We came to Arizona from the copper mines in Cananea. Recruiters came to Mexico trying to find people who would come work. We came in wagons, there was nothing here..nothing! They dropped people off from place to place. Our job was to clear the desert. And look at it now! – Antonia Franco
— wait! quick note… :)
I’m back in Arizona once again, we await the Supreme Court decision on the case between the state of Arizona and the federal government. I’m reposting two articles I wrote a few years ago in the days after the passage of Senate Bill 1070 in Arizona. I was back home, in a moment of upheaval, outrage and determination to respond. -m
I remember a childhood of listening to the stories of my elders, sitting at a kitchen table with thick mugs filled with more milk than coffee. There was my Nana Tonia, who came in the early 1920’s with her family from Sonora, México. My Tata Emilio’s eyes would gleam as he spoke, describing the orchard trees along South Mountain and Baseline Road, the ranches, the farms all around. He loved to point out how much things used to cost in the early days, break down what it cost to feed his family and pay the rent and match that to the wages he made as a janitor, a musician and a groundskeeper.
Stories like theirs constitute the backbone of the history of the state of Arizona. Their labor helped build the foundation upon which the 5th largest city of the United States operates upon today. And I wonder, what would they think about what is happening in Arizona now, days after the passage of the nation’s harshest anti-immigrant law?
This, has been a long time coming. And it comes inspired from news long overdue.
Kicking off this blog has had a bumpy ride, living at the end of my to-do list for months on end. And this last week I felt like, well damn, if I don’t got anything to say about all that’s happening, then I may as well cross it off the list for good. So here I am. And here it goes. Because there is so much more to come.
At this point, the news is out there. Last Friday, President Obama made an announcement that DHS will grant deferred action to eligible young people for two years along with potential work authorization.
Reaction has been whirling from all sides. I’ve been listening for the analysis and next steps from folks who brought this victory forward. It seems fair to say the collective hope is for this development to provide at least temporary relief. How much celebration and how much caution is a subject of debate, but it also seems like most also agree that there is much work to do. At this moment, I think the most important thing allies can do is help spread the word of what this means (correct info, por favor!) to ensure the maximum amount of people who can benefit do. Second, its important to promote the youth/student organizations that organized and worked to make this happen. Victories should strengthen movement. And if the leading organizations don’t come out of this stronger, we’ve missed something. And lastly, we must be alert to ensure implementation. The devils in the details, folks. Sometimes, implementation of a victory is just as hard as winning the concession in the first place.
10 years in, and a whole lotta anxious. That was the scenario when I contemplated my future out loud with a longtime compañera, in a bar, of course. There came a point in the conversation where she leaned in as I spun myself in circles of questions, and looking real serious posed the question: So. What do you want to be in the movement, an architect or a carpenter?
My tendency at a crossroads such as this is to see where I came from. And when I look back on my path, I suppose it’s been a combination of circumstance, chance and choice. It’s woven into my story. Two weeks after September 11, 2001 I left my home in Guadalupe, AZ to be trained in community organizing. After years of what I would call ‘buffet activism’ as a student and general revoltosa I traveled to the San Francisco Bay Area hungry for more.
Six weeks turned into six years in the Bay Area. I learned about neoliberalism in food lines and homeless shelters, witnessed the cost of trade agreements like NAFTA from domestic workers who were separated from their children to be able to provide for them. And, I was introduced to a network, formal and informal of people trying to build a movement to change things up.
I had the privilege to work with people directly affected by the local and global, to study classic and modern theory and talk shop with like-minded folks about how the pieces connected, across racial lines, sector and place.
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About the Author
Marisa currently works as Campaign Coordinator for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. She joined NDLON’s staff during the upsurge of movement in reaction to human rights crisis in her native state of Arizona. She continues to support the emerging human rights movement in Arizona, along with local campaigns to end criminalization across the country. Marisa comes out of multi-racial organizing across community and labor issues. Previously she has worked for POWER, Domestic Workers United, Right to the City Alliance and helped form the National Domestic Workers Alliance. She is a from Guadalupe, Arizona and studied at Arizona State University. Read more of Marisa's writing on at http://lafranx.wordpress.com/ and follow her on twitter at @marisa_franco.
Recent Marisa Franco Posts
- 4 Years Later – Why the DNC Written on Saturday, 01 September 2012 00:00
- Priscila get some Love from Labor Written on Friday, 31 August 2012 00:00
- Las Mariposas ~ The Butterflies | Marisa Written on Thursday, 30 August 2012 17:53
- No Papers No Fear Dispatch: Farewells and Full Moons | Marisa Written on Friday, 03 August 2012 00:00
- Flip Flops and Mixed Decisions Written on Monday, 09 July 2012 00:00