I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
-Martin Luther King Jr, Letter from Birmingham Jail
The quote above describes my relationship with the movement for ‘immigration reform.’
But it’s also applicable to subtle things that happen on a daily basis.
I tried to nominate an undocumented youth for a Grant for Change
yesterday. Application rejected because he isn’t a ‘legal citizen.’
We have a position
for which a lot of us are (over)qualified, involving work that we already do without pay, but ineligible to get hired and receive compensation. Same reason as above. I feel ashamed and embarrassed that a coalition working for the rights of undocumented youth cannot find ways to compensate their labor. Where does that leave us?
We have 4 students facing deportation and still waiting on ’emergency funding’ (received June 12) to come through so we can get some software to lead campaigns.
I have emails from an attorney friend advising me not to leave the country and wait till 2011.
People wonder why I am often angry at our ‘allies.’ That’s because we are shackled more by them than anyone else. Nativists, homophobes, racists etc. don’t bother me as much as people who are supposedly on our side and just don’t get it.
I guess following MLK, a ‘more convenient season’ is what we make of it. We don’t need allies; we just need to figure out how to best use them.