At Mijente’s first ever member gathering, La Sazonblea, we kicked off our last day with a speech from Paulina to ground us spiritually for our next steps and commitments to each other as we build our political home together. You can read the speech below:
I’ve seen May Day co-opted over the years and real working people stomped over on the way to socialist rallies organized by people that cannot imagine such suffering. But our parents faces remind us of the true cost of sacrifice, and what it means to cross a river into a better life.
I think about race and ethnicity and culture + place. And love …love above all. The kind of love that asks you look somebody in the eye and tell them that you are willing to do ANYTHING so that they can eat, and sleep safely at night.
We know this political war was not made by immigrant people. It was not thought of by Native people, it was not dreamed of by Black folks, it was not design by Arab, Muslim or Asian folks. Pacific Islanders and Caribbean folks ain’t even got time for that.
It was designed and architected by generations and scores of people who never planned on sharing any power; who only thought of monarchies fed by the bondage of others, and from there went sale prices, profit margins, open markets, deregulations, and skimming off the top while stealing from the bottom.
The same people who vote against our freedom time and time again.
I know in my indigenous mestiza bones that race, caste + class are inextricably braided into a noose meant to choke the life out of us. Or at least keep us tethered to a house / farm / ranch / kitchen / stable or basement that feed empires of wealth we can not touch or see, that is, until we can give more.
Dred Scott showed us that… him and his left a trail for us to follow back. To the recent times of our political subjugation as Black / Brown / Indigenous and many other tribal people whose names we will never know. But we do know them in other ways. Southern fields have drank from the blood of our kinfolk, sisters, mothers, fathers and babies. So many babies.
We hear their whispers across rivers and shores. Lloronas and keepers of our stories.
And yet the all mighty $ entices us into looking into the lives of the rich and infamous for culture and stories. Fictional yet seductive. Trump got that … the seducing power of affluence above all. Assimilation isn’t just about whiteness or skin bleach. It’s also about walking down Main Streets of America pretending we don’t see the suffering on our Side Streets and underpasses where our folks often struggle to make a better life.
It binds us to a continental and global mandate to wretch power away from those that will continue to steal generations of our babies away into their wars, fields, boarding schools and factories so that America Can Be Great Again. #asif
I celebrate all working class folks today + #always. I pray blessings into the beautiful hands that held us while we were sick at night, and then worked all day to feed us, house us, bless us the fruit of their labor and sacrifices. Young to old, children / sons / daughters / cousins / mamis / papis / tíos + tias that STILL manage to send money home.
Wherever home is, is also the root of freedom. Because our freedom is about love and kinship. It’s about those of us that cannot walk away from our tribes. Who itch to know our names. Who search for a light glimmering in the darkness. And who for too long have struggled to stay out of county jails and detention centers so we could fulfill love’s promise on this side of the border. Who risk death across fields, deserts, river and ocean shores to bless this land with our work and dreams too. We make bread and plant roses that seed a different kind of Latinx cultural revolution that will not disappear in our lifetime or the next. Because it has met the generosity of the Southern Black freedom struggle + native sovereignty tribal and global movement and we are gathering to bless the hands that carry the water and fire… along with our babies and our babies’s babies.
We must reclaim our kinfolks out of bondage and bonded cages, along the land that holds our feet and futures – all worth protecting + defending.
I believe organizing is a freedom ritual – it’s an ask that we fulfill love’s promise to be about words AND deeds. So now I organize my life around my goals and my goals are freedom bound. From Borinquen to Aztlan – I too believe that we will win.
Paulina Helm-Hernandez is the Special Projects Director of Southerners on New Ground, and former Co-Director.