In the midst of a global pandemic, millions of Americans are waking up to the fact that walls will not keep us safe and jails will not keep us healthy. LUPE executive director Juanita Valdez-Cox shares a message with LUPE supporters on the need to embrace our interconnectedness as we change our approach to social change during the pandemic and beyond.
We are all in this together. There has never been a moment in my lifetime when that truth has been more evident. Whether staying home or on the front lines, we all have a role to play in protecting one another’s health.
But for a long time, this country has acted like we can separate ourselves from our problems. Move to a better neighborhood, get a better job, build a fancier gate or a taller wall.
That approach is what got us here—1 in 3 Valley residents uninsured, families one paycheck away from homelessness, undocumented workers shut out of social safety nets, county jails overcrowded, and immigration jails and prisons scattered across the region.
That’s the kind of thinking that fueled Donald Trump’s rise to power. The idea that deportations will keep us safe and walls will make us great.
But a global pandemic has quickly shattered that false sense of security.
Millions of Americans are waking up to the fact that walls will not keep us safe and jails will not keep us healthy. Our health literally depends on the health of the person next to us, and the person next to them. From the Rio Grande Valley to New York to China, we are fundamentally interconnected.
As many of us question what the future holds, it is increasingly evident that things can’t go back to how they were. If we don’t want to be in the same position when the next novel virus comes around, our approach to problem-solving has to change. That means treating each other not as threats but as partners in building the world we want and need. Our fates are bound up together.
I’ll be honest, as we go forward we don’t know what collective action for change will look like. How do 8,000 LUPE members take action together when we can’t come together in neighborhood meetings, marches, and rallies? How do we provide needed services to our members when we can’t receive clients at our offices? How do we bring streetlights to our neighborhoods when we can’t gather petition signatures at our neighbors’ doorstep?
But we are learning and growing and trying new things. Last week, we had daily health talks via Facebook Live. We used megaphones in colonias to announce the ongoing Census self-response period. Yesterday, we had fun playing Census-themed bingo via Zoom video to teach people about the importance of the Census. And we will soon have the ability to send text message updates to our 8,000 members.
While you’re social distancing, keep up with LUPE on the web:
We will figure it out. We have to. Because there’s no going back to the injustices of the past. Our founder, Cesar Chavez, said, “Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.”
While you’re social distancing, stay close to LUPE and our members through our social media and website. We’ll be posting updates like this one on how we are responding to the crisis and keeping our community safe. And we’ll be sharing ways we can take action together even from a distance.
Apart but very much united en la lucha,
Juanita Valdez-Cox and the LUPE team