By: Irad Ulysses Flores
On Thursday February 16, 2017 I participated in the Chicago “Day Without Immigrants” boycott/protest that occurred in many major cities across the U.S. The protest was aimed at emphasizing the social and economic contributions that immigrants, documented or not, bring to this country. It was a movement rooted in solidarity between all groups of immigrants affected by the current political climate. The rally held in Union Park was full of predominantly Latinx immigrants and their allies. Mexican, Guatemalan and Honduran flags flew high and proud as speeches giving anímo to our brothers and sisters were given. People brought their children and had them hold up signs like, "We are workers, not criminals". The solidarity across age groups was astounding, but this same solidarity extended beyond the scope of age. There were allies of all ethnicities and backgrounds present, from White Union workers, to “Jewish Voice for Peace”. Also among this diverse crowd were many disabled Latinx elders: using their walkers, canes, and wheelchairs. This rally then moved into a march heading west on Ashland Ave, shutting down the streets lined with businesses that closed down in support of the protest. It was an amazing scene.
This was my first ever involvement in a rally or protest, and I can say without a doubt that being a part of the Disability Studies program at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and being a part of CNLD has inspired me. I have always had issues that mattered to me, but I never understood the importance of activist actions like protests and rallies. Through my education I have learned about the Disability Rights Movement, the 504 sit-ins, and the exclusion of people of color from these narratives. My hope is to involve myself and my family in Disability rights issues to make sure the contributions of our people are not blotted out again.
Though the general Latinx community stands to be harmed by the beliefs and policies of the current administration, the Disabled Latinx community specifically faces great potential harm. The only way to fight back against systemic injustice is by amplifying our voices. Protests and rallies can accomplish this; and after getting my first taste of activism in February, I am ready to keep fighting for my Disabled Latinx hermanxs.