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Migrant Rights

Seven-Year-Olds Lead A Strike

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For over a decade I’ve been teaching my six-, seven-, and eight-year-old students to strike against me in the classroom. I drew the inspiration from “the Yummy Pizza company” labor unit1 and my own experience as a teacher and writer. Instead of producing pizzas, students at “Pepper Ink.” produce laminated bookmarks of the best poem they’ve written in a year-long study of the genre. This year, however, the experience took a different turn when one of our potential Pepper Ink. workers was forcibly removed from the school.

Students begin the year in my second grade two-way Spanish immersion class by comparing indigenous and first world points of view on the conquest of the Americas, go on to study Africa, women, and finally civil rights and labor heroes. They engage in internet and library research for their own books, questioning contradicting sources, and examining information critically. They sit in heterogeneous cooperative groups in which they rotate the job of teacher, who is to assist anyone needing help, if the group cannot. They can also file complaints in a box about one another’s abuse of power, including mine. From this process, my students develop a healthy sense of justice and participatory-style democracy. Students often refer to the Doug Minkler poster on our wall, which includes the slogan, “All of Us or None.”

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Day Labor Program Unites Politics and Services

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I push a partially shattered glass door of an incongruous looking office and walk past a group of Latino and African American men into the offices of the San Francisco Day Labor Program (SF-DLP) in the Mission district. It is a slightly chilly morning but that doesn’t deter the workers awaiting a job assignment from taking a break outdoors. Inside, rows of half-occupied chairs—like those seen in hospital waiting rooms—accost my eyes. The workers mill about, chat, read the newspaper, and one of them, Leon, reads the popular Hindu scripture Bhagavad Gita. The spiritual detachment propounded in the Gita helps him overcome the despair of waiting, he claims. It is a long wait alright—barely 10 per cent of the waiting work force will work that day.

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Mónica Hernández : Highlander Research and Education Center

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“The only way change is going to happen is from the bottom up.”

I believe that popular education starts from personal experience and builds a deliberate intentionality about trying to help people look at the conditions and issues they are dealing with on changing things and making things better.

I first heard about popular education when I was doing HIV prevention work in San Francisco with immigrant women. I started learning about some of the models that had been used in Latin America with immigrant communities, like the promotora de salud model. The premise of promotora de salud was that people in the community were the best messengers to other folks in the community. That was my introduction to popular education as a tool to help individuals learn and as a method of empowering and organizing communities.

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Joyti Chand : South Asian Network

Joyti Chand based on an interview by Diana Pei Wu

Taking Time To Share, Heal and Move Forward Together

At the South Asian Network (SAN) we work with youth and older South Asian people to engage them in dialogues on racism, violence within the family, and immigration. We look at how policies on these issues impact the community. The question is, how do we do that so that the community feels a sense of entitlement and ownership?

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Kayse Jama: Center for Intercultural Organizing

Privilege and Power and White Allies

Popular education works with immigrant and refugee community leaders because it is something they can relate to based on cultural and historical background. It’s a style that we know as indigenous cultures, for example, myself as a Somali refugee. It’s based on people sharing knowledge and having open space to solve and create space where people work together. So it’s part of our culture even though we may not have the same words for it.

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Immigration, Population, and Environmental Justice

Immigration is once again at the center of national debate, deemed a major threat to U.S. national security after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Capitalizing on the 911 1 backlash, the anti-immigrant movement rapidly added terrorism to its list of social and economic ills to blame on immigrants, reviving longstanding arguments against immigration. Fueled by the economic slump, the 9/11 anti-immigrant hysteria now threatens to devour the civil and human rights of immigrants and non-immigrants alike, giving new life to unbridled calls for racially restrictive measures. This volatile situation presents the immigrant rights movement with tough challenges and opportunities that put the defense of the rights of immigrants at the center of the demands for social, environmental, economic and racial justice.

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