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Neighborhood Emergency!

Neighborhood Emergency! Donate!

Introducing the fundraising campaign.

JHISN’s Neighborhood Emergency! fundraising campaign invites direct donations to the following six immigrant-led, community-based organizations in Queens that provide food, mutual aid, services, and solidarity to immigrant workers and families during the COVID-19 crisis.

The pandemic disproportionately affects immigrant and undocumented communities. Emergency relief from the federal government has excluded immigrants, especially undocumented households and workers. Local immigrant justice organizations have stepped up to protect people from multiple crises of health, employment, food, and housing. They need your support!

Find the quick links to fundraising pages for all six groups at: jhimmigrantsolidarity.org/emergency

Click on the group’s name to connect directly to their fundraising webpage and please donate what you can afford.

Adhikaar

Adhikaar is a Jackson Heights-based immigrant justice group serving the Nepali-speaking community since 2005. Focused on immigration rights and legal issues, labor struggles (including for domestic workers), and health and social justice issues, Adhikaar played a key role in the groundbreaking New York State Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.

Your donation will support Adhikaar’s mutual aid relief efforts during the crisis including the supply of direct relief, community education and the ongoing struggle for systemic change and community empowerment.

Damayan

Damayan Migrant Workers Association organizes low-wage Filipino workers–including undocumented workers–to fight for their gender, labor, health, and immigrant rights. Established in 2002, Damayan’s immigrant-led organization builds leadership at the grassroots level to eliminate labor trafficking, fight labor fraud and wage theft, and demand fair labor standards to achieve economic and social justice.

Damayan’s Emergency Fund provides direct material support during the pandemic to community members, prioritizing those who are unemployed, sick, elderly, or families with small children.

Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM)

DRUM is a multigenerational, membership-led organization of South Asian and Indo-Caribbean working-class immigrants, women, youth, and undocumented families. Founded in 2000, DRUM has built a unique model of community-based organizing where members lead social and policy changes that impact their own lives–from immigrant rights to education reform, civil rights, and worker’s justice. 

DRUM’s emergency fund, “Building Power and Safety Through Solidarity,” provides direct aid to community members via food, healthcare, housing, and participatory programs to strengthen community power during the Covid-19 crisis.

Make the Road New York

Make the Road carries out extensive organizing to empower immigrant Latinx communities. As a locally-based and statewide organization, Make the Road New York builds the power of immigrant and working-class communities to achieve dignity and justice through community organizing, transformative education, policy innovation, and survival services.

Donate to MTRNY’s Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund to support vulnerable workers, undocumented households, and low-income families.

New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE)

NICE is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of vulnerable and precarious immigrant workers and their families in New York, with a focus on day laborers, domestic workers, and newly arrived immigrants. For over 20 years, NICE has offered an extensive set of services, community organizing, and leadership development programs.

Your donation will support NICE’s front-line impacts in our community. NICE has launched and continued vital food access, cash assistance, and overall case management programs during the pandemic.

Queens Neighborhoods United (QNU)

QNU is a community-based organization made up of members from Jackson Heights, Corona, and Elmhurst. QNU believes in establishing democratic control over land-use, policing, and immigration policies that directly impact us, our families, homes, businesses, places of work, and neighborhoods. Through grassroots organizing, leadership development, advocacy, and community education, QNU builds power to fight criminalization and displacement in our communities.

Donating to QNU will provide mutual aid to neighbors in need during the pandemic.

Denise Romero versus Chuck Schumer

At JHISN’s Community Gathering on October 17, activist Denise (Lupita) Romero spoke about her recent confrontation with US Senator and Democratic Party Leader Chuck Schumer on the streets of Woodside, Queens. Some video of the encounter can be seen online:

During the street confrontation, Romero told Schumer that he wasn’t welcome in Queens. She said that, in spite of Schumer’s claims about supporting immigrant rights, he and his fellow Democrats were actually dividing immigrants: offering to help some, while putting a deportation target on the backs of many others. Speaking over Schumer as he wagged a finger in her face, Romero insisted that dividing immigrants this way undermines the struggle for rights and justice for all immigrants.

Romero, a “Dreamer” brought to the US as a small child, would possibly be eligible for permanent legal status if the “comprehensive immigration reform” legislation proposed by Schumer and Nancy Pelosi ever passed in Congress. (At least if she met a set of strict eligibility guidelines and conditions.) But, as Romero pointed out to Schumer, her own parents would be still be subject to deportation, along with millions of other immigrants. In addition, the Democrats’ “comprehensive immigration reform” bills include billions of dollars for tougher enforcement—more ICE and Border Patrol agents, more courts and more equipment, including drones and other advanced technology.

At the JHISN community gathering, Romero said that she understands why lots of US citizens are caught up in supporting the Democratic Party as a way of defeating Trump. But she argued passionately that, with the rights of millions of immigrants on the line, people should be demanding much more from their leaders than what Schumer, Pelosi, and other mainstream Democrats are offering.

JHISN received a range of feedback about Romero’s talk. Some attendees expressed discomfort with her anger, and felt defensive. Others worried that attacks on Democrats could help Trump get reelected. And still others were enthusiastic about the talk, which they found inspiring, challenging or energizing. If you weren’t there, check out the video of Denise Romero, and see for yourself.

For a recap of our community gathering, including photos and videos of the speakers’ presentations and musical performances, see our News story.

“American”

This happened a long time ago, but it made a big impression on me:

I was a young white activist, recently moved to the US Southwest. An older Mexican guy named Oscar had taken me under his wing, helping me survive in a factory job that I had more or less faked my way into. Oscar knew a lot about the world, and we talked about politics all the time.

One day, I was yakking away about American foreign policy, and the relationship between America and Mexico, and he held up a finger. “You know, Mexicans are Americans too,” he said.

It was so obvious, but it stopped me cold. How could I have been so blind? What kind of arrogance does it take for a country to assign itself the name of a whole continent, as if all the other inhabitants of that continent didn’t matter?

Soon afterwards, I started getting involved in Latin America solidarity organizing, and I began to travel in Mexico. I studied Spanish, and got to know lots of Mexican and Central American activists. I noticed that none of them referred to US residents as “Americans.” Apart from slang words, they used two terms: “norteamericanos” (North Americans) or “estadounidenses” (United Statesians). The same terms were used in Latin American books, newspapers and magazines. They still are.

My Mexican and Central American friends didn’t make a big deal out of it when people from the US called themselves Americans. But they noticed who did, and who didn’t.

I try not to refer to this country as “America,” or talk about US residents as “Americans.” But it’s easy to fall back into that usage. I understand why most people in the US, like my younger self, don’t even consider it an issue. Because every aspect of our society is infused with “Americanism,” from our everyday speech, to the media, to patriotic songs. This is part of the imperial politics of language, which ultimately grows out of economic and military power.

In the Americas, far too often, might makes right. Habits of cultural arrogance and political domination have become entrenched over time. Normalized. In fact, these days I sometimes hear Spanish-speaking people refer to North Americans as “Americanos.” I’ve been told that in some parts of Latin America, this is normal usage; in other parts it’s considered insulting. (Few people in Latin America refer to this country as “America,” since that’s just confusing.)

Meanwhile, there have always been people inside the US who reject the label of “American.” For instance, some Indigenous people dislike the term “Native American,” which was first promoted by the US government. They have their own names for themselves and for the land. Why should they accept the name “America,” derived from Amerigo Vespucci, one of the European invaders? Some radicals of African descent refuse to call themselves “Americans.” They don’t wish to adopt the term that the slave owners and overseers used to describe themselves. Many people of Mexican heritage prefer not to be called “Mexican-Americans.” It seems redundant, and a denial that Mexicans were already Americans before the US seized half of their territory. For instance, my friend Oscar, a US citizen, insisted he was “Mexican,” period.

Everybody has to decide for themselves whether or not to use “America” to refer to the US, and “American” to refer to US residents. But I would argue that it’s something that deserves reflection, especially for those of us who support human rights for migrants.

We should at least pay attention to how those words sound in the mouths of our opponents. Anti-immigrant forces in this country talk about “defending America’s borders.” In August, Tucker Carlson of Fox News, speaking about the Central American caravans, asked his viewers, “Will anyone in power do anything to protect America this time, or will leaders sit passively back as the invasion continues?” Rush Limbaugh says that if the migrant “invasion” isn’t stopped, this country will lose its identity. “The objective is to dilute and eventually eliminate or erase what is known as the distinct or unique American culture.”

In these disgraceful passages, we witness Euro-Americans, descendants of settlers, describing other Americans, many of them indigenous to the continent, as outsiders to America, invaders of America and destroyers of American culture. This is a prime example of what psychologists call “neurotic projection”: Falsely accusing others of doing exactly what you did to them.

Anti-immigrant sentiment can be expressed in many ways, using different language. Plug “the US” into those sentences, and they are still reactionary. But it seems to me that Carlson and Limbaugh’s arrogant use of the term “American” is part of, and helps amplify, their racist message.

What do you think?

DS, 9/19