The following article is one of a series of accounts from students who recently returned from Arizona. They were part of a delegation that spent a week touring the state amid the enactment of controversial law SB 1070. The Center for New Community, a national civil rights organization based in Chicago, sponsored the trip, which included nine students from Washington D.C., New York, Chicago and Colorado.
This year I lost twelve loved ones after the earthquake hit Haiti. Every day, after January 12, 2010, I waited for a phone call from family members telling me about someone passing. The anxiety I felt while waiting to hear if someone had been taken away from me was indescribable. This anxiety is felt by Latino immigrants in this country every day, and it is not caused by a natural disaster but by government agencies. Being an American used to mean that you proudly descended from immigrants or you were originally from somewhere else and came to this country for a better life. That’s what the American dream was; to be able to come here and have the opportunities that your homeland couldn’t offer. Now this dream is only promised to those who fit a narrower definition of American. The idea of ripping families apart based on the fundamentals this country was built on is something I didn’t imagine was still happening in this country.
This anti-immigration movement goes against the pillars of this country. To see such racism, classism and oppression in this century, shows the fight for social equality isn’t over. Social injustices and struggles for the American dream are just as American as immigration. Every minority group that has come to this country from the Chinese to the Italians has faced some form of oppression and discrimination. This struggle one of race, but more of a class issue. All races are interdependent on each other, this relationship between different groups of people needs to be understood and accepted to truly evolve and change the concept of race and the importance of Human rights. Races are interdependent of each other because we must cohabitate and work together to achieve the dream of universal peace. Our stories are a lot more similar then they are different.
Our (Civil Rights of the 1900’s and Immigration reform) movements are so similar, but many blacks fail to see pass their own hardships. The civil rights movement inspired people from all faces of this earth. Boycotts, peaceful demonstrations, riots and other forms of civil disobedience were used in our movement and are now being reused in the immigration reform movement.
It is easier to fight a battle with more soldiers. By uniting all oppressed people and cultures, our opponents look smaller and different. A just society doesn’t look the same. To truly achieve justice and equality we must focus our energies on our similarities, basic human freedoms and our needs.
We have become so adjusted to injustice, that we have reduced our voices as a people. We can’t let history repeat itself.