I think my two projects are related. Every time I think about the children and their parents, I get dizzy and short of breath. I feel like my blood is thinned somehow. I am having a visceral physical reaction to this news.
Part of the reason: I am a scholar of American literature, from its beginnings to its present, and therefore think about a lot of moments in U.S. history that most people haven't thought about since they were in high school--or, more commonly, that most people have never heard of.
I know what happened during hundreds of years of chattel slavery; I know what happened during more than a hundred years of Indian boarding schools, and adoption policies that stole Indigenous children from their people. (This problem was so bad that the U.S. government had to make a federal law about it--in 1978. And just a few years ago, the state of South Dakota was sued for violating this federal law. So this particular problem is ongoing, friends.)
I know how this story goes; I know the horror of its details, and the trauma it will cause, not only now but in generations to come. I read stories and poems, some by the children and parents who live this nightmare, and some by their descendants.
I want a different ending, but I don't know what to do. So I'm going to try these actions, and am sharing them in case you'd like to try, too:
-- call the office of Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio); he is chair of the Senate's permanent subcommittee on investigations, which has already pressed the HHS for solutions to this problem. Phone 202.224.3353 (DC office) or 614.469.6774 (Columbus).
-- call your congresspersons and demand they call for policy change, investigation, accountability, anything. Ask them what they're doing about this problem. The main switchboard in DC is at 202.225.3121 for House of Rep.s and 202.224.3121 for Senators. The people there can help you get ahold of the right offices. Or you can check these websites to find your senators and find your representative.
-- if calling people on the phone gives you the willies, you can use the script prepared by 5calls.org.
-- two recommendations from politicalcharge.org, shared on FB by my lovely friend Fiona Pearson:
- The ACLU is gathering signatures to petition Kevin K. McAleenan, Commissioner of United States Customs and Border Protection to stop the government from abusing immigrant children. You can find the petition here.
- You can contact ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) directly. Write to them here or call them at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.
-- talk to family members and friends, especially those who voted for this racistass president, about what's happening.
-- other things I will be doing today: sending good thoughts/praying. Sending love, love, love out into the world. Sending my wishes that those in power will really see what is happening, and practice their empathy skills.
The past year has dulled my confidence that telling my elected officials what I think will actually create change. But really, doing nothing would make me sick. I know too much to stay silent.
May you be well today,