Friday, June 29, 2018

Why Are We Here?

Below is a preview of my brief planned remarks at the Families Belong Together rally, which I was asked to emcee. Details for the rally are in the poster.

Good morning. 

Before we get to our wonderful speakers, who have been so generous with their time today, I want to say just a few words about why we are here; or at least, why I’m here. I’m here by accident of birth and luck. I’m here only as a guest on Native land, on colonized land, which does not belong to me simply because the United States government has granted me citizenship. 

Gunalchéesh.

I am here to bring what limited perspective I can to this issue, and to gather with like-minded people who share my concerns.

I am here as a mother. I have carried two children inside of my body. And I know—as only a mother can—what that means. I am here in solidarity, empathy, and pain for mothers and fathers who have been forcibly separated from their children; whose children have been lost indefinitely to bureaucracy at the hands of armed state actors. Armed state actors who have taken infants out of their mothers’ arms. In America. They have done this on our behalf. In our name. In the name of our country. 


And it is appalling.

I am here as a lawyer, albeit one who knows little about immigration law. But I am privileged beyond measure to have been gifted an education that feels more relevant than ever in this moment. To understand what's at stake as the United States Constitution—the founding document of our democracy—is stretched to the breaking point by those who would defy its promise and undermine its dignity. I understand that laws are temporary, fungible, and only as righteous and good as the higher moral authority that they reflect in executing our social compact; and to which all laws should be held accountable.

I am here as a Jew and an immigrant. The Jewish people have been driven from their homes since time immemorial. Only three generations of Americans separate me from those who were rounded up, caged, detained, and ultimately killed; also, by the way, at the hands and guns of state actors following orders, following the law, and wearing uniforms emblazoned with the authority of the state.

I am here in white skin and acknowledge the protection and privilege it affords me. The families we are rallying for today, by and large, do not have the protection of white skin. And please, let's not pretend that white skin makes no difference here. White skin in 2018 America is protective armor. And those of us who walk around inside that armor have a very simple, binary decision to make: will we continue to passively enable white supremacy, or will we actively work to dismantle it? 


I’m here for the latter.

I'm here as a concerned citizen who recognizes that we can and must care about more than one thing at a time. All politics is local, they say. But the world is smaller than ever, and this is about more than politics. Or if it’s not, then politics isn’t just civil discourse and polite disagreements after all. Politics—if you want to call it that—has life and death consequences for humanity.

And above all, it is humanity that brings me here. I am here as a human being, and because these family separations are an unconscionable abuse of our most basic human rights. They are an abuse that must be acknowledged, denounced, and remedied like our lives depend on it, b
ecause they most certainly do.





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