By Kelly Merrill
Some of the issues I work on as an activist and journalist need to be unpacked before the messaging is clear to me. Sometimes there’s a big learning curve between those of us “in the know” and those we’d like to inform. As activists, journalists, and creative strategists, we labor about phrasing, tone, and perception. We gauge the receptivity of our audience.
When I write a story, I look deeply. I face difficult issues and I seek many perspectives to broaden my own. I gather a minimum of dozens of resources during my research. I live in that space and I connect with those persons directly impacted by often misunderstood issues pertaining to pain management, people who use drugs, climate, and others. I carry those stories with me.
I listened to the June 24th report on Democracy Now describing firsthand the conditions at migrant child detention camps in Texas. Heard the descriptions of the conditions people are living in and could no longer just go about my day. No, I cannot sit idly by knowing that children are being taken from their parents and being thrown into cages to be warehoused in wretched squalor.
They are body-to-body, sleeping on concrete, being denied mattresses, toothbrushes, personal hygiene products, and diapers. They’re sharing lice combs and they’re crammed into cages. Ill-equipped children are caring for sick children. And they carry the telephone numbers of their parents hidden in the cuffs and collars of their clothes.
But, with this issue…
There is no nuance to consider, no confusion, nothing to wrestle with except for our government. Facing the weight of this story was shattering. And mobilized me in a way I’d never engaged before.
So, will I sit down and pour over forty articles about this human rights atrocity to unpack the issue and provide some framework? I will not. Some things don’t deserve explanation.
Be heard. Protest. Get involved.
On July 15th, I risked arrest at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office in South Portland where I joined 14 other people to protest the detention camps on our border. I chose to act because I will not be complicit in what is happening, tacitly or otherwise. I will not avert my eyes. Regardless of risk, I will not be silent. I do not consent.
Some things are simple. Like not putting children in cages. Like demanding our government shutdown the camps on the border. Demand that they stop building more warehouses for human beings. Demand to close them and condemn the Administration that has perpetuated this atrocity.
There are terrible, dark truths about what is happening in this country, on our soil, with our money, and in our name. These are terrible, dark truths we must face as a people. If you are a person of any privilege, you are in a better position to be visible and vocal, without harsh consequences.
Want to do something? Act.
Call your representatives, join community, empower yourself and others – and march. Start talking with one another and take a stand. Be visible. Be vocal. And if you haven’t become involved, please ask yourself why. If not now, when?
I will not comply with what is happening on the border. Things have gone terribly wrong when children are being imprisoned in cages. I will not stand idly by and wait for our government to end this at their leisure. Those detention camps on the border must be shut down. Never again is now.
Please join the Jewish Activists of Maine and others in the Never Again is Now movement. Look for quickly unfolding event details about our next march, scheduled for First Friday Art Walk on August 2nd. If you’d like more information, please contact merrillWEN@gmail.com.
Merrill is an activist, artist, journalist and community organizer.