Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.
January 25, 2018
How do you explain to your children what the President of the United States means when he asks why he would want, “all these people from s**thole countries?” And, how do you explain why he subsequently stated that the United States should admit more people from countries like Norway? As a parent, you must painfully tell them the truth. You must explain that the President of the United States made racist, divisive and white supremacist comments in a national immigration policy discussion at the highest level of our federal government; the same federal government charged with protecting the constitution of the United States.
As a mom, I explained this to my children yesterday. I explained to my children that “these people” specifically referenced Haitians and other immigrants from African countries. To put it plainly, Black and Brown people were being dehumanized while Whites from countries like Norway were deemed worthy of becoming Americans. We also discussed the reversal of the Obama administration’s humanitarian Temporary Protection Status program, and how nearly 200,000 people from El Salvador are now at risk. My children have a Salvadoran heritage, so we feel this deeply. We also discussed that the lives of 700,000 DREAMERS, who look just like them, would hinge, in part, on these national immigration policy discussions.
It was one of those hard conversations you have as a parent of color. One in which you know your children might not be completely ready for but you also know you must have because your children of color will live the truth of racism, discrimination, and dehumanization in America. You know this because this is also your truth.
As social justice advocates we are eternal optimists. Given our history, we must carry hope for the future. And, we must raise our children to have hope for the future. As an American, I know that America was always meant to be better than this. As a mom, I believe with all my heart that we are better than this. As a student of social change, I also know that we outnumber those who would strive to dehumanize and exploit our talent and brilliance. Some of us are truly native to the Americas. Some of us are immigrants from the very cradle of human civilization. All of us contribute on a daily basis to the true greatness of America.
We will not go quietly into the night. We will resist and we will employ all of our resources to protect the most vulnerable among us, including the DREAMERS. We will teach our children that we are a nation of immigrants and to represent the true beauty, talent, brilliance, and justice embodied in the promise of our nation. As advocates, educators, and parents we must demand nothing less.
Yesterday, we commemorated the legacy of a great American — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His memory is more significant now than ever, and continues to represent the hope, optimism and love that gives social justice pioneers the strength to continue our work. In light of his legacy, we must reflect on where we are as Americans and where we wish to be. I hope that yesterday was a day of reflection and a day of action for you all. Whether helping to rebuild schools, tutor a child in need, bring a meal to a senior, or bring legal aid to an undocumented immigrant… we cannot sit idly by and let the promise of hope dwindle. We are stronger than this.
Josefina Alvarado Mena, Esq.