Speaking Truth to Power – BAJI Arizona focusses on education and movement building

Blog post by Tia Oso, BAJI Arizona Organizer

BAJI Phoenix has focused this fall on educating a wide variety of populations on the importance of solidarity in the  journey for migrant justice and cross-racial alliance building for successful progressive movements. Arizona Organizer, Tia Oso, was featured as a panelist in the Arizona State University’s Healing Racism Community Dialogue Race and the Border: At the Intersection of Fear, Immigration and Justice on October 9, 2012. Tia took the opportunity to elevate the conversation beyond personal attitudes about race, to systemic effects of racism, including the use of racial profiling in laws like SB1070 and the effective shutout of Black men from the U.S. workforce due to felonies in their backgrounds. White Supremacy, global capitalism and systemic exploitation must enter the discourse to have an accurate picture of the forces behind anti-immigrant laws, policies and attitudes. The experience of African-Americans in the U.S. is extremely pertinent and interconnected with that of immigrants of color, especially when it comes to jobs and the criminal justice system. Recognizing this fact, BAJI continues to lift this perspective in critical conversations, such as the ACLU Immigrant Rights Project conference, which took place October 10th, 2012 in Oakland, CA. Too often overlooked in migrant justice advocacy is the story of Black immigrants, as well as the importance of engaging African-Americans in progressive movement building.

As a participant in the U.S. Human Rights Network Southwest Regional Conference and Human Rights training, discussion focused on using the United Nations Convention to Eliminate all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) to bring international attention to the critical condition of people of color in the United States. Attended by several grassroots organizations and individual activists, it was sobering to hear the stories of how systemic racism continues to devastate people’s lives in a myriad of ways.  Even those who seek refuge and asylum in the United States are faced with challenges brought by xenophobia and discrimination. Arizona receives a number of refugees through the United States Refugee resettlement program. At the Faith Based Summit on refugee resettlement on November 1, 2012, faith based institutions representing many belief systems, non-profit agencies, government agencies and advocates came together to discuss the unique challenges and the charge of providing shelter, safety and tools for navigating life in the U.S. to immigrants forced from their home countries. BAJI’s perspective on identifying and naming the unique challenges faced by Black immigrants was valued and necessary.

Increasingly, with the shifting demographics and the clearly multi-racial and increasingly progressive leadership shown possible in the recent National election, it is more important than ever that we use critical analysis and a multi-level approach to answering the challenges to economic and social justice. Educating the community is a key-part of the process and BAJI Arizona will work with the Greater Phoenix Urban League to offer a series of political education forums beginning in December 2012. The series is aimed at providing in-depth perspective and encouraging dialogue around issues affecting communities of color. Through these and other initiatives, BAJI Arizona is dedicated to being a voice for truth and real change.