Close the Camps

By Kelly Curry

One year ago, on a clear, hot afternoon in Berlin, I stood at the  Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. 

I hadn’t planned on being there. 

It was simply en route to the conference hall that morning, as was Unter den Linden, the widely filmed and photographed city street where Adolph Hitler made his most famous speeches, paraded The Third Reich, rolled tanks and displayed for the watching world his plan of world domination by “murdering everything moving” to borrow a phrase from Jay Z, that did not fit in with his view of what the world should look like. 

That hot, summer day in Berlin also launched the first of what would become thousands of images of crying children being separated from their moms at the US/Mexico border as the Federal Government began enforcing its policy of family separations of migrants entering the country from Latin and Central America.

This news rings through my head and sits heavily on my heart as I stand at the Memorial, in its deafening silence where thousands of cold slabs of concrete demonstrate the hard truth of what happens when people know...but do nothing, see...but do nothing, feel...but do nothing...I stand there and pray for the children, for the mothers, for the world...for strength and courage not to be silent...again.  

In the midst of those giant tombstone like slabs towering into the blue Berlin sky, a voice as clear as day says to my heart, in my soul  “remind them that we are ONE and that suffering anywhere is suffering everywhere.” 

Little did I know that we were being swallowed down a mouth of hell where crimes of a galactic nature that we could never, ever take back would unfold before our eyes...eyes and minds that can no longer look back with umbridge and judgment and blame the actors and people and players who organized and profitted from American Slavery; watched as the atrocities unfolded in Ruwanda, Nazi Germany, Concentration Camps here in the US that interred the Japanese. Now we have our chance to be judged by our future selves and our children and theirs for not doing everything in our power to avert the tortures and murders of children at our borders by a government bent on parading its disregard for the natural, cosmic laws of life, across a universal stage. 

It’s a little over a  year later and the situation that I’d hoped was temporary, has become a way of life and like standing against the narrow, suffocating alleys of cold concrete that weird day in Berlin, erected to remind human beings of what happens when we see crimes against nature and life but do little to nothing, the situation with children being separated from their loved ones, tortured, molested, starved, brutalized...murdered at our borders is beyond my ability to comprehend. 

But regardless of whether I can comprehend it...understand it...it is real. 

Today, July 5th 2019  I am standing in the sweltering heat of El Paso Texas, at the border to Juarez Mexico where many organizations including CODEPINK, answer the call of OneBillionRising and demand the closing of Concentration Camps where children and families are being warehoused, tortured, starved, traumatized, brutalized and killed. 

CODEPINK activists Kelly Currt and Patricia Foulkrod along with CODEPINK Co-Founder Diane Wilson in El Paso, Texas

On a weekend when many Americans are usually celebrating with fireworks, bbq, boiled corn and sweet slices of cold watermelon, this weekend, all over America, people are gathering like this to demand the closing of the camps.

Here in El Paso, adjacent a bustling community center which supports immigrant families and a bordertown neighborhood at every level, a  large group of artists, activists and concerned global and local citizens organized by Eve Ensler and One Billion Rising, gather our bodies, our hearts, our Souls and heed the call to speak, sing, raise voice, fire, song and beat of the drum to lift the spirits of the people who languish behind us in captivity, whose fate and destiny looms in the unknown on a blazing hot July afternoon in tents, under bridges, in the stone facility that is swollen with the unconscionably horrendous deeds of our government...and history repeats..this time in our face...as the story unfolds on television,  from computer screens, as phones scroll photographs of what is happening right here at the border.

From the stage we hear stories of young, local students, activists, organizers and artists who when they share their art, their ideas, their poetry their understanding of what is happening in their own communities, they are hauled off in the middle of the night and held without release..by ICE. We hear of children in custody at the border who die from hypothermia and doctors who visit children in the facilities to see traumatized, confused, emaciated and babies showing deep signs of physical, emotional and psychic neglect.

"Immigration Justice NOW!" Setting up the stage for the One Billion Rising community gathering

I know all too well. 

In between Berlin and El Paso there have been many trips to the US/MX border where I have witnessed the way the American government and Mexican government are working together to herd migrants out of the public view and out into the deserts beyond reach of concerned activists, neighbors, media, beyond witnesses and behind God’s back. They are pushed and pinned into giant open air facilities with no running water, no food, no blankets. 

These spots are temporary because from these places, they are “evicted.” 

Evicted to where...the trail falls cold after that.  

This is a lot to face and to take so again, I pray and take any opportunity to remind folks, like the voice said to me at the Memorial is Berlin, “we are ONE.”

I take this reminder to the Local Peace Economy gatherings that I am apart of here in California and anywhere I am speaking to folks about what is happening at our nation’s borders and at borders around the globe. With over 250 million people on the move globally and many being forced to migrate because of wars and climate change, this number will only grow. 

That means we must consider how are are going to engage other citizens of the world in this movement, especially those that our government would like to see disappeared and “evicted.” 

The plan of the US government is clear. However we can use our energy, our voices, our power and ability to love and respect one another to organize systems that help our neighbors flourish. We cannot stop until every camp is closed.

Let’s fight together to close the camps and work together to find a better way to share the planet as she shifts, changes, moves and adjusts.

**************

Kelly is an author, publisher, relationship builder and social justice activist.

She utilizes her love of writing, storytelling and sharing healthy, living foods to create powerful, on the ground shifts of consciousness and build community globally.

Kelly began her career by editing and publishing Freedom Rag in Chicago, Illinois. This groundbreaking hip-hop publication was a quarterly, cultural arts journal devoted to arts and letters of the African-Diaspora.

She segued to bringing conservatory level arts programming to the children of New York City Parks and Recreation Centers in Harlem.

Through this program Kelly brought world renowned musicians, scholars, painters and activists to share their craft. She also collaborated with the kids to plant the first children's gardens in Harlem and supported them in publishing their own annual magazine.

She continued this trajectory by delivering similar programming to the the children of farm workers and homeless children in Southern California via The Living Love Foundation, where she acted as Director of Programming and Development.

In the Bay Area Kelly joined forces with food justice giants People’s Grocery and later Planting Justice in the work of reminding community about the power of Plants as Medicine and growing their own food.

Currently she is focused on “moving nutrition through the community,” by engaging committed, creative, sustainable systems change around food access for the citizens of East and West Oakland. She does this work with The Electric Smoothie Lab Apothecary aka TESLA, which she founded.

In 2017 her book, “Until the Streets of the Hood Flood with Green, The Story of the Electric Smoothie Lab Apothecary” was published by Reimagine and Freedom Voices. She has taken her book and the message to the people of New York City; Berlin; Copenhagen; Berkeley; Long Beach; and Birmingham, UK and Oakland, Ca.

She sits on the Board of Directors for Planting Justice and volunteers daily with The Food Mill where she picks up and redistributes imperfect produce at her free food store. She also delivers compost and coffee grinds back to the Earth.

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