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Worth the Risk: Community Care and Direct Action


One of the first organizations that politicized me went to bat yesterday and I was moved to write something because they continue to mold me. Southerners on New Ground is a home for LGBTQ liberation across all lines of race, class, abilities, age, culture, gender, and sexuality in the South. SONG released today that 267,000 Queer and Trans People of the 1 million out Queer and Trans people are living in fear because of what their undocumented status means to ICE; they are living in fear of the deportation machine just like 11 million other undocumented people.

Yesterday The Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR), Southerners on New Ground (SONG), members of Comités Populares from across the state, Project South, other supporters partnered in a #not1more action in Atlanta. More than a dozen undocumented Georgians and supporters locked themselves to the gates of the downtown Atlanta ICE office as part of the national campaign demanding the President stop deportations and expand deferred action for all.

To me this brave action (and the ones that came before in Washington, DC and Nationally, Arizona, San Francisco, and later in Chicago) is a direct example of healing in action- whether it is called community care, healing justice or transformative organizing, it is working to change things inside and out.

This series of actions uses the practice of interdependence, which is one of the core values listed in the Health and Healing Justice (H&HJ) Vision and Values document. This Values document was assembled through the US Social Forum 2010 H&HJ work and states "We understand that the ways we live with and treat each other has direct impact on our wellness and collective well being towards liberation, healing and transforming our conditions."

Interdependence is when Queer and Trans folks (documented and undocumented), Immigrants (LGBTQGNC and Straight) all come together and literally link arms and say yes to each other and no to ICE. Sometimes we care for each other by taking risks. Taking risks of putting our bodies on the line to reflect that others are constantly living on that line. Taking risks to transform our conditions. One of the action leaders Jose Luis Romero stated, "Everyday immigrants face the risk of deportation just by taking our children to school. Today is no different. It's just that now we take that risk as we defend the rights of our entire community."

The deportation machine is a monolith that seems like an inevitable reality for many undocumented people. This fear of deportation causes distress and suffering that can take over the mind, body and spirit. The real consequences of deportation are many and include health and well-being impacts such as children of undocumented parents feeling more anxious, sad and fearful than their peers. This cycle of attacks on our communities is causing pain that goes deep into our families and deep into our brains and bodies. Instead of playing and doing homework, children are having to demand: don't deport my parents, keep our family together.

What yesterday's action reminded me is that interdependent communities doing direct actions are an antidote to the poison of fear and harm caused by the deportation machine. These action can not only break the machine but lead us away from terror, and towards well being. The action signs read: We're meant for more than fear, violence and cages, and I would like to add- we are meant for love, healing and liberation. Yesterday's action reminded me that community care sometimes looks like arms linked and ready to take risks because Queers, Immigrants, All of Us- our lives are worth it.

Yashna Maya Padamsee

Yashna wrote this essay after first taking care of herself by going to a yoga class where she learned first comes opening, then comes strength. Yashna is a first generation south asian immigrant queer femme healer-warrior yoga teacher who was raised in part by the US South. She works with love and care for the National Domestic Workers Alliance as an Administrative Coordinator.

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