On June 30th, I was honored to represent AFSC at the Indianapolis Families Belong Here rally. I had misgivings from the start of participating in this rally, and will go into further details about that in my next blog post. What follows is what I said at the rally. Please note that the week of this rally, was a hard one for activists, organizers and people of color, as the SCOTUS lost their mind and reverted back to the 50s with their polices. With it being a rough week and I didn’t want to write out of anger, so I used my speech from the press conference earlier that week, as a base. Also know that after the national anthem was played to open the rally, I added and edit this piece to be more direct with the 95% white audience that only cares about POC (people of color) issues when it’s a trending topic. I have shown those edits to help with fully understanding where I was at. The red shows what was added and edited the day of the rally.
” Hello, my name is Tatjana Rebelle and speaking on behalf of American Friends Service Committee. I also stand before you today as a queer woman of color and a daughter of an immigrant. I am not unaware of the worry that comes with wondering if my mother will no longer be allowed to stay in the U.S. Knowing how one word and a comma in legislation can cause families to be ripped apart and people’s lives forever altered. I am not blind to the fact that her white privilege protects her from the harshness of state perpetuated violence as well. I live and breathe the reality of oppression and feel the stronghold of being marginalized every moment of the day. I am living proof of the intersectionality that I believe could make America great. But let us not be fooled by nationalism built on racism and colonialism. Let us not forget that Mexico is not the only country that borders the US. We do not see pictures of Canadian families being ripped apart. We do nor hear about Immigration and Custom Enforcement raids at hockey games or in Hollywood homes. We can not deny the reality of the racist practices our nation and history is steeped in.
Black and brown families have been ripped apart since the beginning of this nation. Whether it be the near genocide of indigenous families and sending first nation’s children to boarding schools to adapt into “american” society. Whether it be Africans kidnapped and forced into slavery based off of separation of families or tribes to make it easier to profit off of an individual’s labor. Japanese internment camps. The Prison Industrial Complex. The war on drugs. The school to prison pipeline. The police force getting away with murdering black and brown bodies without punishment. This is the reality of america.
Today, in particular, I am here with you to take a stand to keep families together, but that can not just mean keeping families together to be deported together. IF keeping families together is at . the core of what we are fighting for then we must also take a stand to actual immigration reform.
We You must use this moment, to begin fighting for a real pathway to citizenship. We You must use this moment to fight to maintain the Temporary Protective Services that has been stripped away from our Yemen and Somali refugees. We You must not only fight for children to not be detained on our own borders, but take a stand against groups that say it is their right to do the same in Palestine. We You must call for our own neighborhoods and churches to become sanctuary spaces so our immigrant, refugee and POC communities can know that are not alone and truly be safe. We You must call for our undocumented community to be able to pay in-state tuition and receive driver’s licenses. We You must fight for our Dreamers and those unable to come out of the shadows. We You must call for a end to militarization of our police force and ensure that ICE is abolished. We You must support groups like IUYA, Exodus, the Immigrant Welcome Center and ensure they have what they need to continue their work. We must put them at the forefront and follow their lead without questioning them or taking over.
We have made huge strides in the past towards equality and social justice for all, but we must do more then post memes on social media. We must do more then attend rallies. We must create sanctuary spaces. We must get activated and show our elected officials that we will not longer be pacifies with proclamations, but make them do real work to ensue our immigrant and POC communities have the same rights as those that benefit from whiteness. We must end systematic racism at it’s root and fight for equality for all people. We can not just fight for families to be jailed and deported together, but also fight for the black and brown families already here. We must make a stand for real immigration reform and do right by the indigenous populations, whose land we stand on. You must stand up for Black Lives, for trans lives, for the families that have grown up and now getting priced out of the neighborhoods, you are gentrifying. You must speak out against police murdering black and brown bodies. Stand up for those that can’t, not just at our borders but in our own communities and neighborhoods. Let us mean justice and liberty for all, no matter a person’s birthplace, skin color, gender presentation, religious beliefs, physical ability and wealth. Thank you.