On Monday, OneAmerica joined hundreds of community members and some of Washington’s most powerful elected leaders gathered for a major press event and rally at the Seattle Center Pavilion declaring Washington to be a Hate Free State.
Elected leaders affirming Washington’s leadership as a hate free zone included Governor Jay Inslee, King County Executive Dow Constantine, US Representatives Suzan DelBene, Derek Kilmer and Adam Smith, US Representative-Elect and former OneAmerica Executive Director Pramila Jayapal, State Superintendent of Education Chris Reykdal, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and Council Members Lorena Gonzalez and Lisa Herbold. More than 30 labor unions and more than 50 community organizations representing immigrant and refugee communities, the women’s and LGBTQ movements, the worker rights and environmental movements, the region’s diverse faith communities came together as a powerful show of solidarity and support.
The action was necessary now as a community-wide response to a striking increase in hate-motivated incidents in Washington, including the defacing of the sign for the Muslim Association of Puget Sound. It was also an opportunity for a broad cross-section of the community to come together to affirm a set of values – inclusivity, tolerance, diversity and hope – as we prepare for an unpredictable, but openly anti-immigrant, anti-refugee and anti-Muslim Trump Administration in 2017.
As we prepare for an uncertain and dangerous future, it’s important to remember that our nation has been here before. Our immigration system has always been a contested space at the convergence of critical elements vying for the nation’s will: a populist impulse toward racial and ethnic exclusion, underlying fear over national and economic security, important economic interests, compassion toward immigrants and refugees and a recognition of our shared history of a nation built on immigration, and the growing political clout of immigrant communities and their allies. While a Trump Administration will have significant executive authority to act on his outrageous campaign promises, like before in our history what matters most is how this generation of Americans will ultimately rise to this old challenge.
We must unequivocally center our fight in the hopes and aspirations of the generations of immigrants – from the beginning of this nation’s founding – from every corner of the world, who built this nation. And in this sense, immigrants and refugees arriving here today, are no less American than any generation of immigrants who came before.
Today’s Muslim, Immigrant and Refugee communities are responding by teaching ourselves our fundamental constitutional rights, by organizing, and by building broad coalitions to assert our humanity and dignity in the face of oppression, exclusion, intimidation and violence against our families, institutions and communities. This is the heart of who we all are as Americans. In the coming months and perhaps years, there will be a storm we must weather. We will always rise, and we will not hold back to simply wait for the next demagogue, the next anti-immigrant policy, the next hate crime. We must take action now.
Our world view understands where we’ve come from as a nation and the consequences of going backward. Therefore, we must courageously affirm that each of us, together, belong in this state and nation we all call home. We won’t back down or look away when we or others are scapegoated or attacked. Our shared, American and Washingtonian fundamental values of justice, democracy, inclusion and hope will ultimately be the source of our shared prosperity, now and tomorrow.
And the hard day-to-day work has already begun:
- Know your rights trainings and grassroots leadership development and support in immigrant, refugee and Muslim communities.
- Coalition-building within Muslim, immigrant and refugee communities and with key allies in the broader movement for democracy and justice.
- Strategic communications telling our stories, humanizing our communities and communicating to concerned Washingtonians how they can help and show support.
- State and local policy campaigns to pass resolutions and laws that can help to protect our communities, and to push back against anticipated federal attacks on families and communities
- Mobilizations, in partnerships with hundreds of organizations across the nation, asserting he dignity of our communities and to blunt the impact of the new Administratio
We join with so many others and proclaim Washington State to be a Hate Free Zone. We will work together to protect our families, institutions and communities from violence and harassment motivated by ignorance and hate; to build broad coalitions that embrace all Americans who believe in the fundamentally American values of justice, due process, democracy, inclusion and hope; and to shape a future that lives up to the aspirations of the generations of immigrants who built this nation reaching back to our founding. We call on all of Washington’s leaders to stand against hate and xenophobia, and to defend not just today’s immigrant and refugee communities, but these principles that are foundational to our state and nation.
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