Even in evidence-based practices, there is a wave of discrimination and cultural bias regarding policy-driven strategies and interventions with culturally diverse families. Does that mean we are to abandon the practices, though they are grounded in strong evidence or do we address the biases held by practitioners or the strategists? Because we wish to curtail or limit the numbers of individuals who enter these United States, legal or otherwise, does that mean that they cease to be considered humans? Is is just or just practical to place them all in one single box, as though they cease to be individuals with complex concerns and needs?
Doing the latter is helpful for sure, but there must also be an examination of the practices, as well, no? There could also be components within the theoretical framework or the strategies of intervention which may lean themselves toward bias pertaining to the target population. What works for some groups or individuals may prove counter-intuitive for others. But then again…
In situations such as the detaining of families at the U.S. southern borders, when assessing these persons, chances are great that practitioners and other professionals are getting it wrong. The worst part about it is that no one was forward thinking in the policy design to outline a clear strategy in order that rules could be upheld. Families would experience much less traumatic stress and there would be much less logistical confusion. In this case, the right hand knows not what the left hand is doing regarding the families and their children.
What would you suggest to officials in order to offer a better planned solution to this terribly irrational American fear? In all practices, no matter the objective, interventions should be humanistic at its core. This is not war and these people aren’t our enemies. Certainly, the children are innocent victims of circumstance in this, but do they deserve what we have seen and know actually happens to them? Does America really know where children go after being separated from their parents at the border? Do we care?
For some, it is much easier to turn a blind eye, be cold and unfeeling when talk centers around migrant children. Is it personal or political? If this issue at our nation’s borders involved a different population, would we seemingly sit back very quietly and comfortably while nothing changes? Interject a group of migrants from Sweden or Italy, or maybe these families and children were English-speaking Caucasians, White Anglo-Saxon Protestants….. where would America be? What would we do? Something, anything, or nothing at all?
A white family whose child or infant was kidnapped and housed in cages, while the parents were kept in the dark about where their child was! Not knowing where or when they could see their nursing baby again. Imagine being led to believe that you and your child will be reunited if you chose to sign a document stating that you agree to return to your native country. Imagine still that you actually get deported, but your child is still somewhere else in that country parts unknown.
The last statement is true. Though the ‘official’ numbers say fewer, there remains at least 3000 children who are still being placed and displaced in locations far away from their parents, who are still in detention while some have been deported. By the way, ‘detention’ is just a polite more palatable way to say ‘jailed’. All because they wanted the promises of freedom, safety and a fresh start that this country advertises it offers. Escaping life-threatening situations and circumstances, packing up all that you can, along with your child or children. Usually no money, minimal if any grasp of the English language, and then treated like a ‘criminal’ before you can speak or understand the word.
Imagine that this described you or I. Wouldn’t we be marching to City Hall, writing our Congressmen, Senators, flooding the President’s mailbox with strong letters of disapproval? Why aren’t we ‘blowing up’ the President’s Twitter feed? Or vowing to not vote his way ever, until….? Wouldn’t we be worried about our own families and children, feeling the discomfort that you could be next?
Does this keep us awake at night in a state of suspense and fear of witnessing more ‘zero tolerance’ policies and interventions? One might say that I am going too far…. but am I? How can we be certain that there won’t be any additional fears, xenophobia, that will come too close to home? If it is fear of Brown people, then this ethnic insecurity and fragility will come and visit us soon.
Very few of us have no family member who happens to be in love with a person of a different race. We are and have been, historically, a blended nation, even if you don’t know it. There are some black people who are in your family, neighborhood, and definitely in your ancestry. When was the last time that we traced our ancestry?
What we can do, except feel badly and shake our heads, is to do something, anything at all! Raise your voices, be heard, tell ’em how you feel! Go to your neighborhood social services agency and ask for something to do to help-volunteer your time. Support the family, support the children-no matter the race or ethnicity. Volunteer at your local school in the after-school center, community center. Start your own community support group for parents, families and children. Go around your neighborhood and collect signatures in support of your disapproval of the way families are treated and regarded. Stage a sit-in or a sit down somewhere, like folks did at a now famous Woolworth counter some years ago or like college students did at Kent State.
Begin a grassroots movement to bring forth the justice and humanity we need to see and children and families need to experience. Our fight is not about the legality or politics in matters; it is about the people who want and deserve the same basic things as you and I—to live a healthy, relatively happy, and safe life with their families beside them in a nation of immigrants. Even the so-called founding fathers were immigrants; the truly American people are the brown people whom our founding fathers also displaced and deemed it justice for all. The worst that we can do in the face of injustice is to remain silent and do nothing! We may be next in a long line of people who no longer serve a purpose for the powers-that-be, unless you happen to be the ones in power.
After the media coverage ceases to provide the American people with updates on this ‘crisis’, are we to believe that the policies or politics have changed? There are times when issues cease being political and become personal-this is one of those times!
Be the change—for the family unit—-for the humanity within us all!