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Aug 5, 2011
This is my contribution to the Latina Week of Action for Reproductive Justice Blog Carnival! We were asked to respond to the question below:
"What’s the real problem?" when it comes to how immigrant women are treated.
The real problem is silence.
In most major cities and in some rural communities, it is impossible to go through a week without having an interaction with immigrant women. My entire world has been shaped and molded by immigrant women including the janitors in the many buildings I have worked in, local cooks at some of my favorite restaurants, the professor I did research with at Cal State Los Angeles, the women at St. Peter and St. Paul Church in Wilmington, my aunts, my grandmother and most importantly my mother. These women have had to overcome insurmountable obstacles on a continuous basis and we fail to recount their triumphs and tragedies. Our insistence as a community to turn a blind eye, allows these experiences of injustice to fall on deaf ears, and our continuous silence on the way immigrant women are being systematically discriminated against is the problem.
Whether it is the increase in deportations due to raids by ICE or the high incidence of domestic violence experienced by immigrant women we are not allowing these experiences to have a privileged platform. Immigrant women have become trapped by institutions that expect them to only be seen and not heard. Where is the outrage on behalf of all the communities they positively impact? Why aren’t their co-workers, patrons, students, fellow parishioners, and children changing the narrative and speaking out against their discrimination with them.
There are pockets of community that have taken up aspects of the problems that most affect immigrant women. Their tireless efforts as activists, services providers, and advocates I both respect and admire. However, there is a much greater community in America that must ally themselves with these women and these communities to change conditions on the ground. As of late, I have been following the important work of Jose Antonio Vargas and his courage in coming out as an undocumented immigrant. However, I am ready for the next phase of his initiative Defining America to include stories of immigrant women. My challenge to all Americans: count the number of immigrant women that have positively impacted your life. This is my daily exercise and it makes me realize that silence is no longer an option.
To learn more about Defining America: