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Black Lives Matter: Meeting The Moment And The Movement

Wed Jun 03 2020

The murder of George Floyd has sparked a national uprising unlike any we have seen in this country in many years. As an immigrant rights organization rooted in racial justice, ICIRR believes that Black lives matter. We stand in solidarity with those who are fighting against the systematic murder of Black people at the hands of police across the country.

Racial justice issues are intersectional and interwoven within this country’s history of white supremacy.  The racist system that continues to allow police to kill Black people with impunity, keeps Black community members incarcerated at rates five times higher than whites, deprives Black communities of adequate education, health resources, and economic opportunities--resulting in lower life expectancy rates than any other racial group in the U.S--and more, is the same system that keeps kids in cages at the border and in the shadows in our communities, rips families apart through the deportation pipeline, allows Illinois' sheriffs to turn our community members over to ICE, denies immigrant communities the right to basic health care, bans Muslim grandparents from holding their grandkids who live in the U.S. due to the Muslim ban, disqualifies immigrant families from basic COVID relief, and forces immigrant workers to labor under unsafe conditions, This system over-polices communities of color, starves them of other constructive public resources, and denies them paid sick leave, protections from wage theft, living wage jobs and more during a health and economic crisis that has disproportionately affected them--all to maintain the status quo.

When we demand Full Citizenship for All, we demand to live in a world where everyone’s humanity and personhood is recognized with the same dignity and respect regardless of one’s skin color or place of birth. Our demand for Full Citizenship for all is a demand for a world where all people live free from the systems rooted in white supremacy that must oppress communities of color to remain in power.  None of us can truly enjoy our full rights as “citizens'' unless and until we all can.

As the largest immigrant rights organization in Illinois, we have a responsibility that we take very seriously.  We must challenge ourselves, our membership, and the general public to think about the conditions that have resulted in the present moment. We must also demand changes to the current inequitable structures that have failed our communities time and again, as the COVID-19 pandemic and the deaths of George Floyd and so many others have laid bare. At minimum we must demand the following:

  • A caring economy that respects the full dignity of all workers, provides opportunities for sustainable and responsible economic development in all communities, and supports the vulnerable among us

  • Divestment from structures that harm our communities, including police, jails, and prisons, and invests instead in education, jobs that pay a living wage, health care, affordable housing, restorative justice, trauma supports and other measures that enable our communities to thrive

  • A new vision of public safety that rejects criminalization, militarization, and anti-Black and anti-Brown paradigms (which unfortunately have taken root within and have sewn divisions among communities of color) and instead ensures that everyone can live without fear of being killed or beaten

  • Fair and full opportunities for political participation, including the right to vote and fair representation, so that all communities of color have a full voice in the public policy decisions that directly affect their lives--and the means to hold public officials accountable.

ICIRR stands ready to work with Black communities and with other people of good faith to realize a shared vision of a just and inclusive society.  The continued tragedies of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many other Black men and women who have been killed, harassed, and assaulted by police only makes this work more urgent.  The fate of Black communities is inextricably intertwined with those of immigrants and all other communities--and nothing less than the fate of our entire nation is at stake.

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