Are We Ready to Be What Racists Fear?
Written By: Janessa M. - Board of Directors Immigrant & Refugee Rights
NO ONE WOULD EVER ACCUSE ME OF BEING APATHETIC. Mostly I am described as divisive, one of the many people who refuse to let racism die because I always have to “bring race into it." White people have seemingly taken great joy in screaming that those who are fighting to dismantle racism and oppression are the very people who perpetuate it. They tell us to “just get over it” and “move on," but how do we move on when the very institutions that created racism still exist, have always existed? How do we move forward when we are still very much dedicated to our racist and oppressive beginnings? There is truth in that we must know history so that we do not repeat history; but all I see is people hopeful for that past, romanticizing an era of Jim Crow laws and I feel so small, so hopeless, so fearful.
I lie awake most nights now, still in my fear and worry. I think back to my story as a transracial adoptee with a biological father who was Mexican and had at most, an 8th grade education, and a biological mother I know very little about. Like so many before them and all the families after, they were faced with an impossible choice. The difference is that I was lucky to have been born on the other side, the “right side” of an invisible border and so when people see me, they see an “American,” but I feel alienated, slighted, I feel...foreign.
My story as a transracial adoptee has left me with this indescribable void that will never be understood. Throughout my life I have attached incredible meaning to who I was as Mexican and less to who I was as American, but like the Diaspora Blues says “so, here you are too foreign for home and too foreign for here. Never enough for both” - Ljeoma Umebinyuo. I sit with this impossible task of reconciling gratitude and resentment.
My feelings of complete alienation have revived in me what Gloria Anzaldúa called her Shadow-Beast, the rebel inside that refuses to take orders from outside authorities, so while I feel beaten down and worn when I lie in bed, I wake each morning ready. Ready to be what racists fear: A well educated brown woman. I will not waste my voice on silence; and don’t think that bond, family, or blood will keep you from the rebel inside me. I have sent notice to those in my life that you are either with me or against me. We cannot fight tyranny with silence and apathy.
As new horrors emerge (Pentagon Agrees to Provide 'Housing' for 20,000 Detained Migrant Children and Inside the Brains of Children Separated from Parents) please use your voice and your privilege to speak for my people. Help us give voices to those who are only seeking a better way of life, safety and security, seeking hope. Join me in telling this government that as a society we vehemently oppose using the lives of young children as political bargaining chips, nor will we allow the terrorizing of our borderland communities. Use your voice to put an end to the cruel practice of criminalizing families and locking them up in abandoned Walmarts, tent cities, for-profit prisons, and military bases.
- Janessa M.
WMM Board of Directors Immigrant & Refugee Rights
Below are ways you can help, resources in your local communities, and opportunities to understand what's happening to children at the border.
If you would like to give locally please visit the following organizations:
If you would like to learn more about the conditions at the border and how to help please visit the following organizations:
Photos by Janessa M.