Jul. 2nd, 2011

azn_jack_fiend: (Seven Samurai)
I went to the HB 87 protest this morning with my family. It was massive.  A sea of people everywhere, filling up downtown Atlanta. There must have been ten thousand people at the very least.

Honestly, I've been a little bitter at the lack of interest here on LJ in terms of immigrant rights in general and HB 87 in particular. I really appreciate everyone who has commented about these issues when I've posted on them. I also appreciate it if you quietly educated yourself more on the issue. But going to this march, seeing the strength and passion and dedication of the Latino organizations and their many allies, really helped me to calm myself on the topic and try to focus on the most constructive approaches in the future.

Here is an example of how people in Georgia are coming together against HB 87:

Atlanta LGBT activists speak out against HB 87 for Saturday's 'March for Justice'

Craig Washington, prevention programs manager at AID Atlanta:

"As a black gay man who has been HIV positive for most of my life, I embody identities deemed as taboo, different, queer, those whose bodies are demonized, criminalized and imprisoned. I do not need to face the same pitfalls as an immigrant to recognize where our paths cross," he said. "Let our chants resound to claim freedom for all, to celebrate the contributions of immigrants throughout Georgia and the nation, to declare that we share the struggle, and that only when we are all free, can we proclaim the victory."

The speeches in the beginning were kept short, and as far as I could tell (I got there a bit late) they were all in Spanish. The last was by a woman who led a prayer that reminded everyone about the "love your neighbor" part of the Bible, and closed with the Lord's Prayer. I'm not a Christian and never have been, but seeing thousands of people all gathered together all praying and crossing themselves at the end was very powerful and sent a chill down my spine. Then we marched.

I had my baby with me, so it was damn good exercise walking miles in the 90-degree weather pushing a stroller while yelling along to the chants. Luckily, the march was organized super-well, and there was a lot of bottled water being passed out.  This was one of the most family-oriented protests I've ever been to, and strollers and babies were all over the place.  My little son learned some new Spanish from the chanting! He almost got down the couplet "Obama, escucha, estamos en la lucha!" (Obama, listen up, we're in the struggle!) 

I feel like my batteries were recharged a bit on this issue. Also, a judge has already temporarily blocked two of the most flagrantly unconstitutional provisions of HB 87, which is great news.

Still, we're facing a huge uphill battle here. I'll list some factors that make it hard for this issue to gain traction:

1. Framing. The anti-immigrant coalition has created a moral frame based on "the rule of law" while obfuscating the economic and moral underpinnings of the law.  In our country, it is not acceptable to question the fact that US-based companies are allowed to outsource jobs, leaving the country to get cheap labor. That's just taken for granted that there is no legal way to stop them doing that. Yet, when people from cheaper labor countries come to the US because of economic demand, and we benefit from their labor, it's acceptable to demonize those people and call them "illegal immigrants". Companies moving jobs across the border and immigrants moving their labor across the border are treated totally differently; the people who are least to blame are blamed the most, because they have the least money.

2. Racism.  Both white racism and intra-POC racism. Not just in the sense of individual people, but also on an institutionalized level, exerting influence on what gets communicated and what doesn't.

3. Complexity. Because this issue has so much to do with business and economics, it's easy for people to think that they shouldn't have an opinion on it because they're not experts on economics.

And specific to LJ, there's demographics. I think most people in the US that are politically active on LJ live in the Northeast and West Coast. Issues in Arizona and the deep south don't affect them very much. LJ is also overwhelmingly female and immigrant rights has never been fully publicized as a feminist issue, even though it should be... seeing all the many, many women there, both as marchers and leaders, made that very obvious, and also knowing how these laws hit immigrant women twice as hard as men.

I'm not the best at advocating these sort of sensitive political issues. I get frustrated too easily. But I'd really like to work more on the idea I had about Dragon*Con. It would go something like this:

1. start a comm with informational pieces about HB 87 and links to immigrant rights organizations
2. have posts explaining why this issue SHOULD matter to everyone
3. make people coming to Dragon*Con from other states aware of HB 87
4. make people coming to Dragon*Con from other states aware of the Georgia boycott advanced by several immigrant rights organizations
5. Ask that if they do decide come to D*C, they help by making a donation to immigrants rights groups or initiatives
6. Send them a special immigrant rights badge or ribbon when they show proof of donation. Everybody loves ribbons!

However, I just don't have the time and emotional energy to do it all myself. And things like this succeed more when there are co-owners, anyway. I don't want to do something half-assed and have to give it up. So I'm going to think about it some more over the weekend, and maybe post about this to [livejournal.com profile] foc_u  or some other comm to see if anyone wants to get in on the project.

Leaving comments open in case anybody has any advice or questions. And hope everyone is having a good weekend!

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