Connecting Dots with Ayanna Pressley

In a Democracy Now interview with Ayanna Pressley, she states,

“I would just again underscore that our destinies and our freedoms are tied. And what I want us to get to is — and you already do it, but we need more, more folk to be intentional and inclusive in our movement building and our coalition building and the breaking down of silos and of challenging folk to have equitable outrage.

So, I need people to understand the link between the humanitarian crisis at the border and babies being ripped from their mother’s arms and what happened in my household, in millions of American households, when my father was in and out of the criminal legal system for 14 years for being an addict. So, I’m for the preservation of family, from the border and, as I would say in my district, all the way to Blue Hill Avenue. So, it’s not a competition; there is no hierarchy of hurt. If you are aghast at the crisis of human trafficking globally, then don’t look at what’s happening in your own backyard and see that as blight and affecting your property values, and not understand the brokenness and not see those folks as your neighbors. If you are concerned about human rights violations and abuses and what is happening to women and rape being used as a tool of war and oppression, please pay attention to what is happening right here. If you are concerned about the violation, the undermining of women’s rights globally, then pay attention to what’s happening with Hyde and the gag rule and the ROE Act and in our courts and abortion.

And so, our freedoms and our destinies are tied. And what we need to get to is stop what Ilhan and I have often referred to as like the Oppression Olympics. You know, this is not a competition for who is sinking the fastest. There is no hierarchy of hurt. And so, what I’m looking for is equitable outrage, inclusive organizing and our collective upliftment.”

(https://www.democracynow.org/2020/2/10/democracy_now_the_squad_sotu)

Something I notice a lot as a millennial is that it’s common for elders who have their basic needs met, own property etc. those who had the opportunity to go to school, work and make a livable wage when the cost of living was low to misunderstand what’s happening to younger generations today. Often times they think the younger generations are out of line in our outrage and sense of urgency. “It must be the avocado toast that is making them poor or they are just lazy,” often people say.

This also happens with privileged people of any age too.

I have a friend who recently lost his job as a teacher for telling the truth, his truth. He said “Just because you work hard in this county does not automatically mean you are going to be successful,” because that is what he has experienced, with enormous credentials and barley able to survive on his dismal wages as a teacher. He was trying to warn the kids and encourage them to work harder and smarter. But some parents were horrified because it’s so far removed from their life experience and complained. He lost his job and now his statement is more true than ever.

If you do not know what it is like on the ground as a migrant or low wage worker or a single mother or poor, dont forget that you come at these issues from a privileged position. Your perspective on solutions may not be the same as someone who has experienced these issues.

If you do not understand the outrage, that’s absolutely understandable. All I ask is to not stifle those who do. Everyone’s perspective is based on their own unique life experience which people seem to forget a lot. Of course we all perceive reality differently. There is no one truth, just as there is not one perception of reality or life path.

Those most disenfranchised by this system throughout history have not had a voice so many do not know of the systematic and generational suffering that has been perpetrated against them. These people who are demanding change should not be fear mongered, but valued, especially in society that needs serious reorganization.

If you are privileged and grossed out by “blight” etc., don’t forget that every discomfort you feel is an opportunity for growth.

When you see an addict shooting up on the street, think about where our health “care” systems went so wrong, where is his support to help him recover from such deep wounds that lead him to such a blatant screaming-for-help scenario? What has our society done to this poor child, left to essentially kill himself in front of our very eyes?

When you see a houseless woman collecting recycling to wash her dirty clothes in a grocery cart, taking a moment to rest outside a store. Think about how challenging it must be for a woman to survive on the streets and ponder how we have we accepted this in the richest nation in the world. Think about how women are paid a fraction of what men make doing the same jobs, typically taking jobs that are paid less too (care work, teaching, service etc). Think about the immense violence in our society inflicted on women from rape to domestic abuse etc. Think about what it would take to genuinely help her without judgement of her trauma.

When you see a poor traveling family broken down on the side of the road think about the complete disenfranchisement of families in this capitalist system with virtually no safety nets, no paternity leave, no childcare, and no hope to survive on one income either. Think about what it would be like to be born into poverty in a country with one of the lowest social mobility rates in the world. Think about the cost of living today, student and medical debt, think about how you would survive on minimum wages that are lower than those required to rent a basic apartment anywhere in the county. Think about childcare costs and the enormous job of raising children. No wonder families are without homes and traveling on the road all over this county. Think about the 25% of American children who live in poverty because families are so disabled by this culture and construct. Think about whether that is fair to children and what is really to blame.

When you see a Latino in the community covered in dirt from manual labor, think about our impossible immigration system and the desperation migrant families feel when they are not allowed to legally work (even if they are married to a citizen). Think about the value they bring our society, all those jobs Americans don’t want to take and cant afford to take. Think about the corporations and policies that disabled the economy in Mexico causing the need to work in the states. Think about the life threatening situations people must face crossing the desert, think about the families who wash up on shores and riverbeds. Think about what you must be fleeing from to risk everything.

When you think of a prisoner, think about how much you have changed in your lifetime. Think about the many wrongly accused, the 75% non-violent drug offenders, think about the many disenfranchised by the color of their skin, racist laws, classicist laws, think about those who were addicted or just trying to feed their families.

Similarly when you see a local farmer out of work, think about the family they used to support from an honest days work cultivating medicine once upon a time. Think about the complete disenfranchisement hoisted onto them via Humbodlt County permit program. Think about all those workers they once paid livable wages to. Think about all that food they grew for their family. Think about the impact on the soul of this community when we have lost all our ma and pa gardens.

From my perspective it is easy to see that these systems are not serving us.

All of these issues are connected. Which if you ask me is really great news because that means they can all be overcome if we tackle them head on at the collective root . As Judy Berry once said, “Whats the highest common denominator?”

Just like Ayanna Presley I too encourage collective outrage and effectiveness in action. It’s really nice to protest trump and immigration centers far removed from trump and ICE in our little sanctuary county, but what has really changed when we do? It is really nice to see still, all I ask is “please pay attention to what is happening right here,” too because “our destinies and our freedoms are tied.” There are local people suffering from human rights abuses too who could really use your energy. Again from Ayanna,

I need people to understand the link between the humanitarian crisis at the border and babies being ripped from their mother’s arms and what happened in my household, in millions of American households, when my father was in and out of the criminal legal system for 14 years for being an addict…If you are aghast at the crisis of human trafficking globally, then don’t look at what’s happening in your own backyard and see that as blight and affecting your property values, and not understand the brokenness and not see those folks as your neighbors. If you are concerned about human rights violations and abuses and what is happening to women and rape being used as a tool of war and oppression, please pay attention to what is happening right here. What I’m looking for is equitable outrage, inclusive organizing and our collective upliftment.”

 

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