the philosophactivist

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Not Really Creating Change


Creating Change recently canceled a discussion with ICE (Immigration Customs Enforcement) officials because of pushback from organizations like Not1More, Familia: the Trans and Queer Liberation Movement, the Transgender Law Center, GetEqual and the TransLatin@ Coalition in Florida. A petition and hashtag (#IceOutOfCC) were created. It has since been shared through social media 2,600 times. It seems just a few days was enough time to put pressure onto the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force that hosts the yearly event.

From the petition page:

Is Creating Change a safe haven for all of the LGBTQ community or isn’t it? 
That’s the question we are left asking when we saw that representatives of Immigration and Customs Enforcement were invited to hold a caucus at the conference. 
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the agency that oversees the detention centers where 1 in 5 trans detainees will experience sexual assault and is in charge of deporting us to our potential deaths. Our families and community continue to be terrorized, deported, and separated by ICE, just this month ICE raided many homes and deported over 100 Central American children and women.
But right now that same agency is an invited presenter at Creating Change. 
ICE has no place at a conference that, at its basic principle, should be about providing a safe home for all LGBTQ people. 
The National LGBTQ Task Force fails in providing that sanctuary if it provides a platform to the agency that allows the physical and sexual abuse of trans undocumented women inside detention and at the same time refuses to meet with trans undocumented organizers to hear from the most impacted. 
Our families and community face ICE’s terror on a daily basis, we shouldn’t also have to face it at the conference where we come together to create change. 

Please join Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, GetEQUAL, Not1More, the Transgender Law Center, and the TransLatin@ Coalition/Florida in demanding the National LGBTQ Task Force and Creating Change affirm that the conference is a sanctuary for all LGBTQ people by denying ICE entry and a platform and for ICE to instead meet with trans undocumented women and grassroots organizations off-site to discuss how to make real change and end the inhumane detention and deportation of LGBTQ people

Here is the response from the Task Force:

"Sue Hyde here. I am the director of the Creating Change Conference. In early Fall, we received and reviewed a proposal from three ICE officials to convene a caucus for the purpose of engaging attendees about ICE detention policies. As we reviewed the proposal, we perceived that ICE officials would get important and critical feedback and input that might lead to improving policies on detention of LGBTQ people in ICE facilities. Creating Change seemed an important gathering for ICE officials to hear from advocates on these matters. Then came the recent wave of deportation raids. We took action to cancel the session, which was completed today, Monday 1/11/16. I apologize for the original error of accepting the session. We should not have done that. The presence of ICE officials, whether uniformed or not, poses a threat to undocumented attendees at Creating Change. I have heard, loud and clear, that this was a breach of trust and one that I very much regret."

Why they can miss me with all of this

I'm perplexed. They have so much whitesplaining to do...

Unless ICE is planning to completely put an end to deportation and detention centers completely and not just get ideas for how to better detain Queer and LGBT people (of color!)- I'm not really sure why a conversation is necessary. What dialogue is there to be had in a space that's supposed to be safe for the very folks they are hoping to "engage with". Of course they want to "engage" with the immigrant activists at the conference to get some ideas to take back to headquarters. Why this was acceptable is beyond me. This was a huge misstep that deserves some accountability. Someone on one of the discussion forums mentioned they should have a panel on why this happened. I agree. Obviously folks are out of the loop on the realities of immigration and detention and also on what it means to be a safe space for those undocumented folks in our community. This eminds me of the collaboration with police in Austin for QueerBomb and the fallout around that. Just because law enforcement doesn't pose a threat to you as a privileged white person of middle class standing doesn't mean that everyone has that experience. If you are going to say you are a safe space for "The LGBT Community" you have to think about these things. There are no excuses. And saying "Well we've learned from this now" is not enough. You've violated a lot of folks trust. If you had more undocumented immigrants and folks of color in your organization or organizing your conferences, perhaps this debacle would not have happened.