[Written for a May Day rally]
We are gathered here on this May Day for many reasons.
We are gathered to celebrate community, community that has been built by the hands and on the backs of working class people.
We are gathered to remember those who have labored in the past to ensure that we can make a living in the present and save for the future.
Most importantly, we are gathered here because we are all under attack.
In the past 3 years, we have seen over a million people – hundreds of thousands of fathers, grandmothers, sisters and classmates – be deported under a president that promised us hope and change.
We often hear of no child left behind, yet every day immigrant children are left behind in our city as their parents are deported.
We have had our access to healthcare severed and our reproductive rights limited.
We have seen our wages fall and tuition rise, yet we are made out to be the scapegoats in an economic recession.
But although we are under attack, we must always remember that our liberation is bound together, that we must intersect our struggles to achieve a common victory.
A common victory where black and brown and all colors stand united;
Where allies support the work of those directly affected and do not stand in the way of their freedom;
Where we each check our respective privilege in our quest for justice;
Where we the oppressed do not turn on each other in desperation, but instead focus our energy on those who oppress us;
Where I will never be free as long as you remain in chains;
Where indigenous rights, immigrant rights, women’s rights, workers rights, civil rights and educational and economic access are all respected as human rights.
This common victory is why we fight and there are still many battles to be won.
We must also fight for all undocumented youth – from the valedictorian who has triumphed despite the odds to the high school dropout swallowed by the school-to-prison pipeline.
We must send a united message that all undocumented youth are worthy – of a chance, of an opportunity, of an education, and of avoiding deportation.
We must never be made to point fingers at our parents, whose strength and courage brought us here in search of a better life.
We must fight for the passage of the DREAM Act while recognizing that it is the first step of a much larger battle.
But, in the words of Harvey Milk, we cannot live on hope alone, so we must defend what those who have come before us worked so hard to achieve.
We must fight against programs like Secure Communities and 287g that result in record-breaking deportations of youth who have deemed low priority, but have yet to be saved by prosecutorial discretion or this administration.
We must fight against detention centers that profit from the imprisonment of our family and community members, that label mothers and fathers as criminals for working to feed their children.
We must fight against electing politicians who continually refuse to be accountable to the communities they serve, who only kiss babies in election season when they need your vote.
Though we must face our fears and acknowledge the pain they inflict upon our families – fear of poverty, of family separation, of detention and deportation – we must not let these fears cripple us into acceptance of injustice.
Though we must confront our anger and harness its power by organizing – the anger felt by undocumented youth at the lack of opportunity as they leave high school, often times without a diploma in hand – we must not let our anger blind us into complacency or submission.
We must link arms as we come out of the shadows, as we drop the shame and stigma that surrounds our every day existence.
We must refuse to be silent, refuse to turn a blind eye to the criminalization of our communities.
We must speak ourselves back into existence – speak our stories and our struggles – for we are being erased from the history books in our state legislature.
We must not wait for someone to lead us – for we should be at the forefront of our own struggle.
We must organize. We must mobilize. We must share our stories and make our voices heard.
We must not wait for our freedom to be handed to us – it is up to us to free ourselves.
Most importantly, we must not bear these burdens alone – we should rely on each other for support.
Lastly, we must fight for each other, not in spite of our differences, but because of our differences, differences that are nonetheless bound by shared values of our dignity, our humanity, and our community.
As an undocumented youth, an immigrant, a daughter, and an ally, I look forward to fighting alongside every one of you in solidarity. Thank you.