Cover Story

Activist Reflections



One of the most important things I’ve learned is that change takes time. We can rush into action because we think we need to, but if we don’t think it through, we might end up creating more harm. I also realized that small wins are huge wins, because they are all contributing something to the bigger picture. And even losses have gains to them, because they are learning experiences, and they are opportunities for community organizers to do things better next time… Community organizing entails constant conversation, feedback, and adaptation/revision. There are also limitations, including lack of resources and an abundance of systemic barriers. I learned to open myself to the joy of even the small steps forward and to gain something from the losses. But the most important lesson I learned is that without including and centering directly impacted folks in the planning, in the conversations, in the steps forward and the steps backward, we lose valuable assets to our objectives.


I learned that MANY organizations are working 24/7 to radically change the way we think about immigration. I learned how to become an advocate through a legal lens. I learned that representation in the immigration system is extremely challenging, and there aren’t many successful outcomes. I also learned that the immigration system is a confusing and disoriented power structure that harms immigrants; witnessing the human rights violations first-hand also made me understand the atrocities of the immigration system. There can’t be a reformist approach, only an abolitionist approach, which treats immigrants as humans and not as animals… I have become an informed citizen about the atrocities being committed by the United States Government at the Mexican-American border, and I have developed the knowledge necessary to have discussions about abolition work to deconstruct the current unjust immigration system


My position as a Hispanic woman proved to be the most vital part of my identity which I was able to utilize with the work JWJ was doing. Many people we were working with were Hispanic individuals who were either most comfortable speaking Spanish or could only speak Spanish. It wasn’t until the second field visit when I found myself connecting with a group of female construction workers about our families that I truly realized how important it was for me to share my story and use that as a way to connect with people. There were two ladies I spoke to that day who had been working in construction for 18 and 23 years. During our conversation, they spoke about how hard the work was and how, deep down, they wished they could have an easier office job. Due to their responsibility to provide for their family, they had to stay in the trades to keep making enough money. One shared with us how she was working to get her daughter (about my age) through college so she could be the first one in their family to graduate. I saw my parents in them and offered words of support, through the lens of a daughter whose parents are doing the same as them. It was an emotional conversation where we felt a connection despite only speaking for 20 minutes. We were able to get their contact information and connect them with the EPIC program. “Looking” Hispanic and speaking Spanish offered a bit of a cushion to speak to people. It allowed those we approached to feel more comfortable opening up, as people tended to be more reserved when they spoke to the more white-presenting individuals doing the same work.

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