The Immigrant Justice & Sanctuary Working Group steering committee (Rick Colbath-Hess, Howie Shrobe, and I) meets every week on Wednesdays to review new requests for grants on behalf of our immigrant buddies. As referrals to our committee have slowed down in the past year, many of our volunteers have moved on to other activities. The rate of donations to our Go Fund Me account has slowed as well. In a conference call with Zohar, we decided to start a book club with the dual goals of learning more about immigration and immigrants as well as engaging BWC members in learning more about our committee’s ongoing work.
We chose the book Harvest of Empire by Juan Gonzalez and met In December and twice in January to discuss the three parts of the book. We were joined by one BWC volunteer and two volunteers from Boston Immigrant Justice Accompaniment Network (BIJAN).
Discussion of Harvest of Empire was wide-ranging, which was not a surprise given the breadth and scope of the Latin American experience covered in the book. We discussed the roots of segregation in the U.S., beginning with the Pilgrims who wanted land and a fresh start and who were not interested in understanding nor cooperating with the Indians they encountered. As the book progressed through the periods of U.S. expansionism and colonialism, our own personal experiences with meeting and working with immigrants, as well as our experiences traveling in Latin American countries, were brought into our conversations. In our final meeting, we focused on Puerto Rico and the recent House passage of the referendum for Puerto Rico to vote on its political status.
In a lucky coincidence, on the evening of our December meeting, we were able to watch a live speech by Mr. Gonzalez at the Columbia School of Journalism. He talked about his career of 50+ years as an organizer, activist, revolutionary, and journalist before his recent move from NYC to Chicago. Juan Gonzalez is an inspiration to all who care about equity and racial and economic justice.
While we are trying to choose our next book (have ideas and want to join us? Email IJS@circleboston.org to get in touch), we continue to seek donations so that we can provide cash grants to immigrants who are struggling to make a life in the Greater Boston area. We welcome new participants to our book club (book and time to be announced soon) as well as donations to our Go Fund Me.