Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Quick Thoughts on 'A Day Without Immigrants' / Dia Sin Inmigrantes

The May Day march heads down International Blvd. in Oakland.

So much has been burning and flashing through my brain the last few days, in preparation for, through participation in, and in reflection of the huge immigrant rights mobilizations that happened across the country yesterday, May 1st. May Day. International Workers' Day. A few of the burning flashes:

'Immigrant' communities (e.g. Asian-American/Pacific Islander, Latino/a, etc.) are deeply divided on the issues of immigration. Well, maybe APIs are more divided than Latinos. After all, I found a quite heated debate happening over at Sepia Mutiny, a South Asian blog I found while searching for API voices on the immigration reform debate. I posted a couple items there as 'RF' that seemed to draw both praise and heckles from the crowd.

I find it intriguing and outrageous that virtually none of the (progressive, I think) Pin@y bloggers in my immediate network wrote about the "Day Without an Immigrant" protests. What, did we Fil-Ams and recent transplants already forget that we are immigrants? Do we see this only as a Latino issue? Do we have no clue what's going on?

Tonight at Trader Joe's, many of the shelves were half-empty, not fully stocked. It was just a mild irritation, but a noticeable event. I overheard two other customers ask workers there why the shelves were so empty. "The strike yesterday," they both answered. "We get our inventory from a warehouse where most of the workers took the day off." Shit, really? In the US? A one-day strike that wasn't organized by any single union, that was a truly grassroots movement event, was actually felt by regular people at the grocery store? It made me smile.

The two bright spots of hope: an almost desperate plea for interracial solidarity from radical activists in Los Angeles; and the Filipinos for Affirmative Action 'Social Justice' conference this coming Saturday, which will feature some speakers and program content dealing with immigration issues. Should be an intersting dialogue.

Found this article about Irish 'illegal' immigrants, and huge protests that included white Eastern European immigrants in Chicago, as well as a human chain formed in New York City's Chinatown, showed the diverse faces of the immigrant sector of our society.

I was out in the streets in San Francisco and Oakand marching with thousands of (mostly Latino) protesters, and it was a great feeling. Great to be in the midst of so many brown folks, many of whom have probably been too frightened by the very real threat of deportation to speak up in the past. I was walking next to a Latino family with three kids, the smallest of whom, a boy who could be no more than five years old, was marching happily with a picket size that was nearly twice his size in his hands. I marched behind high school youth who had walked out of their classrooms (or just decided not to show up at school at all), mostly youth of color who are virtually given up on in their schools and communities.

I saw Jan Adams, veteran activist and one of the people responsible for recruting me into the movement. I saw a few face in the crowd that I recognized from my own activist work. But I saw many, many faces that I didn't know at all, and there were thousands of them. But, I also saw less than half a dozen API faces in the crowd. If even that many. I saw more Black folks at the protests than APIs, and supposedly immigration issues are a hot-button topic in the African-American community.

What the hell is going on? I know that the issue of 'border crossing' is not as deeply felt for APIs as Latinos (after all, the 'border' we have to cross to get here is a vast ocean), but I can't believe that at least progressive, American-born APIs are this apathetic and willing to be so invisible on this issue. Even the march yesterday from 98th Avenue and International Blvd to downtown Oakland was supposed to be met by a rally at the Federal Building organized by the East Bay Asian Consortium, a liberal/progressive API Coalition. But when I got to the Federal Building at almost 1pm, I was the only API face in sight. What happened?

Please, anyone, enlighten me with your thoughts.

Excited but still confused,
Rona

1 comment:

Efren said...

I posted something as did the husband, but no one seemed to notice. I'm scratching my head about it too but I think the way that the immigration debate has been framed in CA more than in other states has really made it a Latino issue more than an API issue, since it seemed that APIs figured more prominently in this outside of CA. Anyway, while I have issues about boycotts and question their efficacy, I think in this case it was necessary since there is really no other way for undocumented folk to make their voices heard without retribution.

Anyway, my post was more of a rant than anything but feel free to post your thoughts.