A Divided Nation and Immigration to America
Berenice Balderas, Nida Fayyaz, Lucy Schiller, Marla Stamps
Audre Lorde's essay "The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action" was a proactive text that closely relates to the goals of our interventions. Lorde argues that silence is oppressive, and no longer silencing oneself might cause fear of being visible. In relation to the intervention, we are attempting to speak up about a cause that resonates deeply with us. By doing so, we also want to engage our fellow UIC peers. As Lorde says in her speech:"... It is not difference which immobilizes us, but silence. And there are so many silences to be broken".
Overall it does not matter where you come from, what you believe in, or how you self-identify. We are all human beings and therefore should be able to unite and work together. The United States is a melting pot, built by immigrants. Therefore, we should not go against one another. At one point in time, a majority of us were immigrants. We- Nida and Marla- focused our intervention on the idea that "oppression Olympics" ignores intersectionality. "Oppression Olympics" assumes that one marginalized group is more oppressed than the other, which further divides people.And intersectionality is a theory that, in part, considers how all social identities are related through a system of oppression. Therefore, all marginalized groups are affected by the system of injustice. It is increasingly important that all marginalized groups ban together to combat the system. Nida and Marla created two posters about "intersectionality" and our position to that concept: one shows our drawing, which depicts intersectionality as a busy crossroads, and the other board asks a question. During the public intersection, as in this space, we want people to come up and write how they identify and what causes, ideas or issues they support. We want to get across the message that, regardless of your social identity, you can still be in support of others with whom you do not socially identify.
Soon after his election as President of the United States, one of Donald J. Trump's first acts was to repeal the program called "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival" (DACA), implemented by Barack Obama's administration. Young adults who were brought to America without documentation as children and met the program requirements under DACA were allowed to stay. Ironically, turning away undocumented immigrants who work hard and simply want a better life goes against the very heart and reason America stands today. We- Berenice and Lucy- worked on a project that touched on this idea: America was built on immigration. It stands today because of hard working immigrants and people displaced here who paved the way for future generations to have a better life. To get our message across, we used a colorful sign with the United States of America painted as the flag. We then dressed in red, white, and blue while holding signs that read:" I am Mexican and I am also American." "I am Chinese but I am also American." The goal was to engage other students to simply see that America us immigration. It's the very definition of a country that should stand and fight for the full human rights of hard working immigrants.
Observations: We believe people want to be involved, but there is fear in being visible because you feel vulnerable. By doing these interventions, we made ourselves visible, vulnerable, and heard. That is ultimately the point of protest. During the Student Center East intervention on October 31, 2017, when we explained our intervention to participants, they said at first:" But I stand with everyone". This showed that we generally don't think or speak methodically about which groups of people specifically need our support. We believe we are good people so we assume we stand with everyone. In reality, it's important to be able to name the people whom you support. If you're not able to do this, you're not really supporting them because you're not aware of their specific issues. We all need to stimulate an environment that enables our peers and allies to fight for injustice and to realize that their voice is important.
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We want people to think about who they stand with, which could very likely be a group that they are not a member of. We stress the idea of strength in unity instead of division tactics. This is very similar to the current events going on in the National Football League (NFL) and other leagues. In the NFL, many players have chosen to link arms during the national anthem to advocate for unity, social justice and equality. Many players chose to link arms after President Donald Trump’s negative comments towards Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protest.
Professional players stand up for the rights of different ethnic races around America showing that America is meant to be a land for all. For example, Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, sat during the national anthem in protest for racial justice. With elected representatives like our very own President creating road blocks in the path of injustice, many players are banding together to show that America should be a land for all. Similarly, Green Bay Packer, Aaron Rodgers demonstrated his disagreement with some of the ideals of the national anthem. He decided to not stand when the song played at the start of a game. He hoped that spectators would join along with him and fellow players by linking together during the national anthem instead of placing a hand on their heart. Rodgers explained:
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This is about unity and love and growing together as a society and starting a conversation around something that may be a little bit uncomfortable for people. But we’ve got to come together and talk about these things and grow as a community, as a connected group of individuals in our society, and we’re going to continue to show love and unity, and this week we’re going to ask the fans to join in as well and come together and show people that we can be connected and we can grow together.
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To link arms is significant because although the players are not saying words, they are showing through the gestures of solidarity how together we are able to make a change in the country. Yet both athletes’ stances are not without repercussions. Their critics respond that, instead of focusing on other issues, they should focus on the game. However, they are human beings too. Given the platform they have and their influence, athletes could very well make a difference in the progress of social movements. They are well positioned to bring high visibility and national publicity to social issues that plague Americans. We believe that there will be more athletes like Colin Kaepernick and Aaron Rodgers and human beings such as Larissa Martinez to help out. Martinez was the valedictorian at McKinney Boyd High School and now attends Yale University. She is a hard-working undocumented immigrant who has proven that she is an embodiment of what America strives to be. Yet she would be one of the many children illegally brought here to be deported. High profile athletes like Aaron Rodgers and Colin Kaepernick and college student Larissa Martinez help us see the necessity of paying attention to social justice issues in order to work toward a united America.