When I walked into my first day of work at Grassroots Leadership, Cristina had been there for at least an hour already working on the call-in campaign to get Sara and Nayely released from Karnes. She quickly explained to me what was going on and asked me to jump in where I felt comfortable. Just over a month later, we had planned the rally at Karnes and released the report on family detention. Even today, my last day, I feel like there is much to do and that this work will never be done. (Although is it just me, or does it seem like Judge Gee handed down the ruling just in time?)
I was placed at Grassroots Leadership for a year term through the Presbyterian Church (USA) Young Adult Volunteer program. I don’t often talk about my faith — I prefer the “preach the gospel every day, and when necessary use words” brand of religiosity — but serving at Grassroots Leadership has been a blessing. Ever since I made my first call to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), I have felt settled in the knowledge that I'm meant to be working towards justice for all. Although immigrant detention projects required most of my time and energy, particularly the fight to end family detention, I was given the opportunity to examine my place in this world and most importantly ask questions about everything. I've become conscious of the priviledge I'm afforded just by being born in white skin. I've become aware that justice for one group means more justice for another group. I've become passionate about learning how to be an ally.
Though I won’t be working for Grassroots Leadership, I anticipate continuing to organize with TUFF and visit the women in Hutto. What I’ve learned this year about community organizing and advocacy is that social justice movements need people with many different gifts to work together. Over the past 11 months, I've witnessed that collaboration and I'm confident that it will continue. I'm filled with gratitude for every person who has shared their gifts with me. You make me very hopeful for the future.
Cristina and Emma at Dilley. Photo by Steve Pavey.