InertiaOne of the very uncomfortable realizations I have come to is exactly how much I can identify with the Sofia Coppola Feminists and their solopsism. It's so easy to center yourself and your own difficulties and grievances, and much more difficult to see others and their suffering, and to do something about it. I won't pat myself on the back that I have taken the one step that so many other Americans can't even manage. I read blogs and read or watch news reports and am cognizant of the actions of our government that negatively affect people within our own population and overseas. The same goes for what other governments or international institutions do that impact people's lives. What distinction or praise do I deserve for sitting back and saying, "Tut tut, that's terribly sad."? What is that but as BlackAmazon describes of Sofia Coppola Feminism, "It is a feminism that demands an emptiness (real or invented) of reflection, instead replacing it with self involvement." How does my momentarily feeling uncomfortable actually help anyone or change anything? It's self involvement, it's a form of self deception if I even for a second believe that my knowledge without action is any better than someone else's ignorance.
Many of you already do so much. Some of what you do is difficult but much of it actually isn't. It's not that hard to make a difference. It's easier to sit back and feel helpless and make excuses.
Write: make yourself aware of what is happening in your world and blog about it so that others will be aware too. Your senators and congresspeople take your letters seriously. The editor of your local paper doesn't know the concerns of it's community if you remain silent.
Donate: find organizations that alleviate the suffering of people or push for legislation to do this and give what you can.
Volunteer: Your time is valuable to more people than yourself.
Organize: Going to conferences, joining political groups, and demonstrating with like minded people are all ways to make a difference.
What prompted this post? Both Plain(s)Feminist and BrownFemiPower have been blogging about the New Bedford round up of immigrants. My first thought was, "What difference can I make? I'm only one person with a minor blog!" And ***SMACK*** I hear BlackAmazon in my head saying, "Its helplessness as a feminist standpoint."
Enough. I may not have many readers, but you are here reading this. Between you, and me, and your readers, and their readers, and so on, we can make a difference right here and right now.
On March 6, 2007, there was an immigration raid on Michael Bianco Inc, a leather goods factory in New Bedford, Mass. 361 workers were detained, about half were flown to detention centers in Texas before DSS (Department of Social Services) officials in Mass could interview them about their family situations and whether they had children who would need care. Between 100-200 children were left stranded at school, daycare, or with baby sitters. At least 2 nursing babies had to be hospitalized for dehydration because their mothers could not be found.
State officials repeatedly asked to be involved in the raid to avoid the humanitarian crisis that has unfolded and were refused by ICE (Immmigration & Customs Enforcement). ICE is under the authority of the DHS (Department of Homeland Security). Heckuva job again DHS!
Of the nation’s 23 largest cities, Boston has the fifth “highest proportion of foreign-born residents,” according to “New Bostonians 2005,” a report by the Mayor’s Office of New Bostonians. Here in the South End, nearly 23 percent of residents are recent immigrants — meaning that they were born outside of the U.S. Boston immigrants own more than 8000 small businesses and employ about 37,000 people. They generate more than $823 million in state and federal taxes. Some of them are here illegally. Arresting them and deporting them back to Haiti, the Dominican Republic or China — which are the homelands of the city’s three largest immigrant groups — solves nothing. As the New Bedford raid shows, such attempts at deportation have what we can only hope were unintended consequences.
Not only did Michael Bianco Inc have the one government contract that everyone knows about, for $83.6 million to make backpacks and safety vests for the Pentagon's Defense Logistics Agency, they also have a US Army contract for $138 million.
They manufacture high end leather goods for Coach, Timberland, and Rockport.
It is alleged that INSOLIA (the owner of Michael Bianco Inc.) continues to maintain a workforce of which the majority are illegal aliens. It is further alleged that he intentionally seeks out illegal aliens because they are more desperate to find employment, and are thus more likely to endure severe workplace conditions he has imposed. It is alleged that these conditions include: docking of pay by 15 minutes for every minute an employee is late; fining employees $20 for spending more than 2 minutes in the restroom and firing for a subsequent infraction; providing one roll of toilet paper per restroom stall per day, typically resulting in the absence of toilet paper after only 40 minutes each day; fining employees $20 for leaving work area before break bell sounds; and fining employees $20 for talking while working and firing for a subsequent infraction.
Michael Bianco Inc was making huge amounts of money on it's contracts. The only reason to take advantage of immigrants is GREED. The owner and managers were arrested and within one day are back on the street. You see, they had access to lawyers and cash, unlike the immigrants.
Dear leader was greeted with protests in Guatemala concerning the raid in New Bedford. Many of the immigrants detained are from Guatemala. While there he lied, no surprise since it comes so naturally. Mr. Bush said he disputed "conspiracies" relayed by Mr. Berger [Guatemala's President] that children were taken away from families. Mr. Bush denied such accounts. "No es la verdad," Mr. Bush said, "That's not the way America operates. We're a decent, compassionate country. Those are the kind of things we do not do. We believe in families, and we'll treat people with dignity."
What can we do? From the South End News:
The solution is comprehensive immigration reform that allows those who are living here illegally to work toward legal status. On March 21, a public hearing will be held at the State House for a bill sponsored by South End State Rep. Byron Rushing that would change Massachusetts law to help immigrants obtain state services and legal immigration status. Kennedy is sponsoring a similar law in Congress. You can attend the March 21 hearing to show your support or write the committee in charge of the bill, the Joint Committee on Children and Families, to show your support. Meanwhile, you can contact Kennedy, U.S. Sen. John Kerry and Congressman Michael Capuano to urge them to pass immigration reform as quickly as possible.
If you wish to help those impacted by the March 6 raid on the Michael Bianco plant, you can send a check to the New Bedford Immigrant Families/Ninos Fund. Make the check out to the MIRA Coalition, 105 Chauncy St., Boston, 02111. Donations are tax deductible and 100 percent of the proceeds will be distributed by families impacted by the raid. The MIRA Coalition is also recruiting volunteers who can help drive family members from New Bedford to the JFK Building in Boston to attend legal proceedings. Call 617.350.5480 or visit www.miracoalition.org for more information.
While much of this post has been writing about me and my feelings, I'm not fishing for compliments. I'll be disappointed if anyone says, "Oh poor baby, you're not that bad." because you'll seriously be missing the point. It's about all of us making a difference. If you already have places you are spending your time, effort, and money on. Woo Hoo! If not, or you have this unpleasant feeling, like I do, that you could be doing more I've given you some suggestions where to start. I'd be sooooooo happy if you all link to Plain(s)Feminist and BFP's posts on New Bedford for one thing.
Update: BFP has more! If you're one of those people who are thinking, but gosh, those immigrants are "illegals", they are breaking the laws and deserve what they get. Read her post. Sometimes the laws are immoral. Any law that doesn't recognize that we are all citizens of the world and deserve equal treatment, equal dignity, and equal respect is an immoral law.