Why I work with immigrant communities

I want to dedicate my first blog post to something that I think about constantly, but don’t talk about nearly enough: privilege. As you may have read in my bio, I was born in New York 33 years ago. It may go without saying, but I think that one can infer that I’m not an immigrant. My parents aren’t immigrants either. Other than living in the U.S. as a native-born citizen, I am the beneficiary of many other unearned privileges: I’m white. I am male-bodied. I come from a middle class background.These privileges (of class, race, and gender) and many others have shaped me in ways I can never imagine: from the most miniscule daily interactions to the most massive societal structures that I benefit from.However, there’s one privilege that escapes my conscience from time to time. And it’s a privilege that I think is mostly ignored by allies like me, but it is central to working with undocumented folks and immigrant communities. I choose to work for immigrant rights. Let me be blunt: I can leave the movement right now, and would never have to worry about me or my family being deported or when the U.S. government will pass immigration reform or the DREAM Act. Hell, my mental state would be ten times better if I ignored the ICE raids in my town or the numerous families torn apart on a daily basis by an unjust immigration system. And the most fucked up thing about privilege is that I really can do that at any time… drop out, burn out, go on vacay, or insert excuse here. Since I’m trying to be honest, I’ll admit it: the thought has crossed my mind… many times.Of course, what kind of blog would this be if I disavowed my values after the first post?

I choose to work for immigrant rights, because I don’t want to ignore how ICE negatively impacts my community. I choose to work for immigrant rights, because my own family history teaches me that sometimes — f it, in most circumstances – people are forced to immigrate for socio-political and economic reasons. I choose to work for immigrant rights because, as another ally in North Carolina put it, “I’m documented and afraid.” I cannot sit by silently while my friends and neighbors get detained and deported by ICE.

So, I guess this is a longer, wordier bio… I want you to know where I’m coming from. I also want you to know that the reason I decided to take part in this blog is because sometimes I forget that when I learn something, the info doesn’t do anybody any good if it doesn’t move from my brain to my mouth or in this case, my fingertips.

I hope that in self-reflection and by being challenged (by you, the reader), I will learn to be a better ally. So without rambling on any further… Let’s do this.


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