There are thousands of children currently in the custody of the U.S. Government, and their parents are locked up. Their crime? Being born at the wrong latitude in a place fraught with violence and poverty (in no small part) brought about by years of U.S. intervention in Central America — always on the side of the dictators, by the way. (But that is a very long other story.)
I marched in the streets yesterday to protest the separation and incarceration of the families from Central America who seek asylum and peace in “our” land. Today, I discovered there is a rapidly growing network of U.S. mothers who are working to reunite as many Central American moms and their children as they can. It is grassroots, and growing exponentially by the minute.
I was a child who read every book in the local library about The Underground Railroad, the abolitionists, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Kindertransport, and about gentiles that hid Jews. As an adult, I read all I could about the Civil Rights Movement, Freedom Summer, the Black Panther Party, the Black Liberation Army. I admired the freeing of Assata Shakur from prison. I sing the Bernice Johnson Reagon song in my head many days and weeks and years at a time: “We who believe in freedom shall not rest until it comes.” I played that song at my dissertation defense.
I had a teacher in high school in Kobe, Japan who taught us about the Japanese internment (concentration) camps the U.S. put Japanese and Japanese Americans into. I raged. I cried reading the stories of the hot desert. I read the No No Boys out loud to students.
I read about boarding schools for Native American children where they lost their languages and their families. I supported the American Indian Movement. I believe everyone’s freedom and rights are intricately tied to my own.
I always wondered what I would do if I had lived during the Nazi German holocaust. During John Brown’s time? Would I have had the courage to join him in fighting for the freedom of the enslaved? Would I stand up for people’s freedom when offered the chance?
Besides marching in the hot sun, we have a small way to step up now: We can grow a network of support for one mom and her kids. Are you able to make a network and free a woman and reunite her with her children? Are you able to contribute to the one I am making with people from Teachers College? Email me. Step up. Be part of the Righteous Among Nations. Tell your grandchildren: I spoke up, I did all I could. I did not stand by while this grave injustice was done. Not in my name! (If you want to donate money to the fund that is the blueprint for this work, click here.) When we get the Teachers College network up and running I will repost. Or email me at my work: oyler at tc dot edu