wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and see women. White men wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and see human beings.
Before you read this, please visit http://action.dreamactivist.org/mice and sign the petition & share if you haven’t already. Then come back if you’d like.
Of MICE and Women
Whose mouths have not tasted her milk in far too many days,
Back to a husband too distraught to brush hair or tie shoelaces,
Now unemployed, the nearly empty fridge haunting him in his sleep.
He reaches over the pillow and her hand is not there but her heart is.
Her heart is, and so she gives in and signs voluntary departure,
though no free will is present in the room.
Neck forever cramped from looking back to those still caged within
Checking that the pieces of herself placed strategically-
dignity preserved in the folds of her uniform,
strength wrapped tenderly around the steel bars,
hope tucked into dusty corners of cement-
will keep her comrades company until they too are free.
With a final order of removal to execute the ghost of her American presence.
They didn’t even offer her a final meal,
though tonight their own children will eat the tomatoes that her husband picked in the fields
for dinner and be satisfied.
They will be satisfied, while her own children remain hungry for justice.
But you must learn to hold its heat in your mouth,
Press its discomfort into the backs of your teeth,
Swish it around until your throat burns from its consequence,
Lest they pry it from your lips like they did your native tongue.
But we are too fearful of reclaiming sunlight to let them go,
and it is not even raining.
It is not even raining yet our thoughts of self-hate strike us like thunder,
leaving the faint scent of burnt melanin in its wake.
Our bodies have been stripped of their majesty,
And we are now too comfortable being wallflowers.
We tiptoe around as if society is a minefield,
Yet it is in her heart where she has hidden that grenade,
And every “Go Back to Mexico” sends her trembling hand
Inching closer to pull that pin and detonate her dreams so she no longer has to defer them.
It’s more like stepping into the future to pay a visit to ourselves
Like looking into the mirror and discovering that
Your reflection has been deported in your absence.
Then we are all the trophies of white supremacy,
Generations upon generations of cheap labor
Provided by disposable brown bodies that need never reach for the American Dream,
because it is an exercise in futility.
We have to confront the ugly in our struggle if we are ever to overcome it.
We have to confront the ugly in our communities if we are ever to overcome it.
Let us be ugly together, for ugly pain yields power
Like the contractions that come before giving birth.
It teaches you how to scream after years of being told you have no voice.
Ugly pain refuses to be swept under the rug,
to be bribed by gilded handcuffs wrapped in a freedom gift box.
But it, too, must come out of the shadows.
Though at times we must wrap ourselves
in the security blanket and safety of undocumented to survive,
It is time to don our illegal suit of armor
And prepare to go to war with our internalized hate,
Swords of forgiveness raised to the sky,
Leaving empty shells of our egos scattered across the battlefield.
After that first part of its migration.
Is still a priority.
That they are locking us up without a reason.
No one will shake their head if they knew that
Private prisons cash in on every immigrant body.
Deport Them All is not just a magic trick.
It is real.
Deport them all is a broken tail light for Wanda,
is driving while brown for Gustavo,
is coughing up blood for Maria.
Deport them all is working without papers for Adelaida,
is being in the passenger’s seat for Everilda,
who was being sent back to Guatemala
where her five family members were assassinated,
with a target on her back.
It is real. It is no magic trick or prophecy. It is today.
And tomorrow, what if we said, deport me instead?
Our collective ugly would be beautiful.
We could swell jail cells with our capacity,
like they rob us short of our humanity.
We could offer up our bodies like sacrificial lambs in orange jumpsuits
And dare them to feast on their own shame.
And what if we do nothing,
Grip our umbrellas tight until our knuckles turn white?
Do not let me lose this battle with my own complacency.
Do not let me face these demons alone.
Let us be ugly together.
So tired from fighting that that only way to stand shoulder to shoulder
Is if we lean on each other.
Let the blood from my wounds drip into yours and make us family.
Let us drill holes in each others pipelines
So that yellow and brown and black bodies may breathe shared oxygen.
Let us be ugly together.
Let us be ugly for our mothers for whom this country’s beauty has forsaken,
for our fathers who leave their dignity behind at home for safekeeping
before standing in parking lots for livelihood.
And if the callouses on their hands could speak,
they would yell, “Pick me! Choose me! Open the door, America. Please, just open the door.”
Let us be ugly together.
I’ll show you my pain if you show me your truth.
Let us shrug off this cloak of pretense and open the curtains of rhetoric.
Let me take your hand in mine and hold it so tight that
Our grip will send a message that Enough! Not. One. More.
Let us be ugly together.
Let us do it for them,
of MICE and women,
so that we may one day,
do it for ourselves.