Things That Matter

For This Year’s July 4th Consider Volunteering Your Time With Organizations Meant To Help Migrants And Dreamers

Every 4th of July millions of Americans celebrate Independence Day. But besides enjoying a family meal and the night sky sprinkled with fireworks, and having a chela while brushing up on your US history, this holiday is also a good opportunity to remember and live by the American values of community, solidarity, and hospitality.

In these politically turbulent years there have been many recent attacks on people of color and refugees, brutal limitations to female reproductive rights, attacks against ethnic and religious minorities, and abusive treatment at detention centers that verge on the illegal, that perhaps the only way to celebrate to volunteer and help one of the many organizations that are fighting against injustice and for a fairer United States. As Barack Obama once said about community organizing and volunteerism: “The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something.” ¡Así que manos a la obra!

ProLiteracy (nationwide)

Credit: Instagram. @proliteracy

This is a pretty awesome organization that has a very clear and important goal: to increase literacy levels in the adult population, with the belief that every adult has the right to learn how to read and write. You can volunteer by teaching others to increase not only basic literacy but also maths and computer literacy, which can help others increase their employment prospects and play a larger role in their family and social lives. This organization has a volunteer workforce of 85%. This seems like an awesome and frankly very relevant place to start making a difference.

Learn more here.

Latinas Contra Cancer (California)

image. Latinas contra cancer

This organization provides counseling and help to Latinas who are undergoing the hard road of facing cancer. It was founded to “address the void in culturally and linguistically sensitive programs that meet the health care needs of Latinos around issues of cancer.” If you are bilingual and willing to help, and live in the Silicon Valley area, this might be the place for you. They are involved in detection and screening, patient support, research and many other activities.

Learn more here.

The Trevor Project

Credit: Instagram. @trevorproject

This organization offers help to LGBTQ youth that are in dire need of help. They rely on volunteer work, in a program that aims to “provide life-saving support to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) youth, The Trevor Project recruits passionate volunteers to staff our crisis intervention services”. The organization was founded in 1998 by the directors of the short film “Trevor,” which won an Oscar (you can watch the movie here ).

Learn more here.

Angry Tias & Abuelas

Credit: Facebook. @AngryTiasAndAbuelas

This recently formed group’s mission is to “advocate for dignity and justice for individuals and families seeking asylum at our borders. As they embark on their journeys to destinations across the U.S., our aim is to assure their basic health and safety needs are met”. They provide basic needs such as water, food, toiletries and other items to those who are released by ICE in their centers near Brownsville, Texas. The best way to contact them and offer help is through Facebook.

Learn more here.

Border Angels (California)

Credit: Instagram. @borderangelsofficial

This organization operates at the epicenter of the migratory flow from Mexico into the United States. Border Angels “is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that advocates for human rights, humane immigration reform, and social justice with a special focus on issues related to issues related to the US-Mexican border.” They organize events such as tours of the border that seek to raise awareness of the perilous journey taken by those who seek to call America home. Programs like Water Drops, for example, involve leaving water in the desert for migrants taking the journey.

Learn more here.

Raices (Texas)

Credit: Instagram. @raicestexas

This Texan organization is at the frontline of the many tribulations that migrants are facing at the Southern border. It is ” a frontline organization in the roiling debate about immigration and immigrants in the world.” They provide legal advocacy and representation to migrants and deal with as many as 50,000 cases a year. They certainly can always do with a little help, and they have Youth Volunteer, General Volunteer and a Pro Bono Program where you can offer your time and expertise.

Learn more here.

Casa Latina (Seattle)

Digital image. El Camino

This organization based in Seattle is an answer to the increasing influx of migrants into the city. Casa Latinas looks to be the following: “As a vibrant, immigrant worker rights organization, Casa Latina empowers low-wage Latino immigrants to move from economic insecurity to economic prosperity and to lift their voices to take action around public policy issues that affect them”. They have over 75 volunteers, and they are constantly opening new positions.

Learn more here.

Latin Women in Action

@latinwomeninact / Twitter

If you live in the Big Apple this might be the organization for you. The group seeks to be “a comprehensive community based social service agency. Its mission and goals are to provide essential services to not only Latinas but any family or individual seeking our help in New York City.” You can volunteer to offer legal, immigration or family services. After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, for example, they offered help to Boricuas arriving in the city feeling the devastation.

Learn more here.

Acción Latina

Credit: Instagram. @accionlatinasf

Your abuela would say that la ropa sucia se lava en casaand that you should never be farol de la calle, oscuridad de la casa. In short: offer your help to those closest to you. This organization’s mission is to “promote cultural arts, community media, and civic engagement as a way of building healthy and empowered Latino communities.” There is an open call for volunteers, which is of particular interest to those who wish to gain experience in media.

Learn more here.

Brown Girls Do Ballet

Credit: Instagram. @browngirlsdoballet

What an amazing initiative. One of the spaces where young girls of color feel most excluded is in the arts, particularly the ones that tend to be costly. Ballet is one of these, and this organization’s mission is to “help increase participation of underrepresented minority populations in ballet programs through organizing and arranging ballet performances, photo exhibitions, and providing resources and scholarships to assist young girls in their ballet development and training.” You can help out with community outreach or, if you are a ballet dancer yourself, by mentoring young students. This organization can really help the self-confidence of young Brown girls and make society at large a more equal field for nuestras muchachas.

Learn more here.

 

RAICES

raicestexas / Instagram

Raices is a community of allies working to fight today’s broken immigration system that tears families apart and left millions without pathways to legal status.

Learn more here.

It Turns Out The Great Woman Behind Julian Castro Is His Mother, A Woman Who Has Long Carried The Fight For Latinos

Things That Matter

It Turns Out The Great Woman Behind Julian Castro Is His Mother, A Woman Who Has Long Carried The Fight For Latinos

When discussing today’s volatile state of our country, the racism, the violence, the injustice, people often say “it’s never been this bad.”

How do we truly know for sure that something we are experiencing today, as a minority, as Latinos, is something, unlike anything previous generations have experienced before. We certainly cannot tell from history books mainly because history books often omit the Latino experience altogether. We sometimes only have oral histories to rely on. The stories elder Latinos share with us about what life was like in the past, before social media, before cell phones, and before the media ever reported about injustices against our community. 

Those special individuals are typically our grandparents, tias, la vecina, and more importantly activists that continue to fight for the cause today. Recently presidential candidate, Julian Castro said that he stands on his important platforms today primarily because of his mother Rosie. 

As a lifelong Texan, Rosie said the racism in 2019 is more evil than anything she has ever seen.

Credit: Instagram/@TexasMonthly

In an interview with NBC News, Rosie who’s not only grown up in Texas but has also worked her adult life as an activist for Latinos said that she knows racism well because she has lived through it her entire life but what is happening today is extremely different from the past. 

“When I was in the movement, I knew the racism was out there and it was institutional. This kind of racism is different,” she said to the network. “That rhetoric has gone on for three years now, and I think we’ve all seen the rise of the hate groups and then even the rise of just ordinary people in a store that feel empowered to say something to a person who is speaking Spanish or is dark-skinned.”

Rosie said the racist words from President Donald Trump has single-handly inspired white supremacists to target Latinos. 

Credit: Twitter/@thehill

She said he is the catalyst to our current crisis.

Rosie said that when Trump first got elected she immediately felt like she was back in time, as if it were the ’60s all over again, but adds that this time it feels much worse. She said back then, President Nixon and California Governor Ronald Reagan had a campaign against Latinos too. However, it does not compare to the injustices against Latinos today. She points out that Trump claims to be a Christian yet can spew such vile words. “He’s just allowed that to become a blatant racist part of our reality,” Rosie said. 

As a former community organizer in the ’60s and ’70s, Rosie said Latinos had a mission to work at making the country a better place.

Credit: Instagram/@TexasMonthly

Now, Rosie said that Latinos are fighting for their lives. She also attributes a huge difference between then now on gun violence. Children today are afraid to go to school because mass shootings happen so frequently. 

Her son has always had a strong position against guns. He has spoken about it extensively during his presidential campaigning. Julian has said he will push for renewing the assault weapons ban, as well as limiting high-capacity magazines and, naturally, requiring background checks.

One thing that is inspiring Rosie — aside from her son running for president — is that so many organizations today are rising up to fight for equality and against racism.

Credit: Instagram/@denisemhdz

Rosie said the organizations she sees today does remind her of her time as an activist back in the day. While the injustices and crimes against Latinos is a stark difference, one thing that feels familiar is the energy from young Latinos rising together. 

Rosie has long been credited for influencing her sons’ work as public servants, to fight for Latinos and all people in the U.S. 

Credit: Instagram/@truth_purpose

Both Julian and Joaquin had attributed their rise in politics to their mother. It was her work as an activist and in education that made them both want to strive to make the United States a better place to live. 

In 2012, Julian gave his now-famous keynote address at the Democratic National Convention where he introduced then-President Barack Obama. In a few words, Julian not only paid tribute to the women in his life but also the American Dream that they worked so hard for. 

“My grandmother never owned a house,” Julian said back then. “She cleaned other people’s houses so she could afford to rent her own. But she saw her daughter become the first in her family to graduate from college. And my mother fought hard for civil rights so that instead of a mop, I could hold this microphone.”

It is because of women like Rosie that we have a platform to stand on as well. 

READ: Julián Castro Walked Onstage To Selena, Struggles With Spanish, And Other Ways He Lives The Latino Experience On The Campaign Trail

Lady Gaga Pledged To Fund 162 Classrooms In Dayton, El Paso And Gilroy Following Horrific Mass Shootings

Things That Matter

Lady Gaga Pledged To Fund 162 Classrooms In Dayton, El Paso And Gilroy Following Horrific Mass Shootings

Our community is still reeling after the recent mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, Gilroy, California and El Paso, Texas. In these assaults, far-right fanatics aimed their hate at places where migrants and Latinx folk gathered in a direct attack on our public safety. After these violations, public anxieties have been put on high alert. With attacks happening at stores, festivals and out in the streets, it seems like no place is safe anymore. This anxiety is only made worse with the upcoming return to school for millions of children across the nation. 

The communities of Dayton, El Paso, and Gilroy especially have reason to be unnerved but there is some good news coming their way thanks to the generosity of one of the world’s biggest stars.  

Lady Gaga has announced that her charitable foundation will “fully fund” 162 classrooms in the three assaulted communities. 

Facebook / Lady Gaga

On August 9th, the Oscar winner made a post to her Facebook account to share her generous plan. In the post, Gaga states that her Born This Way Foundation will partner with DonorsChoose.org in order to fully fund essentials for classrooms in the three impacted communities. Thanks to the help of these foundations, 14 classrooms in Dayton, 125 classrooms in El Paso, and 23 classrooms in Gilroy will get the help and support they need to welcome students back for the 2019/2020 school year. 

Gaga shared her sympathies for the affected communities. In the note addressed to Dayton, El Paso, and Gilroy, the artist wrote:

“My heart goes out to those who were taken from us too soon and to their families, loved ones, and communities who are left to grieve. Everyone has the right to laws that make them feel safe in their communities. In this moment, I want to channel my confusion, frustration, and fury into hope. Hope that we are there for each other and for ourselves.”

The signer also spoke to what will be needed to recover from these tragedies. 

Twitter / @thehill

Lady Gaga has long been an advocate for mental health awareness. In her 2019 Grammy’s acceptance speech, the singer spoke candidly about recognizing when someone needs help and getting that help without worrying about the stigma associated with mental illness. So, it makes sense that she would include a focus on mental health in her statement. 

“Surviving and recovering from these tragedies also means prioritizing your mental health and checking in on your loved ones,” the pop star wrote. “If you’re struggling, please be brave and tell a trusted someone. Don’t be scared to ask for help, I beg you. If you see a loved one struggling, please be brave and reach out, remind them it’s ok to not be ok, and listen to them. We cannot turn away from ourselves. We cannot turn away from our loved ones. We need each other. Don’t turn away.”

Mental illness is not a trigger for these tragedies but they are a result. Survivors of mass shootings are inflicted with anxiety and depression. Survivor’s guilt has also been credited for suicides after these assaults. As Gaga says in her post, we have to take care of ourselves and each other in the aftermath of these catastrophes. 

Though hearts are still heavy, El Paso citizens were uplifted by this news. 

Facebook / Lady Gaga

As a comment pointed out, a return to school is a return to normalcy for these students, teachers, and administrators. Being able to return back to class may seem like a small act but it is a reminder to these citizens that life goes on after tragedy and they will move on past this pain. Acts of kindness like the one offered by Lady Gaga will help the community get back to normal after such a life-altering event and that means a lot. 

While responses to Gaga’s philanthropy have generally been positive, many expressed frustration over the government’s lack of help in the communities impacted by mass shootings.

Twitter / @jonbaltz @TPhantom84

There’s a lot of frustration aimed at the government after these tragedies. The failure to pass comprehensive gun reform is only one reason why the public criticizes their representative after these tragedies. Another is the lack of support that these communities see the following mass shootings.

Many families have to resort to Go Fund Me’s in order to bury or cremate their lost family members. The mental impact of these assaults is also ignored by the government. If the people who represent us do nothing to solve gun violence, the least they can do is to do something to clean up after these violent attacks. Either way, something has to happen and — though it’s much appreciated — it shouldn’t be handled solely by the generosity of celebrities.