Things That Matter

A New Documentary Shows How an Undocumented Immigrant from Colombia Found Her Voice

CREDIT: POV Interactive/YouTube

“My mom raised me in an environment where speaking out about your status is wrong.”

Contrary to popular Donald Trump’s belief, not all undocumented immigrants come from Mexico. PBS’s new documentary, Don’t Tell Anyone (No Le Digas a Nadie) tells the heartbreaking story and eventual triumph of Colombian immigrant Angy Rivera. Rivera held two secrets throughout her young life: she was an undocumented child living in the US and she was abused by her step-father.

However, Rivera didn’t remain silent. She started writing a column on the New York State Youth Leadership Council website called “Ask Angy,” which became the first undocumented-youth advice column in the country.

“Being undocumented isn’t something we can put in the back of our heads,”Rivera says in the film. “When I wake up, it’s the first thing I think about.”

The film chronicles her story as a young undocumented girl to a woman who spoke up about her past through writing and social media, supporting thousands of undocumented immigrants in the process.

The film premieres September 21 on PBS. Find out more about Rivera’s story and the film on PBS’ page.

READ: Letters of Detained Immigrants are Getting Mass Exposure by Becoming Works of Art

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This Video Of Children Reading The Testimonies Of Migrant Children Detained By The U.S. Government Will Break Your Heart

Things That Matter

This Video Of Children Reading The Testimonies Of Migrant Children Detained By The U.S. Government Will Break Your Heart

It’s been a little over a year since news broke of the Trump administration ordering prosecutors along the border to immediately adopt a “zero-tolerance policy” for crossings across the U.S.-Mexico border. Under this policy, families were separated along the border, leaving migrant children alone in other Customers and Border Protection facilities. And leaving them alone with inhumane border patrol agents who have mistreated and had no empathy for these children. Since then, we’ve also witnessed just how little the Trump administration cares to reunite these children with their families after ripping them away. 

The New York Times published a video Op-Ed featuring children reading testimonies given by young migrants detained in detention facilities along the U.S.-Mexico border – and it’s harrowing. 

Although the video reveals what we already know and what we’ve already seen day after day on the news, it’s still painful to watch other young children – who could easily be in a similar situation – read the details of children living in cages and going hungry. 

“Border Patrol has been detaining thousands of children, sometimes for weeks, in conditions no child anywhere should suffer. At a June hearing before a federal appeals court, judges were stunned by the administration’s arguments that these children were kept in ‘safe and sanitary’ facilities, as required by the Flores Settlement,” reads the New York Times Op-Ed

“My skin is itchy and red and my nose is stuffed up,” one child reads. “It’s so ugly to be locked up all the time.”

According to reports released in April, it could take up to two years to identify thousands of separated immigrant families. Many immigration rights organizations and advocates have taken to social media and to the streets to fight for the reunification of migrant children with their families and there’s no sign of stopping. Especially after the continuous reports of migrant children dying at the hands of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Border Patrol agents. 

The New York Times’ latest video also isn’t the first time we hear firsthand accounts from migrant children detained in these inhumane facilities and cages. 

In a report released by BuzzFeed News in late June, more kids described in their own words the atrocious conditions inside a border detention center. “We are in a metal cage with 20 other teenagers with babies and young children. We have one mat we need to share with each other. It is very cold. We each got a mylar blanket, but it is not enough to warm up,” one 16-year-old said. 

You can watch the full video here: 

Here are more quotes of migrant children detained by the U.S. government:

“There isn’t water or soap to wash our hands after we use the bathroom. We have to ask for toilet paper if we want any. My sister and I hold a blanket up so no one can see us when we go to the bathroom.”

“I’m hungry here all the time. I’m so hungry I wake up in the middle of the night with hunger. I’m too scared to ask the officials for any more food.”

“We spend all day every day inside of that room. There are no activities. Only crying. During the two weeks we have been here they have let us outside 5 times. For twenty minutes. I would like to get some fresh air.”

The New York Times video quickly went viral on social media and many celebrities, public figures, and immigration rights organizations spoke up about the video.      

Canadian singer and songwriter Shawn Mendes tweeted, “Keep families together… Please support organizations like @supportKIND, that are working to #protectfamilies imprisoned at the border.” 

The largest immigration legal services non-profit in Texas, RAICES, also tweeted, “We demand #JusticeForOurChildren.”

RAICES works with under-served immigrant children, families, and refugees.   

The Children’s Defense Fund urged its followers to “listen to heartbreaking testimonies from children detained at the border.”  

They went on to describe the inhumane living conditions of these migrant children –– “living in cages, going hungry and tending to infants without their parents. #CloseTheCamps #KeepFamiliesTogether”       

National Board Member of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF Tea Leoni tweeted that this video isn’t just a response to a #BorderCrisis – this is a humanitarian crisis.       

Leoni goes on to thank the New York Times for “shining a light on the horrible conditions that children are facing at the border.” 

If you want to help migrant children at the border imprisoned in detention centers, you can buy your #CloseTheCamps tee from Mitú here.  

Mitú is partnering with immigration rights organization RAICES and donating 100% of the proceeds to help the nonprofit continue their fight to free these children from detention centers. 

Aside from supporting and donating to your local or national advocacy organizations, you can also contact your elected officials, educate yourself with accurate information and share that information with family, friends, and followers. Remember, you can make a small impact by simply educating yourself and others. 

No one belongs in a cage. 

This Twitter User Pointed Out That the X-Men Is An Allegory For the Hate and Violence Minorities Experience In Our Society

Things That Matter

This Twitter User Pointed Out That the X-Men Is An Allegory For the Hate and Violence Minorities Experience In Our Society

With the wrap-up of Comic-Con 2019, we’ve still got comics and all things fandom on our minds. We’re, of course, big fans of comic giant Marvel. The company has long been the innovator in its industry and artists like Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Sana Amanat, and Scott Lobdell have created art and stories that push their narratives towards real-life issues. Racism, sexism, ableism and general bigotry have been addressed in the pages of their comics. They’ve made readers stop and look at the similarities between these fictional worlds and our real one.

“The X-Men,” especially, is one title that explores these concepts. At its core, “X-Men” is about taking the outcasts of society and making them superheroes via what makes them different. Still, despite their roles as heroes, the mutants of X-Men are seen as dangerous outsiders who need to hide who they are or risk being targeted by radicalized and violent bigots. Sound familiar?

This Twitter user noticed the similarities in themes between old “X-Men” cartoons from 25 years ago and our current society.

Twitter / @tyewang

Twitter user Tye Wang noticed these signs while watching “X-men: The Animated Series.” They read “Go Home!” and “Mutant Go Back To Where You Came From.” He pointed out that the observations from the cartoon — especially concerning race relations — reflect our current world.

Wang shared the dialogue that went along with the images:

“The assassin was Gambit, but ALL mutants get blamed. People are afraid, they want action, they want to protect, they want revenge.”

The scene goes on to discuss mutant laws being passed to “protect” non-mutants from “dangerous and criminal mutants.” It’s clearly an allegory for how society reacts to both migrants looking for sanctuary in our country and those who have immigrated here legally and have become citizens.

We’ve recently seen this racist trope used by the American president.

Twitter / @nowthisnews

On July 14, 2019, Donald Trump went on a racially charged Twitter rant aimed at Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her fellow congresswomen. In the rant, the president asked of the women, “Why don’t they go back.” Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Tlaib, Rep. Pressley and Rep. Omar are all women of color and are American citizens. However, since they have been vocal on many social issues that they hope to see changed, the president attacked the group — quickly latching on to a phrase that racists have long used against Black and Brown people.

During the major immigration period of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, America had open borders.

In this time, migrants came from Europe in mass quantities. The president’s own mother and father are members of this major immigration. Some of these migrants were persecuted for their mother country. Some received the same threats that today’s migrants face.

However, the focus for racist hate soon turned towards Latinx people, Black people and other brown members of society. Despite their own exodus, white Americans told Black and brown folks to go back home. Never mind that the border crossed over into native land. Never mind that Black people were brought over in chains. It was just another excuse to accuse “outsiders” for the world’s problems.

These issues are the same ones that members of the X-Men faced in their adventures.

Twitter / @SlimJim2123

It wasn’t just fighting Magneto and the Evil Brotherhood of Mutants. The X-Men also took on societal issues. Creator Stan Lee imagined the mutants to be a stand-in for minorities so it was natural that the heroes faced issues that marginalized groups experience.

Raised in Harlem and Cairo, weather-themed superhero, Storm, experienced the intersections of social injustice as a Black mutant woman. She faced prejudice from those who saw her as a dangerous mutant as well as those who saw her as someone who didn’t belong in America.

She also faced discrimination as a woman. The topic of wage equality came into the original ’70s and ’80s run of “The X-Men.” Forty or so years later and wage equality between the sexes and the races continues to be an issue; proving that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

The hate that we see in today’s anti-immigrant mentality is the same that the X-men experienced back in their origins.

Twitter / @tertiarymap

During the original run of “X-Men: The Animated Series,” the mutant Jubilee faced an unfortunately familiar sentiment. While trapped by anti-mutant extremists, the hero asked, “Why do you hate us? What did we ever do to you?” The response she got was that she was hated for being born a mutant, something she has no control over.

This is the same hate that racists aim at Black and brown people. They are not judged by their character or their actions, but on the fact that they were born different. Whether born in a different place or born a different race, just like the bigots in “X-Men,” racists only care about what makes us different. Some things never change.

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