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The Nonprofit Strategist

If You Have a Voice and a Conscience, Now is the Time to Use Them

What’s happening at our southern border is unconscionable. The Trump Administration’s child concentration camps need to be shut down immediately, and these children need to be returned to their parents. Their parents, many of whom are asylum seekers, need to be treated with respect and dignity, and not arrested for acting to protect their children from harm. No one travels a thousand miles through harsh conditions because they want a new dishwasher. They do it for the safety and futures of their children.

Normally, we talk about nonprofit capacity building in our blogs. But I cannot stay silent. Nor can any of us. My 88-year-old father and my wife are spitting nails about this. The guys I get my morning coffee with are beside themselves. 

So yes, now is the time to ask and respond with action to the question: Who owns this country? Who owns the future? Those who would do evil, or those who combat it? I say the latter. This is a fight for the soul of this country, and we must win. Or we are all stained with this disgrace.

We must acknowledge America’s shameful past. Our country did similar things to Japanese-American kids during WWII. We separated Native American children from their parents to place them in boarding schools. We broke up black families when we sold them as slaves.

We have to reckon with that history. But it’s also important to recall that in every instance, the best of America rose up and fought back against these crimes against humanity. We have had 50 years of relative progress thanks to the many who fought and died for civil rights and the end of Jim Crow. But these victories were partial and overly celebrated by a self-satisfied white population blind to this country's past and its institutional racism—the same institutional racism that has propagated this perilous moment in our history.

A new generation is now called to fight for our future, and to stand on the shoulders of their forebears, who also fought for a better country. This new generation's task is to use the present moment to directly confront the white supremacist rot at the heart of the American project.

Because you’re on our site, reading our blog, we know that you’re in the fight with us. That you also believe in the inherent dignity of every person, in social justice, and in taking a stand for what’s right. Some of you may even be among the frontline organizers, lawyers, and nonprofit workers who are fighting these monstrous policies with every resource you’ve got. So, thank you, for all that you are already doing.

If you’re still looking for ways to help: Kate and I have personally both donated in recent days to RAICES Texas, which is one of many great frontline organizations supporting families at the border (they also sent one of the best follow-up emails to a donation that Kate has ever seen – a topic for another post). We encourage you to also find an organization, be it RAICES or another, to which you can contribute your money or your time; Slate has a great listFamilies Belong Together rallies are being planned for June 30th across the United States. On Thursday, RAICES is hosting a national webinar for people who are looking for a way to do something in their own communities. For fellow white people, read and learn how you can work to dismantle the racist attitudes and structures that brought us to this point; Kate is currently reading and recommends So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo.

Hopelessness is not an option. Hope is. Fighting for what’s right is. So keep fighting – and tell others how they can get in the ring too. Comment below if you have additional suggestions for where to give, where to volunteer, or where to show up to fight against these monstrous policies.