A Message from our Executive Director

A MESSAGE FROM OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

VICKY CASTRO:

Today marks the entrance of a new period for our society. Today we embark on an era of Resistance. The build up to Inauguration day for many has been guided by feelings of grief, disbelief, fear or anger caused by a Presidential candidate that has promoted racism, sexism, misogyny, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and homophobia. This moment has also been a time of processing, reflection and healing. Quite honestly it personally took me awhile to spring back from the aftermath of the elections. I needed to sit in those emotions, be present with them, and be unapologetic about what I was feeling. By doing this, it allowed me to heal and rise so that I could be strong and resilient for what lies ahead.

What revived me the most was the determination of our community. I realized that the fight to uphold our deepest values of equity, justice and human rights never stopped. From young to old, from straight to queer, from black to brown, from undocumented to documented the message broadcasted was clear: WE WILL NOT BACK DOWN! The power of the people has never been stronger. I am reminded that the only position higher than the President is the PEOPLE. Today we will remind the new President of our PEOPLE POWER!

We come from extraordinary, strong and inspirational people. We are the descendants of slaves, colonized peoples, displaced nations, immigrants, refugees, deportees and victims of war. Our ancestors were survivors. We know they were survivors because we are here and we exist. To quote Jennicet Gutierrez, a chingona TransLatinx activist “Nuestro Exisitir es Resistir” “Our Existence is Resistence.” Their survival runs in our blood, it is our roots and the foundation of our resilience. Our ancestor’s struggle is what bonds us to move forward together.

Amazing things can happen when people join together with a shared purpose: the desire for social justice and one another’s liberation connects everyone. For that reason our resistance will be strong, paced and persistent. It will be made up of civil disobedience, organizing and collective pressure. But it also consists of fighting together to make sure that all will have access to legal representation, rapid response, education and outreach services in our community.

We must stand for one another, protect eachother and defend dignity. We must stay vigilant in order to make sure that no one’s rights are taken way. We must be prepared and educate ourselves on any policy, legislation or law enacted that will dismantle the progress that has been made in our society. In doing so we will be able to creatively and intellectually counter any regression. Here in San Francisco, we prepare for the worst because of the values we promote. We are the City of San Francis. We are known for inclusion and helping the most vulnerable. Our residents know that all are welcome, that they are safe, that they belong and that they are not alone. That is why we must be feverishly watchful and ready to fight to protect Sanctuary City and Due Process.

But today, we go out and protest and show our discontent loudly and proudly because it is our right. And it is a fundamental right of democracy. We have a duty to show our displeasure and resist because it is part of the fabric that maintains a democracy. Let us be clear, we are out marching because our democracy is facing an existential threat and there is a need for real progressive change. The struggle towards this change has just begun. Today is Day 1.

Tomorrow, we must buckle and brace for the harshest storm yet. The first hit will be in immigration. Hyper deportations will commence and the immense pain and heartbreak in our immigrant communities will long be felt. Families will be torn apart and people will be dehumanized. But here in San Francisco, like in New York, we are ready. We are determined to continue changing the narrative of who our immigrant community is. They are not criminals. They are our brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, husband, wives, parents, friends, neighbors and classmates. They are a part of this country and have contributed their blood, sweat and tears to make this country.

In preparation of this storm, community agencies that we partner with (SFILEN and SFILDC) have strategized and planned with our board of supervisors and the Mayor himself. We presented the plan that we believe will have the most impact in holistically defending our immigrant community. Not only have we increased our community presentations regarding know your rights and how to protect yourself from raids or ICE coming to their house, but we have also ramped up services to provide more legal screenings so that we can identify any underlying relief that would put individuals on the pathway to legalization. We are ready now to provide access to counsel for immigrants in deportation proceedings. And while we will not be able to help everyone, because there are so many in need, we are working diligently to make sure universal representation is actualized so that EVERYONE in removal proceedings will have an attorney.

This presidency will be endured as if we are training for the longest marathon of our lives. We will overcome and emerge victorious. I have faith in this. Maybe there will be some losses, but we will be triumphant in the fundamental ones that infringe on our ability to exist free from racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, mysogeny and homophobia. We will NOT let these hateful sentiments become normalized. We will NOT allow a repressive culture to take over. Everytime they try to….WE WILL SHUT IT DOWN! We will make sure that our message of respect for humanity, love for one another, equity and justice will be what guides the nation.

This fight in its ups and downs will unify us like family. We will commit to showing up for eachother. We will stand together proudly with, love, passion and solidarity with our Immigrant, undocumented, Latinx, Black, API, Indigenous, LGBTQ, Muslim, working, and homeless brothers and sisters. We will take back the nation that we were building together that was just starting to realize its actuality: A country that truly believes and provides liberty, equity and justice for all! We will make history when we achieve this because it is the people that make history not the politicians!

We look forward to working with you all in creating our new reality where economic, social and racial justice is for all. I know it is possible. !SI SE PUEDE PORQUE JUNTOS PODEMOS! Yes we will because together we can!