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I Choose Mike: Some thoughts on social media shenanigans on Bernie & Black Lives Matter

Some thoughts in response to all the shenanigans on social media pontificating about interruptions of Bernie Sanders by Black Lives Matter activists.

Today many remember Michael Brown, and reflect on what his death stirred in the souls of millions. How the image of his body left on a street and the naked disregard and dehumanization it showed caused something to spill over. Whether you view it a reclamation, resurrection, an uprising or an reinvigoration of Black liberation movements, the difference between one year ago and today is that you must pick a side.

The crisis of violence, the devaluation and dehumanization of Black people far precedes the fate of Michael Brown. No longer is it that one can look away, pretending not to see. No longer can one just step over that body laying in the street, feeling its ok because, hey, at least you didn’t step on them. Today, that signifies picking a side.

Today, I don’t want to talk about Bernie. I don’t want to talk about how he was interrupted, when we could be talking about why he and his campaign are so either oblivious or arrogant that they have not responded to the critique. I don’t want to talk about whether or not these tactics are ‘strategic’ unless we talk about how your ‘strategic’ got us here in the first damn place. And I don’t think anyone, in particular Black people who are refusing death and oblivion, organizing, striving have to explain over and over again. Because, Facebook Monday morning quarterbacks, I don’t see you asking questions that loud about how we deal with problems inside of Labor, inside of the climate justice movement, immigrant rights movement.

If you want to make today about that, go ahead. But make sure you look down and see what side you’re standing on. Just know (because of all who have stood up, have died, have been really damn inconvenient and unstrategic at times), no one gets a pass.

Know what? I choose Mike.

Bernie don’t get a pass cause he did something for civil rights XX years ago. Its not time for getting pass. It’s time to show the fuck up and be on the right side. We owe it to Michael Brown and his family, we owe it to them to fight like we want this violence to truly, end.

Rest in peace, hermano. You are not forgotten.


I see you, Selma.

I wasn’t in Selma this past weekend. As I’ve seen the images and reports its made me smile to remember a trip out there from a couple of years ago. During the Undocubus tour we were invited to Selma during our stop in Alabama, we were hosted by Alabama state Senator Hank Sanders and civil rights activist and artist Faya Rose Sanders Toure. When I saw the convergence of civil rights movement veterans, including people who were on the bridge on that bloody Sunday to young new activists to elected officials, reporters, hella famous people…I can only imagine the joy and pride of the people we met with. And for good reason. They been holding it down. Read more

Notes from Creating Change

Never one to arrive early to the airport, I am hurriedly stuffing an exaggerated amount of jackets into my poor suitcase anticipating a Denver that looks like the Coors Light commercials I see on TV. Carlos, my friend/colleague/co-conspirator (and ride to the airport), ever looking at me half bored and half curious. He asks again what is Creating Change and what happens there? Read more

the Walk & the Wade ~ Open Sea

I was born and raised in the desert. So you can imagine that when I first caught a glimpse of the ocean, it was a big deal. As I walked up close to the shore I got dizzy. My head felt it before my toes did. But it was a good kind of dizzy, I guess, because I did not turn back. Even if I didn’t (don’t) know how to swim I kept moving towards it, tickled by the splash of the waves and impressed by the power and immensity of it all.

Recently I’ve been asked how it feels leaving my organization after several years and an intense, gratifying stint. I’ve responded that it feels like I’m wading out into open sea. Read more

Dominoes in DC: Quick Take on Growing Pressure on the President

Last fall signs began to appear in front of ICE offices and detention centers: CLOSED.

Colorful banners unfurled, music and chants filled the air, even ‘ICE is Closed’ cupcakes made it into the mix.  People made their way to the closest outposts of the deportation machine, to the federal enforcement agency with a budget that has ballooned larger than all other enforcement agencies combined.    Arms linked, locking down, driven to action to demand what seemed impossible.  A pledge was made to take matters in our own hands, because it was necessary and it was worth it.   Read more

Feet on the Ground, Head in the Sky: Reflections on the #Not1More Deportation Campaign

I never thought my favorite Talking Heads song could describe campaign strategy.

Nevertheless, in addition to compelling me to sing badly, real loud, out loud, there’s this part in ‘This Must be the Place’ that reminds me of the #Not1More Deportation campaign: Feet on the Ground, Head in the Sky…

The #Not1More deportation campaign grows out of several years of day laborer and community organizing to resist the devolution of federal immigration enforcement to local law enforcement agencies.  During that time the campaign demands have evolved with the growth of the deportation machine and the efforts to resist it.  We know them by now: the ‘Secure Communities’ program, 287(g) agreements, Operation Streamline, state laws like Georgia’s HB87, Arizona’s SB1070 and unfortunately, many other policies.  All throughout, the compass of our organizing has been the idea that we are fighting for legalization by resisting criminalization.

This year, parallel to the large scale and heavy lift of a campaign that is for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) in Congress, we launched the #Not1More deportation campaign.  Parallel because we believed that making deportations an issue within the debate would advance reform efforts, not undermine them.  People who have been ensnared in the deportation dragnet are some of the best spokespeople who can explain why change is needed.  We also viewed the campaign as necessary because it could hold ‘champions’ accountable while helping to prevent the right-ward shift we’ve seen happen to countless other bills of this size in Congress (i.e. healthcare, budget).  Finally, it was needed because the passage of CIR was not a guarantee, and our community desperately needs relief.  In the absence of changing laws, we knew that the remaining option that could benefit the largest amount of people was through changing policy in the executive branch, within the Obama Administration. Read more

Día de los Muertos, 2013

*english below*

El primero sin ti.

Han pasado meses, los días van volando desde que te fuiste.  De un lado es posible, y a veces hasta fácil seguir sin sentir, sin reconocerlo.  Tu ausencia la siento de vez en cuando, como una brisa, tan suave que a veces ni siquiera me doy cuenta hasta que me pasa por la cara, el pelo.  Sin prisa, pero definitivo.  Me lleva la brisa a esa herida que nunca se cura, a un vacío.  Aun cuando no podemos seguir, el tiempo nos lleva cargando.

Y así llego a este cementerio y se que es hora, Viejo.

Con el rastrillo en la mano, a sacudir esta tierra enojona que al ser quebrantada cubre todo de nuevo.  El cemento de tu sepulcro esta seco, el diseño del mosaico ya hecho.  Todo para este Día de los Muertos.  Día de homenaje para los que ya no están, noche cuando la memoria baila con la realidad.   Read more

Winning Immigration Reform or Winning Elections?

Op-ed originally published on October 23, 2013 – Fox News Latino

Perhaps never before has there been such a broad coalition and well-formed consensus on the need for inclusion of those who are undocumented in our country. Years of struggle, sacrifice, and unprecedented organizing have built momentum to force immigration onto the national agenda and Congress’ docket. Yet, even though legalization is inevitable, the outcome of its legislation is still and uncertain.

As frustration builds with the delay in Congress, more eyes are being cast to the President to take action on the issue. But pressure on the executive branch to use its authority is not a shift away from legislation or, as some have critiqued, a ‘giving up’ on it. First and foremost it is an overdue alleviation of unnecessary suffering. Secondly, it’s exactly the tactic needed to propel any legislation forward.

To pit campaigns for legislative reform and administrative relief against one another is a false choice. Successful social movements throughout history have always been defined by multiple forces, pushing on multiple fronts. Read more

Gettin’ Back on the Road (and, writing again)

The feeling…it was kind of like sitting in a hospital waiting room anticipating the birth of a child.  But the reality was that I was standing tippy-toed, peering over a barb-wired cement fence trying to get a peep at Priscila the Undocubus.  She was sitting sad in a tow yard.  Aaaaand, maybe not as dramatic as awaiting child birth. 🙂 Read more

Hospital Days

March 15

Today I came ready to pick my dad up from the hospital. We wait for someone to make the call for his ‘check out’, it doesn’t come. Under flourescent lights in this room and the doses of morphine in his body, he doesn’t know what day or time it is. Both of us search the room for a way to pass the time. We discover behind the window blinds, a door and a balcony. I push it open and the sunlight bursts in. All of a sudden, it doesn’t matter what day it is. Lo natural he nods at me.

A breeze slow dances in the room. Satisfied, he arranges his a pair of glasses over his nose, back to the Crossword Scratchers game. He starts to sing under his breathe. Quieres escuchar música? I grasp for something to make him feel better, to shake this place up. He looks at me through the top of his glasses, pues siiiii. I ask him what he wants to hear, and he says whatever, and there we go with the back and forth. I figure, I can provide the Spotify, you gotta give me the name of the song your humming. He finally says, Marco Antonio Solis. The music fills the room, springtime day in room B418. And, a victory of 5 dollars with scratchers.