Meet Jill Shenker, Community Organizer for National Domestic Workers Alliance
(Editor's note: Jill was recently appointed Lead Organizer of the NDWA and although she no longer works for LRCL, she was an integral part of the organizing the social media campaign.)
I was born in the US to the grandchildren of immigrants -- Jews who came in the major wave of Jewish migration to the US in the early 1900s to escape poverty, racism, and antisemitism in Eastern Europe. A century later I come to this work from a place of relative privilege, as a middle-class queer Jewish woman with white skin privilege born in the US. Growing up queer and Jewish in Colorado Springs contributed to my alignment with other marginalized people and my commitment to a multi-racial, multi-issue collective struggle for a better world.
Everyday I am more aware of the privileges of whiteness and citizenship and everyday I am more shocked that we as a country can create, defend, and condone such a racist exploitative and inhumane caste system. While the current presidential election has many white Americans feeling proud about how far our country has come since slavery and Jim Crow, Latino people are being rounded up by the hundreds in workplace raids, random check points, and door-to-door raids; workers are being underpaid and are getting hurt and sick in unsafe working conditions, and are being threatened with deportation if they say anything about it; racist anti-immigrant laws of every kind are being introduced all over the place all the time; and undocumented immigrants are living in hiding, afraid to call the police or go to the emergency room or even go to work.
As I read the news and I talk with the men and women of the Day Labor Program and Women's Collective I start to notice, to take note, that I can J-walk without fear of being deported and ripped from my family and my access to a job that enables me to provide for my family. I can travel without fear, which meant I could visit my dad while he was sick and before he died and attend his funeral and be with my family when that is the only thing one could possibly want to do. I have seen too many people mourn the loss of loved ones without having been able to give them a last caress or embrace a family member for support. I can tell people where I live. I can use my real name. I can show my face on TV. I have an ID I can use to get a bank account or go to the doctor or get a job. I can get a job. And on and on. And people without documents do all of these things too, but when they do, it is a risk. And in it's own way it is an act of faith that humanity and justice will win out over greed and hatred and ignorance. Sometimes they are right. And sometimes, sadly, they lose the gamble and endure a lot of suffering while the rich leaders of our economy keep reaping more profits out of an underclass of terrorized workers.
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This report (PDF 3.8MB) offers guidance for community organizations and those who fund social change in how best to harness the power of local media-making for community health improvement. Spanish-language version is now available. Una versión en español de este informe esta en la web.