In the past weeks I have read of people’s experience with the occupation movement in terms of gender, class or race. Many felt that the 99% did not represent them because it replicated the same structures of privilege that the movement is questioning. I stumbled upon beautiful pieces such as “SO REAL IT HURTS: Notes on Occupy Wall Street” that speak about opening up the dialog on issues of inequality.
The thing is, I am not a citizen. I want to participate. I have been participating. And I have listened to countless people telling me to stay out of it, because as a non US citizen I have very little legal protection. Other people I know that are non-citizens do not want to be involved with the occupation movement because the consequences are too high.
The DC Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild in their Guide to Political Protest states:
“The Supreme Court has recently held that the government may target non-citizens because of their lawful First Amendment activities. A conviction in the United States for protest activities can have serious consequences for non-citizens, including deportation or exclusion the next time the person wants to enter the United States. It can also harm your chances of obtaining Lawful Permanent Resident status or citizenship. In short, we believe that all activists need to recognize that the US government is very hostile to non-citizens, who are particularly vulnerable and should be extremely cautious.”
But, we are part of the 99%. We live in the United States legally, we work, we pay taxes, and we feel the widening social inequality deeply. I am a single parent, and I left my country of origin because of violence in my family. I left because the prospects for my life, or my daughters’ lives were bleak. By participating in the occupation I could be sent back to a place where I have little left, and where I still do not feel safe. I could lose what I have been building here in the US for the past decade for wanting to make things better. I am part of the United States. I recognize that my trajectory could have not happened anywhere else, but that my ability to make a better life for me and my children is extremely fragile and eroding everyday as social inequality deepens.
It is time to speak about this. If the occupation is to include the voices of the 99%, it has to include immigrant voices. However at the moment I do not feel safe. I do not feel safe when people speak to me about being arrested as a badge of honor. I do not feel safe when the deep vulnerability that I experience as an immigrant is not recognized, and no contingency plans are in place.
How can I participate when what I am risking is so disproportional in comparison to my fellow protesters that are citizens? How can we build a movement that has space for all of us?
Let’s open this conversation up.
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- Joined: Sat Oct 29, 2011 2:30 am
You can post vids on youtube.
You can speak up online on forums and share your ideas online to create more visibility for the issues. Not everyone has to be at Grant Park getting arrested at midnight: that is only one front.
You can encourage people to close their Chase or BofA accounts and open one with a non-profit credit union and explain the many reasons why, like I did.
You can join alternative currency networks. The more people do this and the more goods and services are available through them, the easier it will be progressively to be weened off the wage slavery system imposed by our central bank and our currency. Argentinians have been very good about developing barter and trade networks that only use tax- and interest- free social currency. It's a very efficient model that works especially well for economically marginalized populations.
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- Location: Chicago
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