The Organizer Blog
A Day without Latinos and Immigrants:
At least 30,000 people were at attendance. That cold Wisconsin winter was filled with energy, optimism, culture and brotherhood. Local Mexican restaurants were handing out food and drinks, I also had the opportunity to observe and record a wonderful group of young kids performing an Aztec traditional dance.
On February 18th, 2016 many organizations gathered in Madison our state capitol to protest anti-immigrant bills. Bill ab450 on the assembly had passed and was headed to the senate as bill sb369. The other bill sb533 had passed both assembly and the senate and into the governor’s desk for signature.
Because of the controversy of this legislation and the fear it created among the immigrant community, it created an opportunity to find out what exactly the Immigrant community has to offer this wonderful state of Wisconsin.
On that day the majority of Latino Immigrants had the spot light on them. The media coverage was vast and many employers and consumers really missed our brothers and sisters at their place of employment. Restaurants were short staffed, some factories closed out their production lines completely and dairy farms were operating on a skeleton staff just to name a few. It was certainly an eye opening experience to many Wisconsin employers.
The immigrant community is a vital part of our economy. The dairy industry is extremely dependent on the immigrant workforce. It is estimated that 80% of the workforce is immigrant labor and a 40.3 Billion dollars per year industry.
By creating legislation that makes Wisconsin a hostile environment to our immigrant community we are at jeopardy of losing this wonderful workforce we have come to take for granted. Prime examples of legislation that created the immigrant community to flee happened in Arizona, Georgia and Alabama. These states have suffered tremendous economic hardships.
On March 15th 2016 the senate had the last session for the year. The big test for the immigrant community of Wisconsin was about to take place. Would bill ab450/sb369 be introduced for a vote? Will it pass? Will all the hard work and the incredible display of solidarity be in vain? The answer to all is NO. The bill was not introduced and therefore it died in the senate. This was a huge victory to the immigrant community. Many will be able to have a good night sleep, cancel the possibility of moving to more “friendly” state and continue with life’s goals and dreams.
On January 21 and 22nd WISDOM had its annual retreat at the Pilgrim Center in Green Lake, WI.
For many of us it was the first time and for others it was, let us say, a few more times than one...The retreat enabled many WISDOM affiliates to be able to interact with each other and push our Local, state and national agenda forward. The cold did not deter us from enjoying the scenery but we were there for business purposes and we did get down to business. The opening by a WISDOM veteran and now our new president was phenomenal. Rev Brisco got us to a great start by giving us that sense of urgency that is needed in this line of work. "I have more years behind me then ahead of me" he said, letting us know that he is not about to waste valuable life and I agree! Lets take care of business.
The Friday evening ended nicely with some great conversation and the sharing of anecdotes. On Saturday we continued our day and discussed Gamaliel Tranformational narrative, role of race in our organizations, sacred conversations (exercise) and discussed individually issues our task forces are working on. With renewed energy and commitments in place, we packed our bags and came back ready to work!
Race and Power Summit in Detroit:
This was a great experience. The workshops were very informative and was able to bring home lots of new substance for our leaders. Structural Racism was a topic that was highly discussed. We tend to think of racism as direct and in your face but the truth is now a days it is not so much so. We all have to look at ourselves and consciously need to try to eliminate some of that bias that has been engraved in us via all the communication methods.
Public Narratives: Certain kinds of stories that have the power to shape peoples conscious perceptions, understandings, analysis and sense of what needs to be done and what is possible.
As individuals and organizations we need to
- unmask the dominant narratives
-Contrast the narratives, offer a choice
-uncover and elevate new narratives
Transforming Narratives is not about winning an argument. It is engaging people to illuminate values and assumptions that are already in them.
Abraham Lincoln said: "Public Sentiment is everything. With Public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed. Consequently he who molds public sentiment, goes deeper thant he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions. He makes statutes and decisions possible or impossible to be executed.