From Ruby Sales and Rev. Jacqui Lewis, who, today, begin the Caravans to the Borders Movement by facilitating a Mourn-In and a Day of Fasting at the Cayuga Center in New York City to shed light on the inhumane conditions, deprivation and homelessness that asylum seekers and refugees endure in 21st century sites of terror called detention centers, in addition to shedding light on the sexual crimes against Brown and Black girls by guards and others in the immigration industrial complex:
We fast to begin Caravans to the Borderlands where we navigate the terrain necessary to redeem the soul of America from its historical sins: the dehumanization, commodification, captivity, fragmentation, criminalization, state sanctioned rape, psychological terrorism, spiritual injury and economic exploitation of Black and Brown bodies. These assaults bind us together because they invade all of our lives despite our social location. Therefore, this is the common ground that will shape and universalize our movement.
We will not only mourn and fast, we will celebrate and resurrect the cultural resources that generations of all colors have developed and used in freedom struggles. We will unveil a list of demands to the government, and we will not rest until they are met.
Sales and Lewis continue:
Frederick Douglass, an escapee from enslavement and an abolitionist, asked this poignant and unsettling question before a White audience who was celebrating Independence Day, “What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?” He asked this question amid the sorrow, dehumanization, and captivity of millions of African Americans whom White Americans reduced to property, sold on auction blocks, tore apart their families, and tortured them in sites of militarized terror called plantations. So insidious and barbaric was the hard heartedness of White enslavers that Frederick Douglass fell into a fit of despair. Sojourner Truth jogged him back to hopefulness with the question,
Fred, is God Dead?
These questions are as relevant today in an immigration industrial complex that continues these barbaric practices as they were 166 years ago. Sometimes the assaults are so fast and systematically devastating that many of us fall into a fit of despair as did Frederick Douglass. But the Sojourners among us remind us that God is a living God who always has rams and remnants in the bushes that attest to the fact that there is hope in history and that ‘no lie lives forever’ because ‘the moral arc of the universe bends towards justice’ and ‘truth crushed to the ground shall rise again.’
We live in a spiritually malformed and socially perverse reign of terror where Donald Trump and his couriers engineer and carry out a White supremacist culture war designed to destroy the place, presence and future of people of color in America. It is a culture war driven by travel bans against Muslims and a reign of terror and captivity against immigrant adults and children of color. To these ruthless culture warriors, we are neither citizens, human beings nor refugees. Rather, we are animals, commodities, and enemy combatants who must be used or destroyed in systems such as the prison and immigration industrial complexes.
The imperative is clear. The call is urgent. Come and go with us to the Borderlands where we are bound, where we are bound. See you on July 4th at the Mourn-In and Day of Fasting which is the first leg of a long journey and movement toward freedom.
As we prepare for the journey, let us mediate on these words from Frederick Douglass that contextualize our struggle today and still resonate in this season of the immigration industrial complex and the Supreme Court’s assault on all of our lives and bodies because they represent the same assaults against Black people during enslavement in the South.
“What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? “
“I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.”
Friends … Let us mourn together, let us fast together, let us celebrate together our power to change the world. Let us declare a day of independence in this reign of tyranny on this 4th of July from unholy and empty gestures, and join in a true praxis of liberty and justice for all.