Caravans to Borderlands: A Call to Action

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Friends … It is important to deepen our conversation together on immigration justice as we begin our journey on the Caravan to the Borderlands. 

CONSIDER THESE FACTS

Here is disturbing evidence that unveils the contours of the immigration industrial complex.

  • There are 200 jails/detention centers and other sites of containment throughout the U.S.
  • Sixty percent of immigrants of color are held in private prisons. Ten percent are mandated to be held in solitary confinement.
  • Two major prison corporations derived the most profit from our tax dollars in FY 2017.  GEO received $184,000,000. Core Civic received $135,000,000. Each private prison corporation makes a profit of approximately $150 per day per bed whereas municipalities receive approximately $100. These figures show that both municipalities and private corporations benefit from the system.
  • Trump and his couriers are building militarized sites of terror where immigrants of color of all ages, including babies, will be held captive in tents in the Texas desert in 106-degree weather.
  • Trump is using national security and White fear to hide the racist and predatory nature of the immigration industrial complex.
  • There are up to 60,000 undocumented Irish immigrants in this country. Additionally, there are thousands of undocumented Eastern Europeans in the U.S. Why is U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement treating them differently than immigrants of color? 
  • The issue goes beyond separation of families. It is deeply tied into ethnic cleansing and a de-coloring of America. It is a question of Genocide as defined by the United Nations’ Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Article 2:

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethical, racial or religious group, as such:

  1. Killing members of the group;
  2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
  3. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
  4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
  5. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

— Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948 as General Assembly Resolution 260

 

THE INVITATION

There is a deep troubling growing in the land. It is the enduring troubling and persistent sins that have contaminated the souls of White America from the beginning of their invasion of America to the present. These sins are genocide, land theft, spiritual injury, captivity, commodification, vilification, dehumanization, criminalization, economic exploitation, state sanctioned rape, and psychological and spiritual warfare against Black and Brown lives and bodies.

These are long standing sins with tough and overlapping roots that cannot be untangled with sporadic oversight and Balkanized events. Nor can we untangle them by chasing one event after another, seeking a freedom high without touching solid ground in any community.

The time is now. The crisis is urgent. People of all colors recoil at the reign of White Supremacist militarized terror that Trump and his administration have unleashed against children and adult immigrants and refugees of color.

You express righteous indignation at the sight and sound of Trump's policy of children torn apart from their families. You are absolutely right to be concerned about the least of them. We understand your profound and compassionate response.  

Simultaneously, it is important to understand that Trump's White supremacist reign of terror is directed at an entire community of Black and Brown people. It generates short and long-lasting trauma for the entire community. We must read Trump's zero tolerance policy within a larger narrative that includes his travel ban against Muslims. Further, it is crucial that we contextualize it within a larger narrative that includes his announcement, as reported by CNN, that he will end the Temporary Protected Status designation for Haiti by July 2019. This policy will potentially force tens of thousands of Haitian immigrants to either leave the U.S. or live in the shadows.

When we focus solely on the children, we gloss over the ethnic cleansing and the blatant disregard of the human and civil rights of people of color that are the main ingredients of a larger culture war to keep America majority White and Christian in a growing Islamic and colored majority.

Cynically, even as Trump continues a culture war of containment against people of color, he presides over a billion dollar immigration industrial complex where corporations and other make billions of dollars off the captivity, containment, and free labor of Black and Brown bodies.

Finally, when we focus solely on the children, we create a problematic narrative of resistance that supports the White supremacist unbroken attempt to sever the continuity, cohesiveness, and intimacy of Black and Brown families and communities.

Seeing children of color, immigrants, and refugees in cages strikes us that there is an insatiable hunger in the White western soul for materialism or the materialization of power. Yet the spoils from all of these are not enough, because the hunger is a spiritual one that cannot be satisfied with materialism. Unfortunately, this emptiness of the Spirit now plagues the entire globe, seeping into communities of color and in the aspirations of women.

Nothing less than a spiritual grassroots movement will shift our nation’s center of gravity from the values of Empire and insatiable greed. We call for a spiritual grassroots movement in which we strategically chart out long- and short-term goals and victories that shift our values away from a “thing” oriented society to a beloved community. 

Vincent Harding reminds us that there is hope in history. During our journey through this “veil of tears,” many people of color have been the beneficiaries of the gracious companionship and revolutionary love from many of our White brothers and sisters, often in unexpected places. History matters. These experiences shape our firm belief that authentic movements must operate from a redemptive vision that recognizes, names, and speaks to the goodness in all of us. We cannot imitate the Empire and let our impulses for retribution and punishment shape our movements. Nor can we let an over and against vision propel our movements. In short, our starting point for our work must begin with our love for justice, rather than our hatred for injustice. Further, authentic movements turn non-redemptive anger that produces hate and otherness into redemptive anger that is a creative soul force in movements where the power of revolutionary love is the breath of our work.

Caravan to the Borderlands is such a movement. It plants our feet on solid ground while putting us in a dynamic process that takes us on the way to a higher spiritual and social consciousness. On our way, we will encounter and dismantle the borderlands that are sites of terror for Black and Brown refugees and immigrants as well as the borderlands in our hearts. Further, we recognize that the actions at the borderlands emerge out of the chronic rot of White supremacy. Therefore, Caravan to the Borderlands is a movement that heeds the symptoms and also treats the site of the disease. We will address issues such as separating young children from their families and the commodification of Brown and Black bodies in the immigration industrial complex where profit is a primary impetus. In our unique approach, this movement will also address the poverty of the Western soul that causes trafficking in human flesh. We will work for the spiritual and social restoration of America. 
 

OUR MOVEMENT ETHIC AND GROUNDING

Welcome aboard to this holistic movement that Rev. Dr. Jacqui J. Lewis and Dr. Ruby Nell Sales are incubating and birthing in the common space of the Vincent and Rosemarie Harding Center for Spiritual and Social Restoration. 

Caravan to the Borderlands is a multi-ethnic and democratized movement that has wide open spaces for each of you to bring your gifts to deepen our collective thinking on a way forward. 

We believe that once you claim your space on the caravan, you will share our excitement about this 21st-century spiritual movement that roots itself in the spiritual belief and social project that values the efficacy of all bodies and lives in an age of human disposability and inessentiality.

Caravan breaks with this culture with a holistic praxis of consciousness-raising, spiritual reflection, critical analysis, and direct action that remove Empire cataracts from our eyes and enables us to see ourselves and others more clearly. It is a movement that redeems the soul of America through community formation that includes recapitulation, reparation, reconciliation, restoration, and resurrection.

Just as the great prophets Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi understood the need to place people in process before they joined the great marches, we recognize that people need to remove the borders within their own hearts in a healing process of community formation before visiting the sites of terror. Therefore, our invitation is more than one event. We invite you to a movement beyond Empire consciousness toward a higher mountaintop one where we tap deeply into the consciousness and spirit of God in all of us as we touch it in others. It is a journey to free our inner lives and outer world of borders. 

The dictionary defines caravans as a group of travelers, as merchants or pilgrims, journeying together for safety through deserts and hostile territory. The hostile territories in this country include racism, misogyny, heterosexism, classism, and militarism. ICE is executing all of these isms against immigrants of color and their families. The reports of horrors faced by refugees keep surfacing. An example of such involves pregnant women. ICE is not supposed to detain pregnant women and, according to a 2016 memo, pregnant women should only be detained in so-called extraordinary circumstances. Despite this, the agency acknowledges that they are detaining hundreds of pregnant women annually. A growing problem is the lack of medical attention that has led to several detained women having miscarriages.

Especially in this MeToo moment, it is important to name and confront the state sanctioned rape against women, girls, and lesbians in the sites of terror. Even now, the story of a sexual crime against a four-year-old girl, her mother terrorized into secrecy breaks our hearts and activates our movement. Vulnerable, powerless, and alone, far too many are easy prey for guards and other employees. Caravan to the Borderlands says to the world that these women are our sisters, too.

We imagine caravans as a spirit-led movement of sojourners with a common vision and a common cause, which moves us toward a common destination — protecting, loving, and educating each other through hostile Empire territory, gaining friends along the way. We will embark on a long-term commitment with each other in which we will accompany each other on many different stops and filling stations along the way. All aboard! Here is your preparation work and destination.

 

OUR COLLECTIVE BACKPACK AND COMMON WORK

Task 1. Join the conversation. Share your email so we can begin a conversation about our grassroots movement.

Task 2. Caravan will convene scouts and planters who will navigate both the dangerous and good terrain, assisting us in drawing a road map, common agreements, and community norms that adhere to the spiritual and social mission of the caravans. Planters and scouts will be selected to assist with outreach, logistics, curriculum, fundraising, tithing, field work, media, education, and training.

Task 3. Submit your request to organize a caravan, to be a part of one, or to volunteer. We hope to begin the journey with a caravan of no less than 20 cars. As immigrants are being shipped to detention centers thousands of miles apart throughout the United States, we expect to begin a caravan in New York City, making stops in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and ending with a hunger strike in Washington, D.C. In each of these locations, we will stage a sit-in. A caravan from the south will meet the New York caravan in D.C.

Task 4. Our scouts will organize grassroots mass political education sessions in their communities or region.

Task 5. Our fundraising committee will raise money specifically for a billboard campaign.

Task 6. Caravans will help organize a meeting at the United Nations based on its Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Article 2.

Are you ready? We are! 

Ruby and Jacqui

Jacqui Lewis