Today is September 5, 2017 and the day that the United States attorney general declared the rescinding of The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an American immigration policy that allowed some individuals who entered the country illegally as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and to be eligible for a work permit. DACA allowed children brought to this country by parents seeking refuge from war torn and oppressive countries to have an opportunity at a better life, through education and employment.
But what does today really signify? It signifies the stagnant state of discrimination that we thought we have transcended, the ignorance of the “superior” few dictating to the “inferior” many through misapplication and abuse of authority. Year after year, generation after generation, it’s the same game with a different name, the same genre with a different title, the same agenda with different players, thus, the same results.
When will our political leaders realize that America never was a “white” country. There were already indigenous tribes peacefully inhabiting this land.
The truth is, this country was established through the same desire and necessity to be free from an oppressive dictator, which was then, the king of Great Britain. Through force this land was conquered, and through the intelligence and unity of the 13 colonies was the constitution ratified.
The difference now from then, was that the colonies had the benefit of formal education, which greatly contributed to their success.
Today, most immigrants arrive without the benefit of formal education and find themselves surrounded by a very educated society, which you would think would be supportive and accepting.
After all, our founding fathers are technically immigrants. And it’s absurd that our political leaders would not extend the same grace to immigrants today.
I was born in this country, in Tacoma, WA, and so were my parents. My mother and father were born to my immigrant grandparents in Camden, NJ, who came to this country from China, Italy, Africa, the West Indies, and South America to name a few.
I am a proud descendant of immigrants, and whether people choose to accept it or not, chances are, unless you are a direct descendant of the native people who already inhabited this continent, you are a descendant of immigrants as well.
When will we as a people (human race) see each other as equal?, whether we come from the east or west, the north or south, we are all endowed with the spirit of our creator, regardless of color or creed, gender or ethnic background, we all have the responsibility to live in harmony with one another, and to aid our fellow inhabitants in the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness.
How do we take personal responsibility for the condition of our lives, and the condition of our communities, and our country? We do it by taking personal responsibility for our own thoughts, beliefs, and actions.
Our country is as divided as it is because we each are a part of the collective consciousness that makes up its life force, and through our active participation or lack thereof, we either help toward bringing balance and liberation to ourselves and our communities, or continue to repeat the cycle of social discrimination, and racial inequality.
I, myself, used to be very ignorant and unaware of not only my actions and potential, but also the major issues that effect and face not only our immigrant brothers and sisters, but our fellow Americans as well. I have realized through the lessons of my life thus far, including my time spent incarcerated, that the only true way to change our circumstances is to change ourselves, and that by transforming the way we think and the way we view each other and our future, we can change the course of this beloved country and our experience within and through evolution.
For what good do we do, if we identify and become aware of the problems, but don’t seek to find a solution or contribution to the same.
The power is in the people, and the government only maintains power through the consent of the governed. If we don’t like what we see, and what has always been, we have to change our government and the people we place therein, until we can come together as a common people. I hope that in these words you may find inspiration, courage, and support to become more involved in the push for equality, balance, and peace. You are not alone, even those of us who have transformed and awoken to our higher purpose, who are yet still incarcerated. We walk with you toward a better experience for this country and our world.
* * *
Formerly Incarcerated Group Healing Together (F.I.G.H.T.) was started by a group of Asian & Pacific Islander (API) men who were at one time incarcerated in the Washington state prison system. F.I.G.H.T. is a direct outgrowth of the organizing that many of us did through different API groups in different prisons. This organizing built deep bonds of unity among us. Together we learned about our own diverse cultures and political histories, life experiences, and perspectives. We also created cultural celebrations featuring various forms of traditional arts, like language, music, and dance.
Upon being released, we stayed committed to continuing to support each other, whether inside or outside of the prison system. We support both current and formerly incarcerated APIs through mentoring, advocacy, outreach, and political education. We encourage each other to embrace positivity, compassion, strength, hope, confidence, and building healthy lives and healthy communities, while breaking the cycle of mass incarceration. For more information, visit www.fightwa.org.