Today we observe Freedom Day, a day to celebrate the abolition of slavery and the beginning of Black History Month in the United States. During Black History Month, we honor the lives of Black people and uplift historic Black contributions to the world. We can also use this month to look toward the future, as the Movement for Black Lives envisions with Black Futures Month, a time “to dream and imagine a world in which we are free and self-determined.” As we look to the future, however, we must not ignore the structural anti-Black racism and White supremacy that Black people continue to face and society’s attempts to maintain the status quo of White supremacy.
The U.S. claims to be a nation that welcomes immigrants, yet it continues to abandon immigrants in their time of need, with Black immigrants in particular facing an endless cycle of discrimination and violence committed by a system that should protect them. Currently, the U.S. government is defending its use of Title 42 to prevent immigrants from seeking protection in the United States, supposedly in the name of public health. As Karla Marisol Vargas, senior staff attorney for the Texas Civil Rights project, said, “Scapegoating Black, Indigenous, and other migrants of color as vectors of disease just serves as an example of the ongoing racism entrenched in our immigration system.”
At Tahirih, we are committed to ending anti-Black racism and White supremacy in all forms — in our justice system, our communities, our own organizations, and ourselves. We encourage you to join us in elevating, listening to, and learning about organizations in which Black migrants come together to support each other and their larger communities.
- Black Alliance for Just Immigration uses organization, education, advocacy, and cross-cultural alliances with the goal of ending the racism, criminalization, and economic disenfranchisement perpetrated against Black immigrants, refugees, and African American communities. For more than 15 years, they have united Black voices in the pursuit of equality and justice in both laws and local communities.
- Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project (BLMP) is housed at the Transgender Law Center and includes local and regional networks across the country. BLMP programs include national organizing efforts, deportation defense for detained community members, and research such as the inaugural Queer Black Migrant Survey — all in pursuit of “a world where no one is forced to give up their homeland, where all Black LGBTQIA+ people are free and liberated.” BLMP is providing financial support for Black LGBTQ+ migrants and first-generation individuals who have been affected by COVID-19.
- The Haitian Bridge Alliance’s (HBA) website highlights the saying “Many hands lighten the load.” This grassroots nonprofit organization “advocates for fair and humane immigration policies and provides migrants and immigrants with humanitarian, legal, and social services, with a particular focus on Black migrants, the Haitian community, women and girls, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and survivors of torture and other human rights abuses.” HBA trains migrants in their own languages on issues such as employment, tax, and landlord/tenant laws, as well as immigration laws and policies. They also offer a detention hotline, health support, humanitarian aid, and more.
- UndocuBlack Network (UBN) aims to “have truly inclusive immigrant rights and racial justice movements that advocate for the rights of Black undocumented individuals.” This multigenerational network includes local chapters in New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC, that enable Black undocumented immigrants to find kinship with others in their communities. UBN also established a Mental Wellness Initiative to address the trauma of those in the Black undocumented immigrant community, including by ensuring individuals have access to mental health services.
The welfare of each of us is inextricably bound to the welfare of all. On Freedom Day and every day to come, we must honor this belief by continuing to pursue a future that includes liberation and justice for Black people in the United States and around the world.