OMAK – Keynote speaker Enrique Morones, founder of the non-profit Border Angels, promoted fighting racism with love at the Stand Against Racism event hosted by Wenatchee Valley College-Omak and the YWCA, Wednesday, following opening remarks from Colville Business Council members Richard Moses and Margie Hutchinson, City of Omak mayor Cindy Gagné and Chio Flores, WVC Vice-President of Student Services.
“The Border Angels believe love has no borders,” said Morones. “When we go out to do our work, we don’t ask the person where they’re from or if they have papers or not, because it’s a human being we’re trying to save, one person at a time … We’re telling people it’s very important that you practice love, that you do that little bit you can in your community.”
Border Angels began in 1986 to give humanitarian assistance to migrants around San Diego. Later, the group began placing bottled water in remote places in the desert along the U.S.-Mexico border for migrants.
“We have to remember a lot of people are looking at what is taking place, especially our children,” said Morones. “I’m always blown away when I speak to young children, whether at grammar school or even kindergarten, what they have witnessed … They see everything. They feel it.”
Associated Students of WVC at Omak president Adrian Carillo worked as emcee for the event.
“Racism, I’ve always taken a different approach,” said Hutchinson. “I’ve spent a lifetime trying to get along in the community, trying to behave properly and joining all committees, locally, nationally and statewide. I think it is very important to educate people on who we are and what we stand for.”
Stand Against Racism is a national campaign from the YWCA to address racial issues and racism across the country through community demonstrations and discussions. In the campaigns’ 13th year, this year, the campaign is themed around immigration: “Immigration: No hate. No fear. Immigrant justice is racial justice.”
“Being of color, [racism] is something we deal with, something we have to live with day in and day out,” said Moses. “It’s systematic. It’s inherited … Racism is a touchy subject, because it’s still here. We still see it every day. The best way we can deal with it is what we’re doing now. We stand up. We’re actually standing up. We’re fighting it.”
In his speech, Morones referenced the incident in Washington D.C. between Omaha tribal elder Nathan Phillips and Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School.
“The Native American stood firm with his drum and his song of peace,” said Morones. “That’s what we need to do. We need to sing that song of peace as well in our actions, not just in our words. Most people are good and want to d the right thing. There are good people on both sides of the aisle and we need to stand up. We need to stand up and have a conscience.”
YWCA expects more than 500 different Stand Against Racism events across the country, this week, with 11 in Washington, according to YWCA North Central Washington Deputy Director Alyssa Martinez.
The Omak City Council read into the record a proclamation in support of the Stand Against Racism campaign, April 15, Gagné told the crowd gathered.
“It is important to mention how powerful of a message you have and how valuable education, outreach and being together here today is,” said Cagné. “I don’t watch much television, because I work, but recently I had a vacation and I watched the end of one of the talk shows. The host said simply, ‘Treat each other kindly.’ Could it be that simple? I wish it could be that simple.”
Following the opening discussion, WVC faculty member Kestrel Smith spoke for an hour on American Indian Indigenous Studies in education systems.