It is an new reality we are living in these days.
We have gone from discussing the potential expansion of Medicaid to better serve Georgians and the inspiring and positive conversation of meeting the first (ever) Latina, openly gay and Muslim candidates for office in the state, to answering calls from fearful parents wondering if sending their kids to school is the safe thing to do and hosting press conferences to denounce hate, violence and discrimination.
It is the same state, the same people. What has changed is the definition of what is considered appropriate, “right to do” and neighborly.
In the last 2 months, Dekalb County has removed two teachers and a nurse for disparaging comments about their own students, many of them immigrants, including phrases like “Go back to Mexico” or worse. In Gwinnett County, a teacher received a note asking her to hang herself with her headscarf (the teacher is Muslim).
Also in Gwinnett County, Commissioner Tommy Hunter called Rep. John Lewis a “Racist Pig”among other pearls. While the Chairwoman apologized, the statement made by Commissioner Brooks was condescending and tried to trivialize Hunter’s comment by saying “He likes kicking things up”. A Suwanee-based franchise owner was denounced by employees for their treatment that included being repeatedly bullied about their heritage and threatened to have them deported if they complained about their treatment in the workplace that included harrassment and sexual assault.
Last week, in Cobb County, a diverse coalition stood up and denounced a school board member, David Banks for widely sharing a racially charged e-mail full of inacuracies about immigrants. The School Board Chairman stated that because it was an e-mail sent to a personal distribution list, his activites did not fall in legal purview of the board. Once again, an excuse to not stand up for what is right and for over 21% of students in the district that are Latino.
This is not the first time Banks shares his anti-immigrant views. In 2015, he forwarded an email calling for the curtailment of Mexican immigrants’ rights, including the right to free speech, protest, property ownership and organizing.
The attacks, harrassment and bullying are real and happening everywhere.
In this new reality and these are only a few of the many cases that have gathered media attention. There are thousands of attacks, acts of discrimination and uncomfortable exchanges happening everywhere and not being documented.
A few days ago, walking out of a restaurant, I was asked by a man where I came from. He proceeded to ask where my kids were from. Upon learning they were “from here”, he jumped in surprise and wondered how could that be possible given how they looked. My 2 daughters, staring wide-eyed did not understand what he meant.
This is the time to bridge gaps between communities, languages and cultures. This is the time we have to work together, stick together.
Many groups, alliances, coalitions are forming in the city, outside the city. Fill out your postcards, call your representatives, speak up for those that can’t, raise your hand, ask questions, clarify meanings, treat others how you would like to be treated, share your love, extend a hand, be like a duck: remain calm on the surface but paddle like hell underneath.
We leave you with a note Denice Frohman shared this in her Instragam a few days ago hoping it will bring you inspiration, strength and pride.
Get your heart ready. Get your mind redy.
Get your tribe ready. Call on your peoples.
Call up your gifts. Call in your ancestors.
Call out yourself.
Take a step back, take a step up, take a step down.
This dance is old and brand new.
Acknowledge what your traima is doing -to you,
to others. This is messy, but the work is ours.
The work is us. The work is together. Always together.
I believe in us. And I ain’t in it to lose. We goin up.
Some way, some how. – Denice Frohman
Contact us if you want a connection with an organization working specifically with an issue you care about: Immigrants’ rights, women’s rights, workers’ rights, Asian-American services, Latino families, domestic violence victims, unaccompanied minors, refugees, etc.