End Mass Criminalization of Black and Brown Youth

End Racism and Discrimination

End Homelessness Now

Expand and Protect Social Security

Support Labor, Jobs for All

The People's Budget

Gender-Neutral Treatment - The Equal Rights Amendment

Saturday, 07 May 2016 00:00

Fighting for Racial Justice for Communities of Color

Written by Tefere Gebre and Johanna Hester | The Medium
Tefere Gebre & Johanna Hester visit Ferguson, MO Tefere Gebre & Johanna Hester visit Ferguson, MO

Lately, the public discourse around immigrants in the United States has turned decisively negative. From anti-Muslim sentiments to outlandish accusations about the Latino community, immigrants in this country have felt and continue to feel under attack. As an Ethiopian refugee who immigrated to the United States as a teenager and an immigrant from the Philippines who came to this country at 15 years old, we consider these attacks personal.

We both know all too well what it means to struggle. Like many young immigrants, we worked hard in high school and college to better ourselves. Now, we serve as the first African refugee to serve as the Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO and the National President of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA). The labor movement opened up a path to the middle class by providing us and our families with good- jobs that provided secure benefits and the opportunity to retire with dignity.

Unfortunately over the last few years, we have watched as that path to the middle class eroded as our communities were devastated by mass incarceration, low-paying jobs that lead nowhere and broken immigration policies. The prison population for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders has been increasing steadily, jumping a shocking 30% from 1999 to 2004 alone. The connection between mass incarceration and mass deportations is not lost on us. We understand that the broken prison system is linked to the conditions in detention centers and the overall mass criminalization of communities of color.

The labor movement is a movement of second chances and firmly believes the criminal justice system in the United States needs to offer people another chance to contribute to and be full members of our society. After watching our immigrant families and friends endure so many hardships as they struggled to find work and create a new life for themselves, we both knew we had to help others gain access to stable, well-paying jobs that could sustain themselves and their families.

Together with our allies, the AFL-CIO and APALA supported legislation like Prop 47 in California that reduced sentencing for nonviolent crimes. We are using grassroots organizing in the states to pass ban the box legislation on the local level which would make it illegal for a potential employer to ask about a job applicant’s criminal background. We are fighting back against corporate interests and fighting to organize working people into unions, specifically working people in the South where there is a deep legacy of exploitation of labor from people of color. Only by joining together collectively can working people demand better jobs and wages and create the foundation of a better life.

But our fight doesn’t end there. We need to elect candidates at both the federal and the local level who support policies that support our communities. Policies that bring an end to the over criminalization of people of color and policies that reform the immigration system so families are no longer ripped apart.

Labor is in this fight. Immigrant rights are worker rights. Worker rights are civil rights. This is a fight for all working families, regardless of race, religion, country of birth or any other self or perceived identity. We’re on the ground and we are ready to fight to ensure immigrant working people have access to the American dream.

Tefere Gebre is the Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO. Johanna Hester is the National President of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA).

Link to original article from The Medium

Read 1955 times

Latest Economic and Social Justice News

  • 1

Willie Nelson - Keeping the Postal Service Alive

Email President Obama Stop the Dakota Access Pipeline

Featured News

  • Veterans Arrive at Standing Rock to Act as 'Human Shields' for Water Protectors +

    As tensions grow in North Dakota, with multiple eviction orders facing the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their battle against Read More
  • Michigan Fights To Avoid Delivering Water To Flint Residents +

    The ongoing crisis has left the city without safe drinking water for over two years, but the state claims water Read More
  • The System IS Rigged!—The Electoral College and the 2016 Election +

    Donald Trump was right: the system is rigged! But it is rigged for the Republicans, not the Democrats, for conservatives, Read More
  • BREAKING: Cop Who Shot Keith Scott on Video Will Not Be Charged +

    The Charlotte police officer who killed Keith Lamont Scott will not be charged. In a news conference on Wednesday, R. Andrew Read More
  • Army Corps Says It Won’t Forcibly Evict Standing Rock Water Protectors, But Refuse To Elaborate +

    In a follow-up of its letter to leaders of the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes, the U.S. Read More
  • DAPL Investors Getting Antsy: If Pipeline Doesn’t Move Oil by January First the Contract EXPIRES +

    Though water protectors have held their ground at Standing Rock against the Dakota Access pipeline for months now, they need Read More
  • WV Supreme Court: No Pipeline Surveys for Private Gain +

    West Virginia property owners won an important case at the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals on Tuesday when that Read More
  • Clinton Campaign Joins Jill Stein’s Recount Of Votes In Wisconsin +

    Hillary Clinton’s campaign on Saturday announced they would participate in former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein’s recount of the Read More
  • Sioux Tribe Leader Responds to Army Corps Eviction Letter With Ominous Warning to US Gov’t +

    In response to the altogether shocking announcement the Army Corps of Engineers will be evicting water protectors from the Oceti Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
  • 18
  • 19
  • 20
  • 21
  • 22

Economic and Social Justice Calls

  • 5-4-2016 Economic and Social Justice Call
    The team explores the concept, economic theories and realities of achieving Full Employment in the current economy. Guests include Conor Williams, the secretary of the Transitional Jobs Collaborative in Milwaukee and Michael Darner, Executive Director of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
  • 02-03-2016 Economic & Social Justice
    Listen to this month's call led by Jim Carpenter as we discuss the state of our current economy, the impact of poor economic choices, and the other factors that play into the declining situation around the country, and in the world in this open and guided conversation.
  • 01-06-2016 Economic & Social Justice
    PDAction Board Member Donald Whitehead, and former Ex. Dir. of the Coalition for the Homeless leads the discussion on homelessness, with input from Joel Segal, PDAmerica founding member and National Director of the Justice Action Mobilization Network. Special focus is given to the housing crisis, the role of the banks, programs used by other countries to alleviate the problem, as well as the fact that women are the most adversely affected by this issue. H Con Res 98 - Resolve to Eliminate Homelessness - has been introduced in Congress by Rep. Alma Adams (NC-12) and is endorsed on this call.