So glad to see Kandace Vallejo, one of our graduates from the Cultural Studies in Education program at UT and a dynamic leader and powerful voice who is founder and executive director of Youth Rise Texas. The focus of this organization is on helping youth that have been directly harmed by criminalization and deportation.
As you can see from my earlier post this morning, I am with Kandace. Our democracy is definitely at risk and we need to take it back!
#FamiliesBelongTogether, #familiestornapart,#incarceration#deportation#organizing #Jolt2020 @TXCivilRights@60Minutes @TexasObserver@democracynow #TxEd@SuVotoEsSuVoz #LatinoVote#LatinxVote@AusHispanicVote
By Kandace Vallejo
Posted Jul 26, 2019 at 12:51 PMUpdated Jul 26, 2019 at 4:44 PM
I’m angry. In Spanish we call this anger “digna rabia,” which means dignified rage, and I invite you to share it with me. My anger is rooted in love for the hundreds of families that are being ripped apart under the guise of “internal enforcement,” and the 25,000 families at risk of homelessness if the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development finalizes a rule yanking housing assistance from “mixed status” families in which at least one family member may not be a citizen. My heart goes out to the thousands of kids across the nation going to bed tonight without their parents, the hundreds more that ICE could add this week, and those attempting sleep tonight in cages just hours from my house.
I was one of those kids. My grandmother broke the news to me after school in front of the TV. I was 12, and was well cared for after my mother’s deportation. I know now that I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m 35 now and planning my wedding, but there’s still a little girl with frizzy curls and mismatched socks in me, and she needed her mother as much then as she does now. And so do the millions of kids like me across the U.S. who have endured family separation for decades because of a draconian criminal justice policy that started with incarceration, and now includes deportation for civil offenses, for-profit refugees imprisonment facilities and caging toddlers fleeing violence.
It is this atrocious violence that drives me to practice what I call deep democracy. Deep democracy is messy. It’s built on love, action and a willingness to figure it out together. It’s how we don’t just say “Never again,” and “Not in our name;” it’s how we live it on the day to day. The freedom struggles of our brothers and sisters of the African disapora have shown us that deep democracy can transform lives, cities and yes — entire nations.
And though the long road to freedom for all people is still yet a promise, I can promise you that it will go unfulfilled if we don’t pave it ourselves. It is our national opportunity to unreservedly agree to another iteration of freedom struggle. No more sitting on the sidelines and wringing our hands and washing our words and emotions so they are palatable. We’ve got to go all in. So my invitation to you is to sit in this difficulty with me, to channel these feelings, and to take our democracy back.
As we round into the last 18 months of this president’s term, let’s make it meaningful. Let’s use this dark and frightening moment in our country to salvage what we can, and find ways to participate deeply.
Go beyond your vote, beyond your post. Get your hands dirty and kick up a storm. Empty your wallet if you’re able. Make eloquently rage-y phone calls to your elected officials and demand protections for Dreamers brought to this country as children. Demand an end to the kiddie cages, and a reinvestment in our refugee resettlement infrastructure instead. If you do nothing else, demand that we defund Immigration and Customs Enforcement and undo the criminalization of migration to help us end this dark national nightmare, and show up to the polls and primaries and make your demands there too.
In doing so, know that you’re helping me keep my family safely together. Let it come from anger if you like, and let that anger guide you and your family to find ways — big and small — to live with me and mine in a deep democracy every day. Just don’t forget to do it from a place a love. Because as Dr. Cornel West reminds us, justice is what love looks like in public.
Vallejo is the founder and executive director at Youth Rise Texas, an organization of young people who have been harmed by criminalization and deportation.