Things That Matter

These Harrowing Letters Written By Children In Detention Centers Are Surfacing With Accounts Of Sexual Assault And Hunger

Reports of sexual and physical abuse in detention centers aren’t new, but a series of handwritten letters by migrant youth in detention centers offer a closer look at the violence and neglect children experience during their journeys to the US and while locked up in immigration holding centers.

Spanish-language network Univision obtained a dozen letters from children, between the ages of 13 and 17, who denounced the inhumane conditions, which one described as “torment,” at the “hieleras” or “perreras,” Spanish for holding cells. Each of the youths spoke under the condition of anonymity.

One migrant teen said she was “treated badly” and “starved” under US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), also noting that agents spoke to her “with demeaning and discriminatory words.” Another child added that youth who became ill weren’t treated; instead, they were placed in confinement

Univision Noticias /YouTube

One teenage girl, who said she spent five days in a cell sick, confirmed the allegation.

“I was sick, I asked for help and they did not offer it to me,” she wrote. “There were babies crying, sick children. We only bathed one time since we arrived. I had a very bad time, they treated us badly, they woke us up all the time.”

One of the unaccompanied minors said the young migrants “didn’t have anything to sleep on” and that they “couldn’t bathe themselves.”

Outside a shelter in Mexico, where one boy stopped during his journey to the US, he said he was sexually abused while begging for food. The child left the Casa del Migrante in Tijuana, Baja to ask strangers for donations so he could pay for food. That’s when one man stopped and coerced him into a sexual exchange.

Univision Noticias /YouTube

“He told me, ‘I want you to do something to me that I want with you,’” the boy noted in his letter. “Well, he took me to a hotel room. He told me, ‘bathe.’ I bathed and then he forced me to have sex with him because I was hungry, well, the necessity. He forced me because I was very hungry. And I had to do it not because I wanted to, but because he forced me. Well, everything happened and he gave me money. For me it was very dirty, but the necessity [to eat] led me to do it.”

As a result of the violence they experienced during their trek north and while in US detention centers, some teens expressed an interest in doing work in their new country to help unaccompanied minors like themselves.

“My dream is to study to be a lawyer so that I can help migrants from other countries to achieve their dream as I am fulfilling my dream,” one undocumented teen wrote. 

Univision Noticias /YouTube

She added: “My dream is to be a lawyer because I know it’s hard to leave our country.”

According to United States guidelines, unaccompanied youth must be released from Border Patrol facilities within 72 hours, where they are then required to be transferred to the United States Department of Health & Human Services, which places the children with a sponsor. Currently, there are tens of thousands of youth at CBP facilities along the border.

Read:  In Mexican Shelters, African And Haitian Migrants Are Uprising Against Inhumane Treatment

Keke Palmer Gets Real With The National Guard During Protests

Things That Matter

Keke Palmer Gets Real With The National Guard During Protests

keke/ Instagram, MatthewACherry/ Instagram

Hustlers actress Keke Palmer has always known how to deliver. Her performance as the titular character in the 2006 film Akeelah and the Bee stole the hearts of audiences watching and delivered such a strong message about perseverance. Palmer delivered yet another powerful message on Tuesday amidst the peaceful demonstrations taking place in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.

Taking part in Tuesday protests, the actress spoke to several members of the National Guard telling them that they can be part of the change.

While asking National Guard members to “be the change” in the fight against racial injustice, Keke spoke passionately about wanting to see them join protests.

“We have people here that need your help,” Palmer told National Guard officers in a video Tweeted by NBC News correspondent Gadi Schwartz. “This is when y’all stand together with the community, with society, to stop the governmental oppression. Period. We need you, so march with us.”

Palmer went on to ask members to “March with us. March beside us. Get your people. March beside us. Let the revolution be televised. March beside us and show us that you’re here for us. Let’s just do it. We start marching and you march with us. Make history with us, please.”

After listening to Palmer a guard member offered to walk with the group across an intersection but remained steadfast that they had to stay at their post.

But Palmer urged that this was not good enough.

“March with us, it will send a huge message,” Palmer continued, “You’re the protector. If you’re supposed to be patrolling us, then walk with us.”The guardsman explained again that he could not move from his post, but when another protester asked the guardsmen to take a knee they did so.

Unsatisfied, Palmer continued to say the action was not enough for her and later shared her thoughts on the events taking place across the country.

“Racism is what the country was built on slavery, systematic oppression, then voter oppression, female oppression, poor education system so you’re intentionally uninformed, financial oppression,” Palmer said in the video. “Human beings can only take so much. Americans need government reform that demands legislation and new laws that birth the future for our kids. We deserve a new system because the old one was created to oppress us.”

TikTok’s ‘Check Your Privilege’ Challenge Will You Give You A Much Needed Reality Check

Things That Matter

TikTok’s ‘Check Your Privilege’ Challenge Will You Give You A Much Needed Reality Check

TikTok

Among demanding justice for victims like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, protestors and activists across the globe are demanding awareness of the privileges that protect non-Black people A new challenge trending on TikTok is pressing users to do just this and it’s worth your participation.

A TikTok user by the name of @boss_bigmamma recently asked users to examine their privileges, and the prejudices they may face due to their race.

Flipping the platform’s popular “put a finger down” game on its head, @boss_bigmamma (whose name is Kenya) used the game to show the discriminations she’s unjustly experienced as a black woman. She then asked other TikTokers to do the same.

Speaking with BuzzFeed News about the now-viral challenge, Kenya said “I know discrimination happens for many reasons, which is why I labeled it ‘check your privilege’ instead of ‘white privilege.” Kenya also said that people who have participated have said that they found the “Check Your Privilege” challenge relatable when it came to instances related to their religion and socioeconomic status.

Kenya’s “put a finger down” experiences as listed in the video are below.

– Put a finger down if you have been called a racial slur.

– Put a finger down if you’ve been followed in a store unnecessarily.

– Put a finger down if someone has crossed the street in order to avoid passing you.

– Put a finger down if you’ve had someone clench their purse in an elevator with you.

– Put a finger down if you’ve had someone step off of an elevator to keep from riding with you.

– Put a finger down if you’ve been accused of not being able to afford something expensive.

– Put a finger down if you’ve had fear in your heart when being stopped by the police.

– Put a finger down if you’ve never been given a pass on a citation you deserved.

– Put a finger down if you have been stopped or detained by police for no valid reason.

– Put a finger down if you have been bullied solely because of your race.

– Put a finger down if you’ve been denied service solely because of the color of your skin.

– Put a finger down if you’ve ever had to teach your children how not to get killed by the police.

Fortunately, quite a few people who are not of color have shared the results of their challenge.

Interracial couples are also highlighting their experiences as well.

Interracial couple Allison Holker and her husband Stephen ‘tWitch’ Boss shared the differences they experience due to the color of their skin.