Aqui Seguimos Migration is Life by Santiago Mazatl for CultureStrike.

Migration is Life

“Migration is life,” I was reminded by Mexican artist Santiago Mazatl via his print for CultureStrike.

Aqui Seguimos Migration is Life by Santiago Mazatl for CultureStrike.
Migration is Life by Santiago Mazatl for CultureStrike.

An obvious truth, yet one that might escape our consciousness as we continue to live within the colonial imagination. Even having written a piece which discusses it, I too had drifted from this knowing. I was shaken back into a deeper understanding when I saw Mazatl’s art. Movement is natural and inevitable and beautiful and necessary.

At this moment I am overwhelmed by emotion.

Hearts are breaking.

My friends and neighbors are in fear.

On Saturday morning, ICE agents arrived in our area and began making arrests. There were over a dozen confirmed at the moment of this writing. Last I checked, the agents were still in action. This is unconscionable. Migration is natural. A police state is not.

Hundreds gathered in front of the Federal Building on Saturday afternoon to protest. Convened by Compañeros Inmigrantes de las Montañas en Acción (CIMA), it was a powerful moment which brought together people from many different parts of the city. It was heartening to see how all kinds of folks care about our neighbors.

As the Asheville Citizen-Times reported: “These are unjust moves from a rogue agency,” said CIMA coordinator Bruno Hinojosa, describing what he referred to as ICE attacks on the Latino community of Buncombe and Henderson counties. “ICE has been given the power to do anything, and they’re terrorizing our community.”

Emotional impact of immigration enforcement.
Helen, whose husband, Carlos, was arrested by ICE Saturday with Balentin, a friend who was present during his arrest. (Sam DeGrave, Asheville Citizen-Times)

We cried with Helen, whose husband Carlos arrested by ICE on his way to work, as she bravely shared the devastation she is dealing with.

Sheneika Smith also spoke. She connected the trauma of the ICE raids with the trauma of the police violence and harassment experienced by blacks. In both communities, she reminded us, there are children dealing with the stress of witnessing what is happening. She admonished us to donate “sacrificially” in support of the families impacted by the ICE raids. We fight for them today, she said, as they will fight for us tomorrow.

“ICE is out again today in Asheville and Emma,” Ashley Cooper posted on Sunday. “Unmarked SUV cars. If you feel like you want to DO something, please be present with that feeling. It is your body letting you know that you do have a role to play in creating a world where people can freely come and go from their home without fear that their families will be torn apart, their loved ones kidnapped by authoritarian federal employees. In this moment, you can donate to CIMA- Compañeros Inmigrantes de las Montañas en Accion who is supporting families of people who are detained and doing all they can to keep people safe.”

CLICK HERE TO DONATE TO CIMA. You can also send a check to 610 Haywood Road, Asheville, 28806.

Love, community action, art.
Hope abounds. Here’s my friend Trinity and her “Love Your Community” piece created at a family art event in the Southside neighborhood/River Arts District on Saturday. (Photo by Shuvonda Harper.)

And, again, imagination.

Catalyzed by the juxtaposition of being nourished at WordFest, then learning that the U.S. began bombing Syria during the night, Mary Ellen Lough wrote some profound words I will excerpt here:

“Make no mistake: even when we turn away, you can’t fool the soul into thinking this doesn’t exist. Our soul is the part of us that belongs to everything, and so rather, we enter what David Graeber calls ‘Dead zones of the imagination.’ We kill off the parts of us that can imagine, rather than use our lives and the most resilient and compelling parts of our humanity to resist. Imagination is resistance. Not imagination as fantasy. But the part of us that rises from the ground of being from which all things are made and born…

This is our one life. It is also theirs. Lean harder into it. Rescue your imagination from the dead zone. Put it towards everything holy and good.”

Be assured, I will write again and again about imagination. It is a key tool for transformation.

Kulture ShXck a LatinX

Dancing is another tool for transformation! If you want to bust your moves for the revolution, head over to Kulture ShXck a LatinX | Queer Night tonight (Monday, April 16). They’ll be collecting donations at the door for the people who were detained by ICE this weekend. ¡Bailamos!

Closing Notes

My original plan for this post was to write a response to the overwhelming reaction to my last missive, “Beer is a Bummer.” That will have to wait until another day, today’s topic took priority. I don’t think the beer conversation is going anywhere soon.

The experience of having that post blow up made me realize that as I write each week, I approach it as an ongoing conversation with kind readers who have a heart for justice and at least a basic understanding of systemic oppression. In some ways, each post is just a piece of a longer narrative directed a collective liberation. Much gratitude to those of you who are on this journey with me, whether long time subscribers or brand new.

As we continue to work to strengthen community in the real world, here’s a reminder that I do my best to offer connective opportunities on my events calendar.


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2 thoughts on “Migration is Life

  1. Ami,
    I am hooked on your ongoing conversation. These topics keep coming up for me like steel wire to my brain, even as I try to focus on the beauty and positive things that also happen around me. I am working for Mountainfilm and Migration is the theme of our Symposium this year.
    (shameless promotion:

    Have you heard of Dr. Gabor Mate? His special interest is in childhood development and trauma, and in the potential lifelong impacts on their physical and mental health, including autoimmune disease, cancer, ADHD, addictions. He’s got some good podcasts out there you might be interested, or outraged, to hear; he links asthma in black females to their exposure to racism, for example.

    Love you!! And looking forward to the next installment!

    Liked by 2 people

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