I nearly lost it yesterday when I came across an article in the New York Times about a list of supposed illegal immigrantsthat had landed in the hands of law enforcement and media outlets all over the state of Utah. The list caused widespread panic among the Hispanic community and a wave of outrage across the country. An accompanying letter – sent by something called the “Concerned Citizens of the United States” called for deportation of the individuals on the list as well as the publication of their names in the media. It’s hard to say exactly which part of this whole debacle is creepier, the fact that many of the names were accompanied by privileged medical information, or the quote from the end of the letter: “We will be listening and watching.”
Sometimes it seems that the hate in this world is taking over. But then I hear stories about people who are doing really brilliant and beautiful things to counteract all of the hate. Here’s my short list for you: A bunch of people who are not letting the negativity get them down, but instead, using their frustration to fuel efforts to make the world a better place.
Artist Eroyn Franklin recently took on the task of depicting the Northwest Detention Center, located in Tacoma and home to immigrants who are waiting to find out whether or not they’ll be deported. Though Franklin was not allowed to photograph the inside of the center, she spent 6 months after her visit there illustrating what she had seen. The Seattle-based artist’s goal was to "… show people what it looked like, what it felt like inside these places." The exhibit is currently showing at Gallery4Culture in Pioneer Square.
The If Project began while Seattle Police Officer Kim Bogucki was running programs for children whose mothers were incarcerated. Noting that children whose parents are in jail have a 70% change of ending up there themselves, it occurred to her that the inmates may have ideas about how to change things for their kids. So she posed this question: “If there was something someone could have said or done that would have changed the path that led you here, what would it have been?” Since the question was first asked, Bogucki has received more than 240 essays. Though the If Project focuses on finding ways to “break the chain of felonies that have brought them all here, in the hopes of preventing others from doing the same,” it also gives these women a chance to be heard, which is something they don’t often experience. You can hear one woman’s story of how the If Project has touched her life on NPR HERE.
New on the scene, Team Up For Nonprofits views music as the ultimate way to tap into the philanthropic leanings of the Seattle’s younger generation. Its goal is to produce great shows that benefit a particularly deserving local nonprofit organization. Their first endeavor – a show at the newly minted Hard Rock Café featuring Common Market’s Ra Scion, DJ B-Mello, Project Lionheart, and Sol and Dice, benefitting Seattle Against Slavery – was a great success. It makes good sense: awesome shows + money for great causes = everybody wins.
Lambda Legal has tried a more kitschy approach to fighting fear and hatred. After Linda Lingle vetoed Hawaii’s civil unions bill last week, the organization has taken to sending her postcards in Classic-Hawaii-Tourist-Camp style that read “Equality: Wish You Were Here.”
You see now? The world isn’t such a bad place after all. The media will always overwhelm us with tales of injustice. But I like to think that for every ignorant action there is person out there fighting for what’s right.