*In the wake of the Trump-era and most recently, the events going on in Charlottesville, Virginia I felt this article may be helpful for all those seeking to become accomplices in fight for justice. This article focuses on the Latin American community but it is important to note that standing in solidarity with the all marginalized/targeted communities is essential to attaining a more just society.*
As I write this article, I receive a message from a friend in Central America fighting the presence of a Canadian mining company that threatens to contaminate his community’s traditional territory. He has already been shot in the face multiple times for standing on the front lines, yet there he is again putting his life on the line to protect the livelihood of his people. He gives me an update on his community’s resistance efforts. Recently, the company’s security forces captured some community members in the early morning. No deaths this time, thankfully, but the struggle would continue regardless just as it always has.
The truth is that Latin America in all its complexity and diversity knows “la lucha” (the struggle) all too well. As one of our notable poets, José Martí, stated the “happiness that we’ve invented” has been in spite of la lucha. From US military, economic and political intervention (even today) to the imposition of Western neoliberal policies, Latin America has been the centre of these experiments which have created and perpetuated violence and poverty throughout the region.
Now, with Trump. La lucha continues. This time in the name of so-called White nationalism. White nationalism in the United States like in Canada is a contradiction since White settlers do not trace their national identity to the continent of the Americas at all. Latino immigrants like other racialized minorities are demonized and labelled illegal. But how can we be illegal when most Latinos can trace their ancestry to the Original Peoples of the continent while White settlers do not?
The solution is just as Jimmy Fallon, the host of The Tonight Show said, “It’s important for everyone, especially White people in this country to speak out against this. Ignoring it is just as bad as supporting it”. He was speaking about the United States but the truth is that Canadian and United States’ societies are not all that different. In Canada, we’re just more polite about it.
For all of those allies, especially White allies, that seek to stand alongside our Latin American community, as well as other racialized and marginalized communities, your role must move beyond appropriating our language, our food and our dances. To become a true “ally” you have to start taking action.
Taking a tip from @Travon: If my people are being targeted for embodying that same culture that you appreciate then it is your responsibility to take action against your White brothers and sisters who are oppressing us. Whether it is a White nationalist or a White man acting as a Chief Executive Officer of a Canadian mining corporation that is killing communities in Latin America…
IZZA’S ALLY TIPS: Questions to ask yourself
Have I appropriated from Latin American cultures? (Learned Spanish? Latin dances? etc.)
Have I taken the time to learn the issues facing the Latin American community?
Have I participated in or organized an event to support the Latin American community?
Written by: Yurissa Alexandra. You can read more of her work here