Thursday, February 22, 2007

Building a Coalition of Humanity

The ongoing conversation that needs to be had...

When immigrants took to the streets last year to protest a punitive anti-immigrant bill in the House of Representatives and to seek a pathway to citizenship, the public conversation focused in part on the relationship between African Americans and immigrants. And much of that conversation was framed in terms of competition and conflict.


So what does it mean to turn the conversation toward positive solutions that reflect our shared values and interests? It means, for example, replacing the “nation of immigrants” slogan with the more nuanced language of community—that we are all in it together, interconnected in our hopes and dreams, as well as in our successes and setbacks. As part of this narrative, we can invoke the history of our country as a place where people of different races, religions and nationalities have always come together to pursue the common goal of opportunity. And we can emphasize that keeping opportunity alive takes work and investment in effective public structures, systems and programs.

It means advocating a pathway to citizenship for immigrants hand-in-hand with job training, childcare and other opportunity-expanded programs targeted towards African-American and other communities with the highest unemployment and poverty rates.

It means a shared call for investment in the public systems that are crucial to the mobility of African Americans and immigrants: well-financed public schools, college aid and access, guaranteed quality health care and economic incentives for the creation of affordable housing. And it means insisting on anti-discrimination and fair labor enforcement, as well as living wages for all workers.

Finally, this conversation is not only about African Americans and immigrants but, ultimately, about everyone in our country. Embracing our shared values and linked fate, promoting common solutions and investing in the stepping stones of opportunity are essential to our nation’s progress in a new century and a changing world.

Go read the whole thing. It's well worth it.

No comments: