One of my bad ass friends has dedicated her career to helping detained immigrant youth.
We often talk about the systems in place that criminalize minorities and youth who are literally running for their lives. Their stories have so much in common with our families, communities, and friends’ stories.
When it comes to immigration no ever wants to abandon their ecosystem without a good reason. We know what is happening in South America. We know what is happening in Central America. We know what is happening in the world. Yet we are still surprised to see an unaccompanied 11-year-old risking their life at the border. Not only are we surprised. but then we also chose to criminalize it. We cannot comprehend that we would make the same decision if the roles were reversed.
If you knew your kids would be targeted to join a gang or possibly raped as soon as they were able to walk, and you would have no protection, would you stay? If you were constantly being extorted would you stay? If there were no option other than to die or kill would you stay?
Having whole families, little children, teenagers immigrating is a radical act to live. And the choice to live should be a basic human right not something we criminalize.
Having people steal food and clothes or sell weed are radical acts to live.
It perhaps would not be an issue if our government were not so involved in the development or heavy contributions of these systems, but here we are. It perhaps would not be our issue if we worked together to understand and deconstruct what no longer serves our society. But that is hard to do when there are people that benefit way too much from the existing systems.
And because these systems persist, people like me, my friends, my family, and my neighbors are always one step away from being homeless, one step away from being wrongfully incarcerated, one step away from being criminalized while trying to simply just live.
We have more in common with those we criminalize than those we idolize. We hope this piece starts thoughts and conversations that need to be had.
- 10 oz./yd², 100% cotton canvas
- 22" webbed handles
- Bottom gusset