Story #4 DC Storyleague December 2013, Tournament

In which I pretend to be someone else on the internet

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Save the American Dream

Me and about 500 of my closest friends (though one report said over 1000 participants, I didn’t seem like THAT many) showed up at Dupont Circle on Saturday at noon to demonstrate our solidarity for Wisconsin workers and labor everywhere. The rally was just one of over 50 actions around the country coordinated by moveon.org, Jobs With Justice, and other groups under the name “Rally to Save the American Dream.”(There was at least one rally in every state.)

Freedom is Waking up Wisconsin

There were teachers (lots of teachers), police officers, fire fighters, veterans, flight attendants, and union electricians. Some people were Wisconsin transplants, other just showed up in solidarity.

Unions are an American Right

Everyone got really excited when Van Jones, author of The Green-Collar Economy, took the stage. He said that today was the beginning of a new movement to take back the American Dream and when the crowd booed at the mention of the Tea Party, he stopped them and said, “They are a part of the movement, too, they just don’t know it yet.” I, tweeting the event like a mad woman, of course tweeted that sentence into the universe. Little did I know I would get some serious backlash from it!

Here is what I said: The tea party movement are out sisters and brothers too they just don’t know it yet #wearewi #dc 

Here is the response I got from some lady who describes herself as SW Regional Director on ResistNet. Dedicated to the preservation of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Rule of Law.

LadyFyreAZ @valentinasweet Lmao… you wish! Have a nice day

So I said 

@LadyFyreAZ also you might want to watch your language and act a little more your age.

And she said

 @LadyFyreAZ @valentinasweet What language? U mean like “Koch Suckers” signs seen throughout your protests? Liberals can’t spk w/o obsenities. Hypocrite

and also

@valentinasweet Predictable progessive ad hominem tu quoque. Grow up.
Care about Educators
Ok, now I know one should not engage which such people but I was actually really surprised that some person I don’t know would attack me and my beliefs personally via twitter! So let’s focus on some more positive stuff. Like Van Jones who continued talking about our tea party brothers and sisters, saying about them that “We have a movement in America that hates the government, but loves and needs government services, just like our folks do,” he continued, “They don’t want to live in neighborhoods where there are no fire stations and no police and children are going to schools with 40 kids in the classrooms, six books and no chalk. We’re fighting for them, too.”
In front of the white house chanting "Obama! put on your comfy shoes"
Jones also said that  “today the dream will be reborn in America…The dream that we can work in this country and get somewhere, that we can stand up for each other, be one country…We don’t have to be rolled over and pushed around, disappointed and spat on, anymore.” After about an hour of speeches half of us made our way to the white house, chanting a long the way.
Solidarity
Our day of protest is over but hundreds of Wisconsin union members and supporters are still fighting. The 15 democratic senators are still in out of the state, denying the body quorum needed for Governor Walker. Similar proposals are popping up in Arizona, Ohio, and other states. This is too important to ignore.

New Beginnings

I recently accepted a job as bilingual program associate on the Health and Safety Team at the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs in Washington DC. Their (or should I say our) mission is to “improve the quality of life for migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families by providing advocacy for the member organizations that serve them”– which they’ve been doing since 1971. The Health & Safety Team specifically is funded by EPA and OSHA and has two main programs: one that focuses on pesticide safety, and on on heat stroke prevention. It’s pretty much exactly what I want to do: work with Latino immigrants, write articles, blog, help write prevention programs and travel to farm sites.

I will actually be traveling to California next week for a conference/training with AFOP and Americorps (who help do the prevention programs on site). This is where I am going:

National Chavez Center

This is the National Chavez Center in Tehachapi, California. La Paz is where Cesar “lived and labored during his last quarter century. It was his spiritual harbor removed from often bitter struggles in agricultural valleys and big cities. Here he worked, strategized, and planned.” This whole thing made me think of the graduation speech I prepared for the Latino graduation, La celebracion Latina… I did evoke the spirit of Chavez…I won’t bore you with the whole speech but let me show you an excerpt:

We all know the slogan that was chanted all across this country, and even the world, the slogan that invited the United States back as a respectable member of the world community, the slogan that changed the face of this country, and hopefully the future of this country as well. That slogan was YES WE CAN.

But, Obama and his staff of clever speechwriters didn’t come up with that line. No, it was Latino people. More specifically it was a Latina woman. Like every piece of lettuce you eat in your salad, or tomato you put on your burger, and in fact every food you eat at any restaurant, even here in Ann Arbor, Latinos touched it first.

……..

Chavez continued to organize proving everyone wrong that indeed it could be done until he got to ARIZONA in the 1972.  Arizona had just passed a bill that would outlaw strikes and boycotts of farm workers during harvest time. Chavez and the Union went to Arizona to get the governor to veto that bill. The bill passed anyway and Chavez commenced a fast.

Larger crowds gathered around him every day during his fast to be in the presence of a man who dared to stand up against the state government…Cesar was been taken to the hospital because of the effects of the fast. But guess what, he did not stop.


When he became weaker, Dolores Huerta, who co-founded the United Farm Workers said to him:  it CAN be done, SI SE PUEDE. And that became the slogan for the United Farm Workers and many millions of other disenfranchised people around the world. It was about remembering that indeed, it can be done, even in your weakest moment.

So this famous slogan went from SI SE PUEDE, or It can be done in the 70s to YES WE CAN in 2004 when Obama was running for Senate in Illinois. But that is not enough for me. This were the commitment I need from you comes in. I don’t want you to say yes we can, or si se puede, I want you to say YES WE WILL.

You have the tools now, now that you have educated yourself, now that you have exposed yourself to so many different perspectives, now that you have learned about work ethic, endurance and hard work. You have learned about friendship, and love, and heartbreak, you have learned about staying up all night to finish a paper, and staying up all night to be with people you care about. You have learned how to ask questions, how to stand up for yourself, and how to take leadership and responsibility.

And now, there is no going back.

You must always, always, always stand up for those who have less than you and those who are suffering. You have the responsibility to stand up for what is right because in the famous words of Martin Luther Kind, Injustice ANYWHERE is a threat to justice EVERYWHERE.

Cesar Chavez

 

Be an idealist, be a dreamer, if you see someone being treated unfairly: speak up, if you see sexist of homophobic behavior: say something, if you see racism or discrimination (both covert and overt) don’t stay quiet! This is the commitment I want from you. YOU WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

Whatever field you chose to go into, remember this, you can make a difference. Si Se Puede!

TO close I want to use the words of Cesar Chaves who said: “Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.”

You have become educated, and hopefully you are full of pride and free of fears. And when you walk out of those doors behind you after the ceremony, you will be walking towards our future. Take it. Take that future and make it a better place.

So I guess it’s my turn now- after a few months delay that is- I will go and actually put my money where my mouth is. Wish me luck! Also… come visit! 🙂

DREAM ACT March DC

July is birthday month, and what better way to celebrate than going to a massive protest in DC. Last week Jamie and I DROVE the 9 hours with a group from 1Michigan to march on capitol hill to “encourage” the legislature to finally pass the DREAM ACT.

21 dreamers  (including one dreamer from the Michigan group) got arrested after sitting in some of the legislator’s offices, including Arizona Senator John McCain.

While it felt empowering to march around Capitol Hill and the White House, the fight is far from over. It felt encouraging to see legislators waving from heir offices but they need to act. Politicians on both sides of the aisle (even McCain who promised the National Council of La Raza to push the DREAM ACT through if he became president two years ago) have pledged to support this legislation. But of course, there are also opponents on both sides: the Republicans, well no need to explain there, and the Democrats because they are afraid it would overshadow larger immigration reform that is necessary.

Thankfully there is some movement with the Arizona Law (from AZCentral):

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton has issued a preliminary injunction preventing several sections of Arizona’s new immigration law from becoming law, at least until the courts have a chance to hear the full case.

Key parts of Senate Bill 1070 that will not go into effect Thursday:

• The portion of the law that requires an officer make a reasonable attempt to determine the immigration status of a person stopped, detained or arrested if there’s reasonable suspicion they’re in the country illegally.

• The portion that creates a crime of failure to apply for or carry “alien-registration papers.”

• The portion that makes it a crime for illegal immigrants to solicit, apply for or perform work. (This does not include the section on day laborers.)

• The portion that allows for a warrantless arrest of a person where there is probable cause to believe they have committed a public offense that makes them removable from the United States.

Bolton’s ruling followed hearings on three of seven federal lawsuits challenging SB 1070. Plaintiffs include the U.S. Department of Justice, the American Civil Liberties Union, Phoenix and Tucson police officers, municipalities, illegal immigrants and non-profit groups.

She denied legal requests by Gov. Jan Brewer, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and several other defendants seeking to have the lawsuits dismissed because, they argued, the plaintiffs did not prove that they would be harmed by the law if it went into effect.

Hopefully this legislation will continue to move into the right direction (as in disappear). One more picture for good measure: Happy double birthday!