The livelihood of our families at the heart of our #OneStruggle

by Olivia Chow | November 25, 2014 3:26 pm

Can we talk about these last few days? They have been emotional.

We ended last week taking part in rallies and events across the country celebrating the long anticipated administrative relief announced by President Obama for millions of families. Last night, the St. Louis County prosecutor in the case of Michael Brown’s murder announced that his killer would not stand trial. And this Thursday, our country will observe Thanksgiving, a national holiday to give thanks with family.

This Thanksgiving, our hearts go out to the countless families who are forced to have difficult conversations that others take for granted. Being able to spend the day sharing a meal with loved ones is truly a privilege – one that all Americans should examine and reflect on.

Our hearts go out to all the immigrant rights activists who, after countless phone calls, petitions, rallies, vigils, acts of civil disobedience and years of activists, must explain how this historic moment will still mean 6 million lives in the shadows. DREAMers who are granted status through the executive action will have to explain to their parents that they may not qualify for the same relief.

Our hearts go out to the hundred million loved ones behind bars, and their family members who suffer their punishment with them. Families serve time with their incarcerated loved ones — by being forced to pick up jobs to cover lost wages and excessive fees enforced by prisoner profiteers, including high prison phone costs.

Our heart goes out to the kitchen table conversations among black families that will have to explain the injustice of Mike Brown’s murder without trial. Many parents will hug their children a little tighter, praying that they stay safe but knowing that they enter a world that won’t see them as whole — a world where those in power maintain the rules that profit few, but subject countless lives to discrimination, violence, and trauma.

What does this trauma look like? It is one in 28 children having at least one parent incarcerated. Two out of three of these parents are locked up on minor drug-related charges. This is one in nine black children with a parent imprisoned.

This trauma looks like one in four low-wage workers forced to choose between working long hours on holidays like Thanksgiving or being fired. It is parents missing time with their families and children like Jillian Fisher missing out on cherished family traditions and memories.

This is the trauma that millions of Americans will reflect on this Thanksgiving Day. For those who do not face these injustices, it is our imperative responsibility to take action for all Americans struggling in our broken economic and racial justice systems. Take action against corporate bosses dehumanizing labor for profit and prison profiteers cashing checks from locked up families. Take action for millions of American families without documentation. Take action for lives across the country that face the same violence as Michael Brown did.

This Thanksgiving, let us all give more than just our thanks – let us give our whole selves to commit to the fight for justice for all families.

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