“Imagining solutions,” the title of one of the many incredible conversations held last weekend at the annual conference of the National Alliance of Latinoamerican and Caribbean Communities (NALACC). “We chose the word ‘imagine’ deliberately,” explained Oscar Chacon, Executive Director of the Alliance. “We are often told we need to accept the world as it is.” Organizers and activists gathered from around the country, as well as from Mexico and Central America, to reflect on ten years of work together and to chart a path towards a world as we imagine it should be.
United for a Fair Economy attended in support of the alliance and the incredible work being done by organizers and activists across the country. NALACC is made up of Latino immigrant-lead organizations who are engaged in an inclusive struggle for social, economic and racial justice. They are on the front lines, challenging the concentration of wealth and power. Their work is vital to forming a movement that will build a more just society, a fair economy. With the incredible challenges faced by immigrants in the U.S. and the violence and economic destitution that force many to migrate, we must hold our imaginations close.
And as we imagine, we must also speak. “The words we use create our reality,” said panelist Maria Elena Letona, Executive Director of Neighbor to Neighbor, a state-based economic and social justice organization in Massachusetts. Following presentations from academics, journalists and activists, conference attendees divided into working groups to discuss what they heard and to plan. United for a Fair Economy’s education team facilitated an extended dialogue on economic inequality. This dialogue-based approach to organizing gave an opportunity to everyone attending to take ownership in the creation of a new reality.
“We have to talk about power,” insisted Miguel Huezo-Mixco, who flew in from El Salvador representing the United Nations Development Program. He wasn’t only talking about the extreme concentration of wealth and power that organizations like NALACC and UFE seek to challenge, but also the power we harness to confront injustice. “How do we exercise power together?” he asked.
The NALACC facilitation team documented people’s responses in order to create a plan for building power over the years to come. Organizers also offered a specific way in which power could be used to protect the human rights and dignity of immigrants across the country: “Mr. President, use the power of the pen” read a banner on the stage in front. It is the title of a campaign to put pressure on President Obama to use executive action to halt deportations. The effort reflects the incredible imagination of the strong and committed immigrant organizers. In spite of significant barriers placed by inequality, they have imagined a world in which people, immigrant and non-immigrant, are valued for their unique social, cultural and economic contributions to this country and to the world. President Obama is planning to announce an immigration enforcement overhaul that could protect as many as five million immigrants from the threat of deportation. This is thanks to an effort lead by immigrant activists and organizers across the country like those at NALACC, like the #not1more campaign, and many others waging the fight for justice. United for a Fair Economy is proud to stand by their side.