Watching the coverage at the border last night was heart wrenching. Seeing seasoned journalists breaking down in tears while live, on the air, was something I've only seen once.
All images are from my work with the Tibetan community, details are at the bottom of this post.
I’ve been curating the news, as a former photojournalist and news hound, for 2 decades now. Only one other time have I seen this level of emotion while reporting and that was 9/11.
Tears began flowing when the story broke that the government is operating 3 “tender age” shelters with another one about to be created.
Read that again..."tender age” shelters. Baby jails. Toddler internment camps. Infant prisons.
What the fuck? I don’t care what your politics are or who you endorse, if you believe that we, as a country, should be locking up babies without their caregivers in jails, you are fucking wrong.
As human beings sharing this planet with one another, it is our duty to look after those who are in peril, fleeing unspeakable violence and those who have no voice. And when it happens on our soil, and our government endorses, encourages and celebrates it-- we must take a stand.
Protest. Call senators. March. Strike. Shut it all the fuck down until we stop locking babies up in jails.
I’m not saying this type of abuse isn’t new to this country. We’ve historically removed babies and children from parents forcibly with Native Americans, African Americans during slavery and more. Grab a copy of Zinn's People's History of the United States, get a strong adult beverage and disregard everything you learned in your high school civics and history classes.
I’m saying that in 2018, we’re better than this. We’re better than the racist white nationalists who are committing these crimes against humanity. We are better than the dictatorships that 45 celebrates.
We are better than this. Period. Not as Americans-- as humans.
We must be. If we’re not, if this is who we are and what we’ve become, then yes, the hysteria is spot on. This is Nazi Germany circa 2018. And we’re not at the beginning, we’re rapidly approaching the middle.
We are living in a time where a large populations of our country endorse the abusing children because they’re brown. We are living in a country where large populations believe that police shooting African Americans in large numbers is acceptable. We are living in a time where women are being abused, harassed and denigrated in massive numbers.
And large populations of the country think this is OK. Massive amounts of people, dare I say millions, think that killing non-white people, putting babies in jails, treating women as less than and allowing the poor and voiceless to simply fade into the background is acceptable.
We’re living through a time that tests our individual humanity and our collective sanity. We’re living through a time where a once beacon of hope and opportunity has become a country that abuses, destroys and kills as sport, policy and for political gain.
The way we, as individuals and as a collective, respond to placing babies in prisons will define our history. Our response will seal our fate. And while I’m mostly an optimist, I’m not confident in a positive outcome.
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. Desmond Tutu
Please follow the links in this article and do your own research regarding this issue. I've curated perspectives I see as valuable to support my outrage and I base this curation on my years as a documentarian, a journalist, a student of political science and media agenda setting theory. I've documented the impacts of trauma on children of displaced populations and post war communities. The outcome of childhood trauma from war and separation is real and devastating. I'm not telling you what to think here, again, do your own digging. I'm sharing my outrage because I needed to-- as a human with a platform. And I simply ask these questions as one woke human to another.
These images are from my documentary work on Tibetan Exile populations in India and Nepal several years back. The Tibetan Government in Exile provides an orphanage for their children who made the trek from Tibet, through Nepal and into Dharmsala, India. These children were sent over thousands of miles through treacherous terrain with friends, family or strangers in order to avoid persecution from China. Very few parents make the journey into exile with their children, usually do to a lack of monetary resources or because the rest of the family left behind will be punished if the parents flee. The Tibetan Exile community provides massive support system for these children when they arrive and help them grow and prosper, without their parents.