I got back in the Bay yesterday after three weeks of vacation. A restful, rejuvenating, way-too-short three weeks. I was able to see one of my best friends get married in Milwaukee, show my Mom where I’m going to get married next year here in the Bay, have my old First Wave students buy me a drink in Madison (yes, they’re now 21 and going to graduate this year!), and – most powerfully – go with my Dad to visit my grandma’s archives at Cal State-Long Beach and have him show me where he grew up in South Central LA. (More to come on that one.)
Like I said, a great three weeks. But also strange.
As I was enjoying my summer, I knew my friends (and thousands of strangers) were getting arrested while fighting for their rights across the state border in Arizona. SB1070, the Arizona anti-immigrant bill that could have been written in apartheid-era South Africa, was partially blocked by a federal judge. But this recent video shows what immigrants face in Arizona every day — injunction or not.
There is a line being drawn in the sand, and I’m not trying to spend my day at the beach just napping.
It’s important to get rest, and I love spending time with family and learning and laughing, but shit, read what my friend did on HER summer vacation down in Phoenix. And another old friend asks some tough, honest questions about moving forward.
Even in my absence, I was still able to practice some solidarity, though. Last month, I made a radio segment about Arizona, combining commentary with culture and some amazing artists from the Red, White, and Brown town hall Youth Speaks organized after May Day. And with much help from the amazing Nora Barrows-Friedman and Esther Manilla, the 10-minute segment called “The Art of Resistance” aired on the local Pacifica station, KPFA, just days before SB1070 was set to go into effect. It aired while I was out of town, so I’m just now getting a listen myself.
Check it out:
Listen directly from the KPFA archives
(It’s the closing segment of the show.)
Listening to it again, I remember the power of words. To claim space and tell your story. So much of the immigration debate is about dehumanizing people just trying to take care of their families. That Youth Speaks forum, and spaces like that where people can share who they really are , is a way for immigrants to re-humanize themselves — and all of us.
But words aren’t enough. Like the sign in the picture above says, “the struggle continues.” SB1070 wasn’t fully stopped, and it won’t be until we make it happen. I hope you got some rest this summer. Cuz this fall, I’m joining with these folks — it’s time WE turn up the heat.