If You’re Not White, You’re Not Safe: The Importance of Building POC & Immigrant Solidarity

Image Description: Forearm of black man with a tattoo of the world reaching across a white wall

The current immigration debate over Dreamers, African and Caribbean emigrants, and undocumented persons is basically the eye of a white supremacy shit storm that uses nativism, xenophobia, and racism to isolate, otherize, dehumanize, and scapegoat vulnerable Black and Brown people. This clusterfuck of interactions distorts reality, distracts and misdirects attention all for the benefit of white supremacy. Trump’s ascendance as the authoritarian we always expected has been so relentless and panic-inducing that it feels like we’re just treading water between tsunamis of terror. More waves of bad news keep coming, and it’s in this chaotic and aggrieved state that we are the most susceptible to pointing fingers in directions that only serve 45’s agenda.

This nativist trap is one of the oldest white supremacist tricks in the book. Stop falling for it. If you are not white, you are not safe. Period.

Now, more than ever, we need to urgently band together and build people of color and immigrant solidarity amongst ourselves to ride this storm.

To do so, we must first rid ourselves of these deeply embedded shit equations that splinter solidarity:

Latinx = Mexican

Mexican = Immigrant (especially Brown immigrant)

Brown Immigrant = Undocumented

Undocumented = Illegal

Illegal = Criminal

Criminal = Evil

Evil = Unworthy… and so on.

Some people might say, “I’m a Black or Brown person, but I’m not an immigrant so I’m fine” or “I’m an immigrant, but I’m not Mexican. They are definitely not referring to me,” or “Oh, I’m an immigrant but I’m not undocumented, so I’m safe,” or “But I’m one of the ‘good ones’ so obviously this is not referring to me.” Using such reductive narratives and statements provides people with different ways to try to exceptionalize themselves and turn their backs on a fictionalized immigrant population that is based on stereotypes and myths.

The thing about racist myths is that they aren’t true about ANYONE, and instead, stifle much-needed connections among people of color while shifting blame. That’s how you end up with immigrants who supported Trump, were later deported, and then acted surprised because they supposedly weren’t one of the “bad hombres.” Or, you have resounding silence from other POC communities because they see themselves as disconnected from immigration issues. They buy into the nativist bullshit or the bootstrap myth and feed into intergroup animosity when the truth is, no amount of respectability will save them.

There is a long track record of immigrants and people of color banding together to achieve common goals. However, we also have a history of being pitted against one another, finger-pointing at other groups to deflect hatred away from us. The recent DACA decision from 45 has highlighted some of these fissures between immigrants and communities of color that we need to mend.

INTERGROUP ANIMOSITY

Pitting minority groups against each other has been a historical theme of white politics, from the anti-Blackness inherent in the model minority myth to the lack of unity among people of color which ultimately serves white supremacy. Trump capitalized on this by overtly declaring that Dreamer immigrants were stealing jobs from Black and Latinx communities. The Justice Department’s new war on affirmative action hijacked Asian communities’ concerns and became an assault on Black and Latinx student enrollment in college. Brown and Black folks who joined Trump in his grotesque vision of divide and conquer fell for the same trick that’s been used for decades in politics, industry, and every other sector that depends on the subjugation and exploitation of people of color.

It’s old.

And it works.

White people have offered honorary whiteness to non-Black people of color before, only to take it away as soon as the white supremacist system extracts what it needs. We’ve been socialized to believe that siding up to whiteness will keep us safe or exempt from the racism we think only happens to other people. But no amount of respectability or achievement will save us when we’re trying to climb a ladder built by white supremacy. It has and never will be for us to climb.

TARGETING IMMIGRANTS AND DEHUMANIZATION TOOLS

It’s no secret that immigrants have felt this administration’s big red target on their backs grow even larger with Trump in office. Or that the target was a huge draw for his supporters. In fact, one of his first campaign statements was about Mexican “rapists,” and this was just the beginning of 45 unleashing America’s social demons into society. He followed up with attacks on all Black people, Black Lives Matter, Muslims, women… the list keeps going on. No marginalized and oppressed group in America is safe from Trump’s violence or white supremacy.

The Jim Crow system in the southern U.S. was a dehumanization model for Hitler, and this administration keeps using immigrants to test the boundaries of how shittily they can treat other people. From destroying families through deportations to randomly detaining people in detention centers with deplorable conditions that include neglect, medical crises, abuse, and torture, immigrant populations are being intensely dehumanized.

IF YOU’RE NOT WHITE, YOU’RE NOT SAFE

This administration has illustrated over and over again that unless you are a cis, straight, white, Christian, able-bodied male — you are not valued. An entire island of Black and Brown people fighting for survival after a devastating hurricane was still called “lazy” by this President. Without water or power and clinging to life, Trump and his supporters boldly proclaimed that Puerto Rico was “undeserving.” This is white supremacy, folks. There is absolutely nothing you can achieve, or natural disaster you can weather, to convince white supremacy that you deserve to live. And we see this logic play out even further with the recent TPS decision affecting Haitian emigrants.

White supremacy doesn’t have to care about anyone other than itself, so don’t play into nativist, xenophobic bullshit. Pay attention to the ones pulling the strings rather than blaming some fictionalized “immigrant.” White supremacy gains absolutely nothing by allowing you into the fold, but achieves everything by dividing us. And the minute you say to yourself, “I’m safe because I’m not one of them,” ask yourself:

Am I White? Wealthy? Cis? Straight? Christian? Male? Able-bodied?

If you answer no to any of these questions, you are “one of them.”

They are working to come at you with the same tools they are sharpening on vulnerable immigrant populations right now. White Supremacy is coming for all of us and its favorite tool is to divide and conquer its collective targets.

This is first in a series of pieces focusing on people of color solidarity at the intersections of oppression, race, and immigration. Future themes will explore a variety of topics such as anti-blackness, nativism, and privilege within people of color communities. You can financially support our work at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/solidaritywoc