Why I'm Marching for Immigrant Workers this May Day
When the Boston bombings happened two weeks ago, many of us were left feeling vulnerable, scared and mourning for those who suffered loss as consequence of these acts.
Many rose to the occasion and gave of themselves to help out the victims. Others, and I like to think they are a small group, acted predictably prejudiced, and made racist remarks about immigrants, muslims and people of color.
Don't Let Racism Hold Us Back
We shouldn’t let this smaller group undermine passage of crucial and long-awaited changes to our broken immigration system.
Racist remarks suggesting that all immigrants and/or muslims are violent and that they shouldn’t be admitted to live in this country distract us from the fact that an estimated 11 million hardworking people with families and community ties should no longer live in fear simply because they are undocumented.
This prejudiced message ignores the vast contributions of immigrants like myself and my brother. According to those who deny immigrants’ basic humanity, my brother and I should have spent time in jail for having crossed the border 30 years ago (that's my passport photo from when I immigrated, above).
My brother, a transplant surgeon, saves lives every day in Philadelphia. I graduated from law school with a dream of dedicating my career to improving the lives of those who are forced to live in the margins.
We Can Create Peace and Prosperity for All
My brother and I have been fortunate indeed reaching high professional degrees through the hard work of my mother and my aunt, immigrants too. Yet we are not so unique.
The immigrant experience in the United States is full of people like us who become part of the tapestry of human beings living in the United States with the desire to prosper and contribute. We immigrants are hard working people. We run businesses, join faith communities and raise families with the struggles of any other American citizen, and yes, sometimes, like any other American citizen, we fall from grace.
But to create the prosperous and peaceful communities we all want requires a commitment to self-reflection, rather than reacting to violence with more violence and blame of innocent people.
One way to foster that self-reflection is to take a quiet moment to understand how our lives connect with the world around us.
Blaming or finding a culprit for our suffering only further divides us and separates us from deep connection with one another. It’s a tactic that has been used throughout history to divide and conquer people, including the workers we honor on International Workers' Day, May 1st.
Show Your Solidarity
So don’t buy into it. Show that you are for peace, come out and march on May 1st. Come join me in Oakland, California, or find an event in your area. Stand up for a message of inclusivity, don’t let hate be the driving force. Let your love for one another shine.