This past May Day, a local youth-led Drop the I-Word campaign was launched in Charlotte, North Carolina. The efforts are spearheaded by United 4 The Dream (U4TD), the youth group of the Latin American Coalition. The students rallied more than 1,200 people to sign pledge cards to drop the i-word in just a matter of hours.
Guatemalan-born student Elver told local Spanish outlet Mi Gente,”We want for people to no longer use these words to refer to us, that way the media will no longer have an excuse to use them.”
The young people behind this local campaign are fighting for immigrant rights and dignity because they feel the impact if the i-word and how it creates a toxic and unsafe climate. They say that the bullying of Latinos and others perceived to be immigrants with slurs like the i-word, “wetback,” and “alien” is getting out of hand. According to the group, Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, Tom Perez, recently talked to local students about bullying and harassment in Charlotte due to a rise in civil rights abuse claims in the region.
The group is already taking flack from local detractors. The local Fox affiliate that reported on the campaign asked city council and county commissioners for their reactions. Only Commissioner Bill James responded, saying, “I will continue to use the term illegal because they are illegal.”
Despite naysayers, the students are resolved to target local media and elected officials to sign the pledge to drop the i-word starting next week. According to 16-year-old Loan Tran, dropping the i-word is important “so that the actual issues surrounding immigration and immigrant communities can actually be resolved without biased language being thrown around.”
We’ll keep you posted on developments in Charlotte. Wherever you are, you can join our efforts this month by asking five of your friends to sign the pledge to drop the i-word here.
Lee este artículo en español: “La Juventud de Charlotte, NC. Consigue apoyo a Ningún Ser Humano es Ilegal”