Got this in an email, and it seems worth passing along, from two white, anti-racist groups out of the Bay Area:
For May Day and Beyond: White People Step up for Immigrant Rights!
In the past month, five million people, mostly immigrants of color, have mobilized for justice and are making history, flooding the streets in unprecedented numbers. Meanwhile, the most visible participation by white people is coming from the racist and right wing leaders who are defining
and dominating the debate in the Federal government and in the news, radio and opinion pages. Where are the voices of anti-racist white people in this crucial moment, when the worst anti-immigrant legislation in decades is still poised to drop?
We, white people who believe in justice and ending racism, have a responsibility and a historic opportunity to stand with immigrant communities and unite behind their demands. As white people, most of us with U.S. citizenship, we call out to our white communities to take to the streets for immigrant rights. We must demonstrate that the rightwing racists, from the Minutemen to in the Congress, do not represent us!
Anyone who has experienced this month’s electrifying, grassroots explosion feels the power and excitement growing. Working-class immigrants, with their crucial roles in the economy and culture of the U.S., have real power to reshape this country, as a vibrant part of broad multiracial
movements for justice and equality. As anti-racist white people, we have a role to play in this struggle.
Immigrants are the direct targets of these policies, and we know enforcement will aim at immigrants of color. But we are all endangered by the accelerating drive of this country towards greater abuse of working people, more criminalization of poor/working-class people, and of all
communities of color, particularly African-Americans. Our futures are tied together and now is the time to stand with immigrants fighting for their rights.
The ruling class in the United States has historically led anti-immigrant campaigns to divide working people, getting people to blame one another for stealing their jobs while corporations build their financial empires from all of our labor. Building from a foundation of enslaved African
labor and mass land theft from indigenous nations, corporations used anti-immigrant campaigns against the Irish, Italian, Jews. Chinese, Japanese, Eastern Europeans and other immigrants, to deny them legal protections, attack unions and maintain cheap labor to under-cut better waged jobs. These campaigns intensified with the Chinese Exclusion Act in the 1880’s and as more and more European immigrants were assimilated into white society, immigrants of color from Asia and then Latin America were targeted to be a permanent low wage, legally unprotected, work force to drive wages down and corporate profits up.
White people have led and rallied behind anti-immigrant campaigns in the millions throughout the history of this country and today a new history for immigrant justice is being written and we have a responsibility to be part of it. We’re fighting two racist agendas: big businesses need to retain a vulnerable pool of exploitable labor, and the blatant organized racists want to preserve white political dominance and agitate for mass deportations. This divided right wing unites to dehumanize immigrants of color, working to strip them of any rights or protections. The small handful of mostly white billionaires backing and benefiting from these strategies depends on our complicity. Instead, let’s build upon the legacy of anti-racist white people who have refused to participate in divide and conquer strategies, where the ruling class historically uses race to pit us against each other.
White people need to take responsibility for countering the attacks generated by white racists, from the border to the White House.
If you’re a white person who stands for justice, we encourage you to step it up. How can you more actively support immigrants fighting for their rights, and encourage your families and friends to get more involved? What local organizing by immigrants can you support with your time, money, and resources? On April 23rd in the Bay Area, and throughout the country on May 1st (International Workers’ Day) immigrant communities around the country will again take the streets. Let’s be there in greater numbers: on the streets beside our friends and neighbors, raising our voices in the national debate, making a commitment to organizing more white people to stand up against attacks on immigrants.
The first thing to point out here is how true that opening bit is: when it comes to the current immigration controversy, the most prominent white folks are on the anti- side, calling for more fences and guns, confusing “illegal immigrant” and “latino”, advocating the tearing apart of millions of families in a mass deportation. Maybe there are millions of white people working alongside the mostly latino movement who aren’t being shown in the media. I hope so.
Secondly, I had to laugh at one of the key points of the letter: pro-immigrant white people have a “responsibility” for the racist statements of ideologically-opposed white people. Well, we hear that all the time from conservative whites about other ethnic groups: blacks need to denounce the anti-semitic views of the Nation of Islam, Muslims need to speak out against the words of Muslim terrorist zealots, etc. So either white folks have to speak out against racist white folks, or no one from any particular ethnic group is responsible for the words of another person of that same ethnic group.
Third, I hope that everyone will be taking part in the “Great American Boycott” next Monday (May 1). “No Work, No School, No Sales, and No Buying.” For those not familiar, it’s a day of protest to show the economic power of immigrants, and to refute the idea that they are somehow a social and economic problem for this country. Says the call to action,
Immigrants contribute 7 billion in social security per year. they earn 240 billion, report 90 billion, and only are reimbursed 5 billion, “where are the 85 billion?” They also contribute to the U.S. economy 25 billion more than they receive in healthcare, etc., etc., etc. According to the anti-immigrant politicians and hatemongers, “immigrants are a drain on society.” If this is true, then during the day on May 1st the stock market will surge, and the economy will boom. If not, we prove them wrong once and for all. We know what will happen!
Take a sick day, skip work altogether, get your mom to write you a note for school, ditch, and don’t spend any money. Lists of local actions taking place can be found here and here. I don’t know how much impact keeping our dollars to ourselves will have, but I’m pretty sure that the truck drivers who move goods from America’s ports to stores and warehouses, who’ve at least agreed to strike in LA, will probably make ripples.
And to those who disagree, who will say “why are they doing this? Why do they want to hurt America?”, let’s flip that around. Every day that we Americans let latinos get scapegoated and threatened with bullshit laws, we are hurting them. Any sort of social change means upsetting the status quo, which means that someone will get hurt. But that doesn’t mean that we should accept an unjust society in order to avoid stepping on toes.
May 1: No Work, No School, No Sales, and No Buying.
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