Starting this month, we’ll blog weekly about updates on the Drop the I-Word campaign. We’ll bring you stories from the people most impacted, partner and endorser profiles, and developments from across the country. And if you haven’t done so already, go sign the pledge and ask others to do the same!
This month as we commemorate both Human Rights Day and International Migrants Day, we kick off our weekly blogging by recognizing some Drop the I-Word endorsers that are working to change the immigrant rights conversation and to reclaim human dignity.
One recent endorser we admire is The Sound Strike. Art is understood universally to unite people and through this campaign artists have answered an urgent call to stand together for civil and human rights. As a collective, Sound Strike artists are boycotting performing in Arizona due to the passage of SB 1070, which essentially makes racial profiling legal and has now inspired other copycats. Entertainment venues and business in Arizona can’t profit if Arizona peddles hate and disrespects basic human values. The campaign has engaged artists from around the world that are able to reach their own audiences with this vital human rights message. Cypress Hill, Juanes, Conor Oberst, Los Tigres del Norte, Rage Against the Machine, Cafe Tacvba, Micheal Moore, Kanye West, Calle 13, Joe Satriani, Serj Tankian, Rise Against, Ozomatli, Sabertooth Tiger, Massive Attack, One Day as a Lion, Street Sweeper Social Club, Spank Rock, Sonic Youth and Tenacious D are some of the artists that initially came together to boycott, but that list is growing.
The Sound Strike recognizes the power of words to divide people as well. Organizer Javier Gonzalez says they endorsed Drop the I-Word because, “using the word illegal plants the seed used later to justify hatred against immigrants an strikes a blow against the fight for equality.”
On Dec. 18 in Phoenix The Sound Strike will join local organizations for a traditional Posada Celebration with families suffering from immigrant attacks. They have committed close to $20,000 to help purchase staple foods and gifts for children and their families and they are asking for your help.
The National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC) is a network of over 100 community-based, Latino and Caribbean immigrant-led organizations and was our very first partner on Drop the I-Word. Since last year we have been inspired by NALACC’s Somos/We Are initative to motivate immigrants to take action in reclaiming their humanity and in supporting legislation that truly reflects what immigrants are worth and deserve. The Somos initiative was launched on International Migrants Day in 2009. Angela Sanbrano, NALACC’s Board President, stated, “Sadly, the struggle to achieve full recognition of the humanity of the migrant person continues, as evidenced by epithets such as “illegal” and “criminal alien” which dehumanize immigrants and deny our real contributions to this society,” Ms. Sanbrano continued. “This negative and mistaken view of our community has been the primary reason why real, sensible and humane immigration reform has eluded us to date.”
Check out this video created by Boston’s NALACC members for the Somos initiative.
Last week the General Council on Religion and Race (GCORR) of the United Methodist Church kicked off their own initiative committing to get 10,000 members to pledge to Drop the I-Word. Reaching out to people of faith with the reminder that, “No Child of God is Illegal,” they are driving home the message that humanity and dignity should be recognized and language should reflect basic values. GCORR is dedicated to promoting racial equality, justice and advanced race relations for a brighter future for generations to come. Jeanine Jones of GCORR shared the following words with us:
Words carry power. It’s that simple. They can give hope, or they can incite and intimidate. As a communicator for the General Commission on Religion and Race of The United Methodist Church, our agency focuses its work on moving the church from racism to relationships. Doing that requires communicating in ways that reflect God’s love. So this campaign is uniquely suited to the work of GCORR. The i-word is racially charged. It has an impact on our attitudes towards immigrants and non-immigrants alike, especially people of color. The immigration debate is happening in our churches as well as public places, and sometimes is accompanied by ugly rhetoric. By asking our faith communities to take a stand on the i-word, we can lower that race-filled rhetoric, raising the opportunity for us to focus on the real issue—humane immigration reform.
This month, National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) blogger Angela Kim asked readers to Drop the I-Word and demand respect for humanity. She writes,
Within the public discourse about the immigration debate, the terms “illegal” or “illegal alien” is heard and read very commonly. When you watch CNN, or any news broadcast or read the New York Times, LA Times, or any other readings about the immigration debate, you may have noticed how casually the term is used. Because of such common usage, the negative implications of using the I-word are often overlooked.
The National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) is a recent campaign endorser, and we are so thrilled that they have joined and expressed such passion for the fight to Drop the I-Word. NAKASEC was founded in 1994 during a political turning point for Korean Americans. The Los Angeles civil unrest of April 29, 1992, and the subsequent anti-immigrant wave in Congress, precipitated by Prop 187, posed tremendous challenges to Korean Americans as people of color, working families and immigrants. The state of America at that time led a group of local community-based organizations to come together to form NAKASEC with the purpose of projecting a national progressive voice on major civil rights and immigrant rights issues and promoting the full participation of Korean Americans with the greater goal of building a national movement for social change.
NAKASEC is based in Los Angeles with a D.C. office and affiliates in L.A. (Korean Resource Center) and Chicago (Korean American Resource & Cultural Center).
We look forward to sharing more about our partners and endorsers in the weeks ahead as well as sharing individual stories. Stay tuned.