This week's blog comes to us from Cafe Con Leche's Special Projects Manager, Belinda Rodriguez.
On Friday, January 27 president Donald Trump signed an executive order blocking citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US for 90 days. The order also shuts down refugee settlement for 120 days and bans Syrian refugees from entering the US until further notice.
The very next day, thousands of New Yorkers gathered at JFK airport to defend two Iraqi refugees who were being detained by Customs and Border Patrol. Images of the crowded demonstration flooded social media and people all over the United States responded with rallies and protests at their local airports. Most news sources cite at least 10 protests in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, Dallas, New York's JFK, Raleigh, Houston, Seattle, Portland, and Atlanta. In Pittsburgh, local groups including CAIR-Pittsburgh, Casa San José, ANSWER Pittsburgh and the Thomas Merton Center (full list below) banded together to organize an Emergency Solidarity Rally on Saturday, with nearly a thousand people participating. An additional rally was held at Pittsburgh International Airport on Sunday, with hundreds in attendance. Pittsburghers even started a petition to rename Pittsburgh International Airport after Fred Rogers, the local children’s television personality famous for welcoming his neighbors (it currently has 12,000 signatures). The widespread mobilizations emerged in direct response to the Muslim ban, but also in response to witnessing the first week of the Trump administration in action.
Last week showed us that Trump is as dangerous as many of us feared. Between the Muslim ban, other executive actions, and the way he has conducted himself as president, he has demonstrated that he is very serious about threatening the rights and wellbeing of immigrants, refugees, people of color, women, queer people, working class people, religious minorities, survivors of sexual assault and many other vulnerable groups.
Much more important than that, last week showed us that people living in the United States are ready to fight for each other. What the president and his administration do on a daily basis is out of our control, but the way we respond and show up for each other is up to us. It will not always be easy, but showing up in support of each other is the only option we have if we want to retain our humanity and affirm our responsibility to each other as inhabitants of this country. There are opportunities here too, to build connection and solidarity in places where it was weak or missing before. With that collaboration and solidarity comes power, exactly the kind we need to fight for a better future.
Now is the time to hold our loved ones close, to take care of ourselves as we navigate this altered reality, and to embrace a deep sense of responsibility for protecting and caring for our neighbors -- black, white, brown, femme, queer, undocumented, poor, traumatized, Muslim and Jewish.
We all need to think of creative ways to support ourselves and each other going forward, whether it is organizing a weekly potluck with friends, offering our skills in service of our communities, participating in demonstrations, or making intentional efforts to get to know our neighbors better. If you are looking for some concrete next steps, we recommend:
- Following and supporting the groups who organized Saturday’s NO BAN! NO WALL! Emergency Solidarity Rally: CAIR-Pittsburgh, Thomas Merton Center, Casa San José, ANSWER Pittsburgh, Party for Socialism and Liberation - Pittsburgh, Jewish Voice For Peace - Pittsburgh and supported by Alliance for Police Accountability-APA, Pittsburgh Student Solidarity Coalition - PSSC, Pittsburgh United and Veterans for Peace PGH.
- Visiting Casa San José and the Latino Family Center if you have concerns about your or your family members’ immigration status and wellbeing in this moment
- Calling ICE officials every day to demand the release of Pittsburgh community leader Martin Esquivel Hernandez
- Educating yourself on connections between immigrant rights, black lives, LGBTQ rights, gender violence, climate justice and any other social justice issue you can think of. Our liberation is tied to everyone else’s -- this was true before and it is especially true now.
- Taking a yoga class with our favorite Pittsburgh instructor Felicia Lane Savage
- Cooking your favorite traditional recipes and sharing them with friends
Yes, mi gente, resistance includes celebrating your culture! You better believe we are going to continue blogging about art, food, and all wonderfulness that is Latinx culture throughout this mess!
Café Con Leche
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