By PATRICIA, RAMON, MIRIAM, and CAROLINA
The United States is currently in the middle of an upheaval prompted by yet another murder of a Black community member at the hands of police. On May 25, George Floyd was murdered by four police officers in the middle of downtown Minneapolis. The crisis that the country faces is best epitomized not by the sights of burning buildings, but by the conversations that millions of people are having about justice, race, policing, and punishment in this country. These conversations are not new within the immigrant rights movement; indeed, they lay at the core of its mission to seek liberation for all communities treated unjustly by the U.S. government on the basis of their race/ethnicity and/or immigration status.
At My Undocumented Life, we stand in solidarity with nationwide efforts to protest the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Nina Pop, and many others, and the deep-rooted systemic forms of oppression against Black communities, which have led to their deaths and that of fellow black (immigrant and non-immigrant) community members over decades. In this post, we will share helpful information, resources, calls-to-action, and readings to help mobilize our efforts and demand change. We will continue to update this post so make sure to bookmark it & comment below with any additional resources!
Note: We realize that our post is one frame of reference and it is not meant to represent the views of all Black or non-Black immigrant rights organizers. While we attempt to do our best to highlight Black-led immigrant organizations/efforts on this post, we want to strongly encourage undocuBlack and Black immigrant writers to submit a post to be shared on My Undocumented Life (if interested, please contact us at email@example.com).
We understand that all Black peoples’ liberation is intrinsically tied to both the immigrant rights movement and the Black Lives Matter movement. Moreover, building solidarity and strengthening ties between immigrant communities and non-immigrant Black communities are integral to combating systemic forms of oppression. Black-led movements, be it the Civil Rights movement or the modern-day Black Lives Matter movement, where undocuBlack, AfroLatino/a/x, and Black immigrant community members have also actively participated, paved the way for the contemporary immigrant rights movement. For example, in 2006, thousands of people took to the streets to demonstrate opposition to (H.R. 4437) anti-immigrant federal legislation across the country. In doing so, we were building on the legacy of both non-immigrant Black and immigrant freedom fighters. The immigrant rights movement has continued to organize for the betterment of immigrant communities and advocates for the racial, social, civic, and economic wellness of our people. All immigrant rights organizers must ask themselves: how can these skills be used to fight for and with the Black Lives Matter movement?
Asking ourselves this question is key for multiple reasons. First, the immigrant struggle and the struggle for Black lives are closely tied. All undocumented immigrants face the consistent risk of state violence, but among us, Black immigrants are most vulnerable. Per the Atlantic, even though only 7% of undocumented immigrants are Black, they represent 20% of deportations on criminal grounds. This speaks to their vulnerability to racial profiling, police violence, and deportation. Second, it is important to emphasize that undocuBlack, AfroLatino/a/x, and Black immigrant community members have played a critical role in both movements. For example, the Young Lords, led by Afro-Latina/o/x members, advocated for Black and immigrant rights primarily during the 1960s and 1970s. Third, one of the main pillars of the “Vision for Black Lives” — a policy platform produced by Black Lives Matter — was “an end to the war on Black immigrants, including the repeal of the 1996 crime and immigration bills, an end to all deportations, immigration detention, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and mandated legal representation in immigration court.”
Fourth, the immigrant rights movement is long past due for a reckoning with the ways it has aided racist/racialized public discourse. News coverage of immigration issues has equated the immigrant experience with the Latinx experience. The movement has by and large supported these narratives by only highlighting the challenges faced by non-Black Latinxs. In doing so, it has become complicit in the erasure of Black immigrant narratives. The movement has also fed anti-Black narratives by highlighting the worth of “good” immigrants and justifying the incarceration and deportation of “bad” immigrants. Such a discourse contributes to the continual use of state violence to largely punish Black working-class populations, who are continually under surveillance by the government.
Fifth and final, the police responsible for killing thousands of Black (immigrant and non-immigrant) community members are the same ones collaborating with ICE to separate families via deportation. Reigning their hold on our communities will keep us all protected. Furthermore, the distinction used in the media to demonize Black protest — the “peaceful protest” vs. the “rioter” — is the same used to demonize the immigrant movement. We reject the notion that there is a “bad protester” or a “bad immigrant.” The immigrant rights movement should stand in unflinching solidarity and further strengthen its ties with the Black Lives Matter movement by speaking out against the demonization of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Thus, it is imperative that organizers within the immigrant rights movement join (or further commit to working on) the most immediate efforts seeking to bring justice to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Nina Pop, and many others, as well as the ongoing struggle to end the criminalization of Black (non-immigrant and immigrant) community members, police brutality, and all forms of state violence. Non-black community members must also engage in difficult conversations about race and colorism while centering the voices of Black people. Standing in solidarity means doing this labor within non-Black communities and refusing to remain silent. Silence is compliance.
CALLS TO ACTION
Black Voters Matter Fund: “Increasing voter registration and turnout is an important aspect of building power, but this is just the beginning of our work. We advocate for policies to expand voting rights/access, including expanded early voting, resisting voter ID, re-entry restoration of rights and strengthening the Voting Rights Act. We also advocate for policies that intersect with race, gender, economic and other aspects of equity.”
Campaign Zero: “We can live in a world where the police don’t kill people by limiting police interventions, improving community interactions, and ensuring accountability. By implementing the right policy changes, we can end police killings and other forms of police violence in the United States.”
Connecticut Bail Fund: “Our strategy is to pay bail for people who are being caged due to poverty, organize in opposition to the incarceration and deportation of community members, and educate and advocate towards a radical vision for safety, justice, and healing.”
Demand accountability: If you are an ally and registered voter, call your House representative and demand that they co-sponsor and push for a vote on Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Barbara Lee, and Karen Bass’s resolution to condemn police brutality, racial profiling, and use of excessive force.
Louisville Community Bail Fund: “The Louisville Community Bail Fund exists to not only bail out folks, but provide post-release support to get them from jail, fed, and to a situation of safety.”
Donate to the Minnesota Freedom Fund: “Conditions in jails and government facilities make it no longer safe for our people to be entering these facilities daily. As potential carriers we understand we are not putting only themselves in jeopardy. The state, meanwhile, makes it impossible to pay except by coming into these spaces in person. Effective immediately, we will no longer be able to pay as soon as requests come through. We will be paying criminal bails every Tuesday and immigration bonds every Thursday so please make requests with that in mind. We will announce our day for immigration bond payments as soon as possible.”
Sign “Justice for Breonna Taylor” petition: “Breonna Taylor was an award-winning EMT and model citizen. She loved her family and community. She worked at two hospitals as an essential worker during the pandemic. One month ago, a division of the Louisville Police Department performed an illegal, unannounced drug raid on her home. Not a single officer announced themselves before ramming down her door and firing 22 shots, shooting Breonna 8 times, killing her.”
Sign “Justice for Ahmaud Arbery” petition: “Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was chased and gunned down on February 23, 2020 while exercising in the Satalla Shores neighborhood in Brunswick, GA. His assailants followed him, cornered him, and confronted him with a deadly weapon. The DA is personal friends with one of the assailants and has failed to bring charges against either assailant in this blatant incident of racial profiling that led to the untimely death of an innocent man. Please sign this petition so that charges will be filed and justice for Ahmaud Arbery’s family can be served.”
Sign “Justice for George Floyd” petition: “George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer. George was handcuffed and restrained and being completely cooperative when this all went down. The officer put his knee on George’s neck, choking him for minutes while George screamed that he could not breathe. Bystanders beg[ged] for the police officer to take his knee off George’s neck, but the officer didn’t listen and continued to choke him.”
Last, but not least, there are an increasing number of protests happening across the country. Organizers are recommending that those interested in joining on the ground prioritize events coordinated by trusted Black-led organizations.
SPOTLIGHT ON ORGANIZATIONS
Black Alliance for Just Immigration: “BAJI educates and engages African American and black immigrant communities to organize and advocate for racial, social and economic justice. Local BAJI Organizing Committees in New York, Georgia, California and Arizona build coalitions and initiate campaigns among communities to push for racial justice.”
Black Immigrant Collective: “The Black Immigrant Collective amplifies and makes visible the voices of Black immigrants in Minnesota.”
The UndocuBlack Network: “The UndocuBlack Network (UBN) is a multigenerational network of currently and formerly undocumented Black people that fosters community, facilitates access to resources, and contributes to transforming the realities of our people, so we are thriving and living our fullest lives.”
26 Ways to Be In The Struggle Beyond the Streets: “Designed to celebrate all the ways that our communities can engage in liberation.”
“Amara La Negra on Race and Her Name”: “Love & Hip Hop: Miami star Amara La Negra reveals the surprising origin of her stage name, and how she feels about her racial identity.”
“Immigrant Voices of America: Episode 7- Shirleen”: “Shirleen shares her experiences as a black migrant studying to be a medical practitioner, but the fact that she is undocumented possesses a huge barrier advancing her career. She fights alongside her peers for more opportunities for immigrants like herself.”
“What Afro-Latinos Want You to Know”: “Time to talk about micro-aggressions like: ‘Arregla la raza.”
“Abolition Study”: List developed by a professor of recommended readings to learn more about the prison abolition movement.
“Your Right to Protest” (by ACLU) Read this article for important highlights of your right to protest.
Protesting while Undocu a 101 on #BLM Protests: Alán Pelaez Lopez (IG: @migrantscribble) shares tips, and resources on how to prepare to protest, how to ensure your safety, and other important strategies.
“Hacia Compañerismo y Conciencia: Pro-Blackness in Action” (by Mijente)
“Latinx communities must show up now, correct and powerfully. We must go beyond hollowed statements of solidarity and towards a genuine compañerismo. We must take concrete action that goes beyond addressing intra-community anti-Blackness. This is ongoing and must continue. The time now calls for modeling pro-Blackness and an embodied sense that our fates are linked. Our task is to stand shoulder to shoulder and put it out in the work.”
Raising Race Conscious Children: “a resource to support adults who are trying to talk about race with young children. The goals of these conversations are to dismantle the color-blind framework and prepare young people to work toward racial justice.”
How to Safely and Ethically Film Police Misconduct (by Teen Vogue)
“Over the past six years we’ve seen how critical video documentation can be in exposing violent and discriminatory policing, galvanizing public support around calls for accountability, and on rare occasions, even helping to secure justice in a courtroom. But far too often videos of police violence don’t lead to convictions, despite what appears to be clear evidence of abuse. While people are inclined to whip out their phones and film when they see something alarming happening, those videos are not always recorded in a way that can be used as evidence in a legal proceeding or to support advocacy tactics.”
Know Your Rights. Know Your Power. (by United We Dream)
“ICE and CBP might not respect our rights, but they cannot take away our POWER. Use these resources in case you have a run in with an immigration official.”
“The ‘Double Punishment’ for Black Undocumented Immigrants” (The Atlantic) – “Research suggests that because black people in the United States are more likely to be stopped, arrested, and incarcerated, black immigrants may be disproportionately vulnerable to deportation. The criminal-justice system acts like a “funnel” into the immigration system, said César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, a University of Denver law professor who studies the nexus of policing and immigration law. New York University law professor Alina Das said black immigrants are “targeted by criminalization”.”
“The Minneapolis Uprising in Context” (The Boston Review) – “Although this period of unrest remains marked in many people’s memories of the period, it was hardly the beginning of violent urban uprising by black Americans. In fact, U.S. cities had been beset with black rebellion since the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 […] a proper understanding of sixties-era urban rebellion—and similar rebellions now—depends on our ability to interpret it not as a wave of criminality, but as a period of sustained political violence.”
“Activist Tamika Mallory’s speech goes viral: ‘We learned violence from you!” (The Grio) – “Don’t talk to us about looting. Ya’ll are the looters!’ Mallory says in her impassioned remarks at a Minneapolis rally for George Floyd.”
Flores, J., & Román, M. J. (2009). Triple-consciousness? Approaches to Afro-Latino culture in the United States. Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies, 4(3), 319-328.
“Afro-Latinos occupy a crucial place in contemporary racial and ethnic relations in the United States and internationally. They are the group that typically falls between the cracks of prevailing classifications, and yet at the same time stands to serve as the most significant bridge across a growing, and increasingly ominous, social divide. This article seeks to locate Latinos and Latinas of African descent as products of multiple histories and suggests the need for a more integral global vision of both Blackness and Latinidad.”
Thompson-Hernández, W. (2016). “Oye, Qué Bien Juegan Los Negros,¿ No?”: Blaxicans and Basketball in Mexico. In Afro-Latin@ s in Movement (pp. 109-130). Palgrave Macmillan, New York.
In this autoethnography, Thompson-Hernández recounts his experiences as a professional basketball player in Mexico. Thompson-Hernández identifies as “Blaxican,” referring to his mixed Mexican and African–American heritage. Through analyzing his own experiences in Mexico, Thompson-Hernández sheds light on the transnational circulation of ideas about blackness and Mexican identity.
Moreno Figueroa, M. G. (2010). Distributed intensities: Whiteness, mestizaje and the logics of Mexican racism. Ethnicities, 10(3), 387-401.
“By analysing racist moments, this article engages with debates about the existence of racism in Mexico and how whiteness, as an expression of such racism, operates. It draws on empirical research that explores Mexican women’s understandings of mestizaje (mixed-race discourses) and experiences of racism. I build upon arguments that Latin American racist logics emerge from the lived experience of mestizaje and its historical development as a political ideology and a complex configuration of national identity.”
A very special thank you to Rachel who provided feedback and additional resources to include on this post.
Patricia is a former undocumented Salvadoreña who immigrated to the US at the age of eleven. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology and is an associate professor at Framingham State University, MA. Her research looks at how communities of color create different forms of capital to oppose and resist racism in predominantly white higher educational institutions. Her current project examines the effects of legality on the experiences of immigrant college students.
Ramon is a Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at Yale University. His research focuses on migrant resistance against the violence of the U.S. deportation regime. Ramon is interested in bridging scholarship and activism, looking at the ways social movements create new possibilities for knowledge.
Miriam is an undocumented Ph.D. student in Education at UC Riverside. Her research focuses on the experiences of undocumented students in the education pipeline. Miriam is committed to the educational attainment of students of color in academia.
Carolina grew up undocumented in the U.S. since the age of twelve. In 2011, she created My Undocumented Life as a platform for undocumented communities to obtain up-to-date information and resources on pursuing higher education, immigration policies, and much more. Carolina recently completed her PhD in Education at Harvard. Her current research project explores the consequences of heightened immigration enforcement on undocumented immigrants and their families.
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