Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Collaborative Solidarity for Social Justice and Human Rights

Social media is easy armchair activism--yet it yields power in these small acknowledgements of human connection and collective action for justice. I was proud that a couple key family and friends came out as allies with their profile pictures. Solidarity is a feeling that breeds courage, and we need more of that now than ever. 

The red and pink equals sign logo pictured here was borrowed from a DREAMer activist and the image depicts a monarch butterfly, a symbol of liberty in migration, as marriage equality is a life-or-death issue for some of the 11 million US residents who are undocumented, and face persecution at home for their identities and relationships. There is no equality in living in constant fear that a knock at the front door will lead to a partner being arrested and taken to immigration detention and deportation without a trial. There is no equality in the lack of equal access to medical care, protection of children's relationships in the family, and shared property rights. There is no equality in lack of access to employment, driving privileges, and even the ability to open a joint bank account. Yet despite these constant threats of family separation, civil marriage offers some limited protections that must be demanded for all and extended to any who wish. 

The movement for equal rights must not neglect the disenfranchised and must reflect the beauty of real diversity. People have every right to be who they are and to live and to love in freedom as God created is to love and thrive in liberty and in community.

This week on Twitter, the United Farm Workers Union founded by César Chávez and Dolores Huerta is hosting a hashtag photo-sharing collaboration during lunch breaks for workers in the fields (#FieldFotos). In the US, we outsource our food production and much of our domestic produce is harvested by newcomers to our country who are being denied papers and who are kept in constant separation from their families. This is simple:  We eat. We vote. We are in this together.

Collaboration does not water down the struggle for acceptance. Casting a wide net for allies means allowing people to connect in their own way to the issues of human rights and social justice. One human rights issue leads to another as our logic follows civic engagement. Community-based networking leads to friendships with flesh and blood people engaged in human struggles. The stories of real lives that face barriers in pursuing happiness can lead to change. Stories slow us down and make us listen. They remind us of our own struggles. It is at the level of the story that we can connect and transform.

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