TO ALL MY BLACK PEOPLE IN UNDERGRAD, MASTERS PROGRAMS, PHD PROGRAMS, KEEP YA HEAD UP, I KNOW ACADEMIA IS OVERWHELMINGLY RACIST BUT DON’T LET IT OVERCOME YOU!!!!!!!
Why are these facts so terrifying? Because they illustrate an extreme injustice against basic human rights of people living in the United States. It is an injustice when people must live under constant fear or threat of being deported and separated from their families. It is an injustice when people do not have the opportunity to pursue their dreams and be an asset to this country. It is an injustice when people do not have the freedom to leave a country, travel and see their loved ones. America prides itself as being the “Land of Opportunity.” It’s about time we ensure that opportunity is a real possibility for all people living in this country.
1) According to the Department of Homeland Security, 1.3 million undocumented immigrants are from Asia.
While generally perceived as a Latino issue, 12 percent of all undocumented immigrants in the U.S. are Asian Americans. While there is a fear of detainment and deportation if their status becomes known, the undocumented Asian American population is growing in its political presence and visibility in order to advocate for changes to enhance their standard of living. Organizations such as RAISE (Revolutionizing Asian American Immigrant Stories on the East Coast) strive to create safe spaces for undocumented youth to share their stories and fight for humane immigration policies.
2) Of the 11.2 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., 2 million are minors or young adults under 30; of this number, 10 percent or 40,000 are Asian.
Undocumented people cannot leave the country, cannot get a driver’s license, cannot get minimum wage — in addition to living with the threat of being deported at any time for their undocumented status. Thousands of children immigrated to the U.S. with their parents in search of a better future, only to grow up and discover that their undocumented status prohibits them from fulfilling their dreams and reaching their full potential. As an undocumented student, they are not eligible for federal grants and most scholarships, making college extremely unaffordable. Even as some students find a way to fund their college education, they cannot accept full time jobs after graduation. These legal limitations restrict young people from being an asset to our future economy. For example, the average DREAM Act student will make $1 million more over his or her lifetime by obtaining legal status, which results in tens of thousands of dollars for federal, state and local treasuries.
3) Undocumented status and deportation tears families apart. Almost 4.3 million close family members are waiting around the world to be reunited with a loved one in the United States.
According to Asian Americans Advancing Justice:
Asian Americans are the most likely to have family members caught up in visa backlogs. Approximately 60 percent of Asian Americans are foreign-born — the highest percentage of any racial group. In 2012, 85 percent of visas issued for Asian countries were family based. Although Asian Americans comprise only 6 percent of the US pop, Asian immigrants received more than one third of the world wide family immigration visas.
Founder of RAISE Neriel David Ponce shares, “I’ve been away from the Philippines for 14 years now and missed weddings, births and passings of my relatives. Separation from my relatives has definitely been a challenge being undocumented.”
4) Over 250,000 Asian American immigrants have been deported under the Obama Administration.
In total, there has been a record breaking 2 million deportations since Obama’s presidency — averaging about 1,000 people a day. Under current immigration laws, deported immigrants are not allowed to re-enter the country. Not only does this split up families and disrupt their economic stability, it becomes nearly impossible for families to visit each other if their children have undocumented status.
5) Undocumented people — adults and children — are more likely to be exploited in the workforce.
Due to their status, undocumented people get paid lower wages than other workers. They also face the threat of employers reporting them to Immigration and Customs Enforcement if they do not comply with the terms of exploitation. Undocumented people are subjected to extremely vulnerable and inhumane conditions; they can’t even fight for basic human rights without the threat of being deported and separated from their families.
In addition to these facts and numbers, the award winning documentary, “Why We Rise,” produced by the youth led organization RAISE tells the story of 3 brave New Yorkers living with undocumented status. With the courage to share their stories, they aim to humanize the immigration issue by demonstrating that the only difference between them and everyone else is a piece of paper.
In an effort to raise awareness and mobilize the community, there will be a theater performance by undocumented Asian youth in New York City this Wednesday, August 13th titled, “Letters from UndocuAsians.” Exercising their voice and making their undocumented status known is already a huge feat in itself. “RAISE produced ‘Letters from UndocuAsians’ after seeing how powerful an impact our last show ‘#UndocuAsians’ made,” says organizer Neriel David Ponce. “We wanted a night where we can invite an audience we can be real to, where our stories can be told by us and our experiences shown by us. It’s not just a performance but a night where we also want the audience to take action.”
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These are some of the ways white solidarity in regard to fighting against anti-black racism can appear.
These are some ways in which white people can be comrades to black people.
Neither of these individuals are running around saying, “Look at me! Look at how I’m so excellent at being a good white person!” Neither of them said, “Hey! But not all white people…!” They, in fact, said, “Too many white people…!” and got to work. Neither of them has to convince black people of their intentions. What they did was say, “How can I be of service?” and, when told, did as they were asked. They were not there to condescend to black people or speak over black people or pretend to be able to know what it must be like to be black in America. They were there to support the cause, which they recognized as imperative for our liberation and their own.
They put themselves in harm’s way (and when you are allied with black people in a bold and physical way, you have definitely, automatically placed yourself in harm’s way by your mere proximity to black bodies and causes, because the System’s aim is not always true) not because it wins them a gold star for the White Ally Games, but because they know that injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere and whatever evils are perpetrated against black peoples, it’s only a matter of time before those same evils are perpetrated against non-black peoples.
In other words, they are not, to paraphrase James Baldwin, Liberals; that is to say, they aren’t missionaries placing themselves in the mix to feel good about themselves. They know, as much as we do, that Whiteness must be abolished. They are not oblivious to their own privileges, showing up in name only in order to score political correctness points. They, rather, understand that the duty to fight against anti-black racism is the duty of anyone who wishes to think of themselves as an actual human being; who, in fact, understands what “humanity” actually means.
Let these two individuals be some sort of examples to the folks who insist upon “Not all white people…!”
Being a comrade is an action. It is not going around touting your role as The Exception. It is not seeking balms and cookies from black people for being in touch with your BASIC, BASELINE humanity.
If you think it is, you’ve been doing this shit ALL WRONG.
If you have to say “Not all white people…!” if you feel compelled to protect and absolve Whiteness in any way, particularly during an event in which Blackness is being annihilated by Whiteness, your priorities have been made clear. You are not comrade; you are enemy.
[Photo descriptions: A young white man is standing on the grass in the midst of an outdoor, daytime gathering where many individuals, black and white, have shown up. He is holding a sign that says: BLACK LIVES MATTER MIKE BROWN
A white woman is standing alone on the grass. She is holding a white sign with black letters that reads: “I Shoplifted as a teen. How many times should I be shot? #MikeBrown. She added, in the photo’s description, an additional bit of text:
“I want to be clear, the purpose of this photo is NOT to infer guilt on Mike Brown. But too often in the killing of black people by cops, alleged guilt of a minor crime is all that is needed for the white public to write them off. I want to circumvent that entire derailment technique, because in the end, it doesn’t matter. If I get caught shoplifting, I don’t get shot eight times. And Michael Brown shouldn’t have, either.”]