Each week we highlight one person or group as the Drop the I-Word Friday Friend. Our Friends are special advocates who take a stand for undocumented immigrants and against the i-word.
At 9-years-old, Sam is our youngest Friday Friend to be featured so far. For his fourth grade school community service project in Tucson, Arizona, he's made a video (see above) asking everyone he knows to sign the pledge to Drop the I-Word. The video is smart, charming, very moving and great for beginning to talk about the i-word with young people and grown-up allies alike. We love it and are grateful for it.
Sam and his mother, Jennifer Roth Gordon shared with me that he attends Davis Bilingual Magnet Elementary School where he also benefits from raza studies curriculum. Sadly, it's the last public immersion bilingual school left in Tucson. Sam's class starts the morning reciting the Mayan concept/saying, En Lak Ech (You are my other me). They say in Spanish:
Tú eres mi otro yo. Si te daño a ti, me daño a mi mismo. Si te respeto a ti, me respeto a mi mismo.
Translated: "You are my other me. If I harm you, I harm myself. If I respect you, I respect myself."
Sam says it's important for kids and everyone to know why they should not use the i-word; that the word hurts people's feelings and that people come to the United States for many reasons. He's had to collect newspaper clippings for his project and says, "I feel sad and bad for the people who are being are being called illegal ... I know the i-word is used on people that come from Mexico and other places where people lack resources." Most of Sam's friends at school are Mexican American.
I asked Sam's mom why she thought it was important to talk to her child about this difficult topic and what she might advise to other parents. According to Roth Gordon, who teaches a class called "Race, Ethnicity and the American Dream," at the University of Arizona, "Issues of race and oppression are important concepts to introduce to kids early on. Among white families, it's a good idea for parents to talk to their kids so they are comfortable addressing it and do not learn to ignore it especially in this so-called 'colorblind' era that we are in." She wants Sam who has two younger adopted siblings that are African American, to have a good foundation for deeper race discussions later on and to talk about real history.
Sam 's project is due next Friday. Let's help him reach as many people as possible he wants to see how many different places he can reach. So far, people have seen the video in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France and England! Sign the Drop the I-Word pledge and click here to let Sam know you signed it.
Do you know someone who'd make a good Drop the I-Word Friday Friend? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.