Thursday, July 31, 2008

O How I Want to Be in That Number

Earlier this month eProf found an AP story about an upcoming July 27 rally at Postville, IA, site of history’s largest immigration raid May 12. From the moment he told me, I longed to attend it. And Sunday, attend it I did. I had to go. You probably know how I’ve poured over this story, searching the internet for details of the raid and its aftermath and sharing them here. This story broke my heart, and I so longed to put my body where my mind already was: Postville.

Some people question the efficacy of rallies and protests. They may be right. Millions around the world marched against an initiation of Gulf War II to no avail. But a song-writing, professional musician-hippy-leftover I worked with (and adored) once realized aloud to me why he went to a little rally we’d both attended. With eyes wide in a new self-understanding, he exclaimed: “I go to these things because that’s who I am. And that’s what I have to do to be me!”

I couldn’t have put it any more succinctly.

  • Sunday’s Highlights:
    Hearing the Scriptures—powerful passages of liberation and justice—read sequentially in Spanish, English, and Hebrew.
  • Marching with old friends from my hometown, busing with activists from my new metro area whom I’d never met before, praying with strangers from Minneapolis and Chicago, saying to (an apparently Guatemalan) woman on the march: “We’re here because you are in our hearts and we support you.”
  • Meeting and thanking Postville’s pastoral leaders upon whom national attention was thrust uninvited but who have proven that small town Iowa can be equal to that challenge.

The relentless camera coverage of Lynda Waddington of The Iowa Independent and Essential Estrogen indeed caught me marching as part of “that number.” People-watching is a lovely perk of these events, so if you care to indulge, her vid is below. [I march past at 2:42-2:44, BTW.] .

There's more--so much more--to say. Postville is full of stories. I'm not finished, just ending for today.


Essential Estrogen said...

Hey -- wish I would have known it was you! What an amazing and emotional weekend in Postville, huh?

Border Explorer said...

Hello, E.E.! That's exactly how I felt about you when I saw myself on the video. The event was so overwhelming, however, that it wouldn't have been ideal circumstances for meeting each other. What I'd want to say most of all: Thank you so very much for your dedicated coverage of this situation.

eProf2 said...

Great post. Great march. And, yes, I recognized you with your shades on right away. I hope something positive will emerge from the protest and the US will do something about immigration laws that will result in meaningful change for those who seek work to support their families, no matter where they come from and no matter how they get here.

Border Explorer said...

Hope so, too, eProf. With assistance from the NYTimes' focused attention, Saturday's congressional visit to Postville, and the Congressional subcommittee hearing last Thursday, I hope change is a'brewing. But the ICE raids keep rolling on...leaving suffering of innocent children in their wake.

Randal Graves said...

Sometimes a protest is the only visible voice a cause has.

D.K. Raed said...

does my heart good to see how many people turned out! so many people, I couldn't spot you (hmmm, eprof says "shades" but every other person was wearing them) ... but that's OK, while looking for you, I spotted concerned humanity, a component of which you definitely are. It was beautiful.

I especially appreciated the exchange where a woman says, "I'm here because I was born in America". To which the hispanic gentlemen she is talking to says, "So was I" ... volumes spoken between the lines there.

Border Explorer said...

Randal: insightful, pithy, and right on-target. Thanks.

D.K.: glad you enjoyed the parade. So did Postville, as townspeople sat on their lawns and porches and enjoyed the "show."
You picked up on a meaningful exchange in the vid: What does it mean to be an "American?" Reminds me of Enigma's recent post.

Mnmom said...

Every single white person in attendance descended from immigrants. When should we have shut the door? After the British? The Germans? The Swedes? The Welsh? The Norwegians? The Irish? The Italians? The Russians?

Mnmom said...

AND while watching that it struck me. That parade was full of what many white Americans fear: people of many colors, languages, backgrounds, ages, abilities, cultures etc walking together for the common good. It just chaps their hide to no end.

Randal Graves said...

mnmon, yet so many of these Americans will travel abroad on vacation to experience this stuff.

We're already too in danger of becoming a monoculture here.