On International Women’s Day, local women fight back

It’s international Women’s Day and in case you were living under a rock, today we honor and defend all the women across the globe that have the ovaries to live freely, challenge status-quo daringly and love without borders. We also honor those women that are seldom seen in the limelight–women like my mother, whose tireless devotion to her family and home goes unseen to the world, but is visible in my eyes. We also honor farmworker women, whose daily routines consists of putting food on the table for not just their families but the rest of ours. Today, in fact, we see farmworker women taking a stand against a corporate giant and winning our hearts in the process. Check out what local women are doing as part of the Coalition of Immokalee Worker’s Fast for Justice in Lakeland.

But today, I want to dedicate this post to a woman, whose courage and strength gives me something to emulate. I met her in person yesterday after having received a frantic call from her 2 days before. It had to do with her husband, she said, in the midst of her tears, and that he was detained coming home from the hospital. Let me pause here-it’s not the first time I’ve received calls like this. It doesn’t get any easier taking them. She goes on and tells me that she has a small baby, 6 weeks old, and 3 older children. She doesn’t work, and cannot drive. She is scared and afraid because her loved one is in detention. She doesn’t know how he’s doing. She stops for a moment and tells me she can’t pay this month’s rent and she can’t work because of her newborn baby. I try and console her the best I can but how can you? What can you say? Words seem meaningless for someone in this situation. I let her vent, and say what she wants and at the end, I know, that like the others that call and ask for help, I must do what I can to fight back.

Sure–we’ve heard stories like this one before. In fact, most recently we’ve heard the story of Daniela Pelaez, Miami High School valedictorian, who was facing deportation. And every day, I get a request coming from a friend asking for me to sign yet another petition for a DREAMer or a father or mother who is detained. On a daily basis, those that run in these circles, are overwhelmed with social media tools to help our communities fight back. It’s a great thing but It’s hard not to become desensitized. In fact, those who disagree with that statement may be lying to themselves.

Maria, the woman who called, is not Daniela. Daniela was thrown into the spotlight because it is illogical to deport someone so talented and bright. and so sure, people will make comparisons and compare every case out there with someone like her. Daniela is an easy candidate for people’s attention and for the right reasons, mind you. Hell, I was right behind everyone sharing and facebooking her story. But what of the others? Folks who may not fall in our pre-determined categories. Do they get a chance to grab our attention even if they aren’t valedictorians?I think they should, especially if they are people like Lazaro, Maria’s husband, who was detained for driving without a license and has no criminal record.

Maria, after meeting her yesterday, had the courage to agree to do a public campaign for her husband. For a woman who is not immersed in the world of social networking and doesn’t know Facebook from the next online search engine, this is a huge thing. It’s not that easy for her but she understood the power of doing it.

On this day, International Women’s Day, I am reflecting back on why I do the work I do. I do it for the families, the children and to end the effed up policies we have in our country. But above all, as a woman, I do it for others like me. It has been through this work  that I found my sense of purpose and calling and have been able to stand up and fight back as first a woman and then an immigrant. I own my identity now and understand the power that is inside this 5 foot 1 inch frame. But most of all, it is for the work of other women, those old and new, that I have met throughout my life that have nurtured, protected and given me courage. Today, it’s for Maria and for her children. Tomorrow, it could be for you.

Please help us get her husband out. Sign this petition

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