“I felt I was the right person to open the action and shift the focus of the program, especially in the context of the conference theme of “Immigration.” I am a native to Arizona, the child of a Nigerian immigrant father and African-American mother, whose parents were migrant farmworkers, aka “Okies.” I also served for three years as the Arizona organizer (and continue to work as the National Organizer) with the Black Alliance, the premier racial justice, and migrant rights organization in the U.S. As I shared in my remarks on Saturday, racial justice intersects with all progressive issues, especially immigration. Black immigrants experience double oppression, as they must contend with both the reality of racial discrimination in America as well as its complicated and punitive immigration system.
Feeling dissatisfied with Netroots’ framing of black issues and the narrow focus of its immigration-themed activities, I worked with Phoenix-based organizers to create #BlackRoots, a space to focus on black perspectives and connect national organizers with local black community members.
Saturday’s action was powerful. Black organizers claimed our rightful place at the front of the progressive movement. Allies from Latino, Asian, LGBT, and other communities stood in solidarity with us as we called the names of black women killed in police custody, expressed our heartbreaking requests to the community should we ourselves die in police custody and looked on as respected and revered progressive leaders were woefully unable to answer our reasonable question as to how they will lead America to a brighter future.”