URL Media Weekly
Friday, December 2, 2022
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 What We're Talking About

A mother and child sit on a bench at a New York City bus stop.
Kenyon Madera Vazquez and his mother, Yulimar Vazquez Rico.

Getting To The US Is Only The Beginning

The morning after Thanksgiving, two buses carrying roughly 80 asylum seekers arrived in Philadelphia from the Texas border. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says he has bused more than 13,000 immigrants from Texas to places like New York City, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia since this past spring.

Peter Pedemonti, co-director and co-founder of the New Sanctuary Movement in Philadelphia, recently told URL Media partner WURD Radio’s Nick Taliaferro that his organization heard rumors leading up to the arrivals about buses coming to the city. They immediately started preparing.

“Our role is to welcome them,” said Pedemonti. “So when people show up, we welcome them with love, we welcome them as brothers and sisters in a dignified and humane way, and I think this has been the central message in this as we now have received four buses.”

But once the immigrants get past the process of arriving, they are often met with barrier after barrier — from working their way through complex shelter systems like those in New York City to the constant threat of becoming unhoused as reported by URL Media partner Documented.

“I don’t know how I am still alive,” Karla, who migrated from the Ivory Coast more than 30 years ago, said. “I should have been dead twice.”

For children, the experience can be even more difficult — navigating life in a new city in an unfamiliar language while carrying the trauma of their journeys.

“One of my classmates doesn’t speak English either,” Kenyon Madera Vazquez told URL Media partner Documented. “And we have to tell a friend to translate for us. Because if not, we won’t understand and we won’t be able to do what the teacher told us to.”

Kenyon and his mother, Yulimar Vazquez Rico, traveled across seven countries and spent ten days in the perilous Darién Gap. He spent his 11th birthday in the jungle as the pair migrated from Venezuela.

“I don’t like to think about it a lot, because it was horrible for me,” he said.

They currently live in a city shelter, and Vazquez Rico has not yet been able to obtain work authorization, steady employment or a lawyer for her immigration case — putting them at risk of continued homelessness.

As for those who remain in ICE facilities in the states where they crossed, they continue to suffer inhumane conditions.

In New Mexico, a group of asylum seekers held at the Torrance County Detention Center were abruptly transferred for deportation in mid-October after staging a hunger strike to protest conditions at the facility, URL Media partner Prism reports(CW: The above linked article contains descriptions of attempted suicide, abuse, and violence.)

At the Cibola County Correctional Center, just two hours away, advocates say about 20 people held at the facility have been on a hunger strike since one asylum seeker attempted to take their life.

“We saved someone’s life this time, but what about tomorrow when something worse happens?” Juan, a 26-year-old asylum-seeker from Colombia, who is an organizer of the hunger strike, told Prism.

I want to close this essay with a statement from Pedemonti’s interview that has stuck with me since I first heard it because it’s important that we not only recognize but actively work to dismantle systems of oppression.

“Immigration is not a problem with immigration, it’s a problem of white supremacy and wanting to keep the country white, and so as a white person, I have a responsibility to work on that.” —Alicia Ramirez

Uplift. Respect. Love.

How to learn and lead calmly through volatile times
Sponsored by McKinsey & Company

Deliberate Calm is a personal toolkit to help leaders change and adapt when it’s the most important and hardest.” Three McKinsey veterans explain how.

Uplifting our Communities

Latin American migrants use Tiktok to share their journeys to the U.S. border: With more than 1.3 billion users worldwide, TikTok has become the platform where migrants — particularly from Venezuela, Cuba, México, and other Latin American and Caribbean countries — share videos of their journeys to warn people of the obstacles they encounter, provide information about the routes they took, and depict the challenges faced by asylum seekers once they cross the U.S. border. Documented has the full story here.

A cartoon strip with one eye.

Sentenced to trauma: Inside the volatility and disorder of prison: A growing number of studies have shown that incarceration damages the mental health of those who endure it, and as a result, they suffer from debilitating symptoms. However, for the average person, it can be difficult to sympathize with prisoners as victims and consider their imprisonment traumatizing. Read more about traumas caused by incarceration in this first-person account from Scalawag.

A man wearing a dark blue suit stands in front of a government building.

Black people in Scott County, Minn. live an average of 89.7 years. Researchers want to know why: Putnam County, New York. Warrick County, Indiana. Scott County, Minnesota. Black people live longer in these three places than almost anywhere else in the country, according to new research by the Brookings Institution and the NAACP. Sahan Journal went to Scott County to find out what residents had to say about living there. Read the full story here.

Bill to Safeguard Tribal Objects Of Patrimony (STOP) Act passes Senate: On the evening before the beginning of the White House Tribal Nations Summit, the U.S. Senate passed H.R. 2930, the Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony (STOP) Act of 2021 to prevent the export of Native American cultural heritage from being exported and sold overseas. Read more from Native News Online.

Edited photo with a woman who has short white hair on one side, and words on the other side.

Aging with purpose and redefining strength for Black women: Our Body Politic revisits an episode from its archives featuring a conversation between host Farai Chideya and Betty Reid Soskin, the author of “Sign My Name to Freedom,” who retired at age 100 from her work as a National Park Ranger and community historian. 🎧 Listen to the full episode here.

An empty street with lane sign stop bus in front of a sunset.

Is a lack of transportation holding Detroiters back?: Using public transportation in Detroit can take residents twice as much time as traveling by car, and auto insurance rates put Detroit among the most expensive cities for drivers. Paul Warner, a devoted commuter for three decades and a Detroit Documenter, interviewed several riders this November. Read more from Outlier Media here.

A photo of an Asian woman with long dark hair smiling wearing a shiny pink jacket.

Reproductive justice must recognize adoption as violence: Tiffany HyeonBrooks grew up in Westchester County, outside of New York City, where she was adopted by older parents with two children. Having been dissatisfied with the answers she received about why her parents adopted a child, HyeonBrooks began seeking for answers as an adult. About 10 years ago, HyeonBrooks moved to her native South Korea in search of her birth mother. She describes that experience as the beginning of her “reproductive justice journey.” Read more here from Prism

CW: mentions of sexual assault, forced birth, and family separation.

Reducing youth gun violence in Philadelphia: Earlier this year, Zachariah Owen Julye, 19, was fatally shot after attending a party at an Airbnb with his five friends. The late teen's father, Kent Julye, spoke with Andrea Lawful-Sanders about his son’s untimely death and the importance of reducing gun violence among youth in Philadelphia. 🎧 Listen to the full interview from WURD Radio here.


Respecting & Honoring Arts & Culture

A variety of food set on a bright white and pink patterned table cloth.

Food, community and resistance: Guillermina Gina Núñez-Mchiri knew it was important for her first cookbook to be rooted in the experiences of those making the food, including immigrants and people living along the southern border. The book, tentatively titled “Border Foodways: Culture, Care, and Community Building on the U.S.-Mexico Border,” features history, recipes and the value of ingredients used regionally across borders. palabra. has the full story here

A watercolor painting of a Black woman with a red and white headscarf and flowy white blouse.

Tante Toya: Haiti’s own ‘Woman King’ who trained Dessalines: For another edition of her Sheroes book tour, Haitian historian Bayyinah Bello visited Brooklyn, New York. She discussed “The Woman King,” a recent film about an all-woman army starring Viola Davis, and how it is similar to Haiti’s fierce female warrior, Agbaraya Toya — also known as Tante Toya of Gran Toya. 🇭🇹 The Haitian Times has the full story here.

Centering Love

Two people pick up trash while pushing a large cart on a New York City street.

How to be a good neighbor: Tips from Clean Up Crown Heights: Have you ever wanted to do something to improve your neighborhood, but didn’t quite know where to begin? Finding friends in a new place isn't always easy, but what if you could meet people while caring for your neighborhood? Epicenter-NYC talks with volunteers for Clean Up Crown Heights, an organization focused on keeping neighborhood streets clean. Read the full story here.

What We're Loving This Week From Our Partners

Two unlocked keys and one larger, locked key.

She changed the state of death row in this country: More than 20 years ago, Susan Kigula woke up with a sharp pain in her neck and her husband bleeding to death after their home in Uganda was burglarized. In the wake of the tragedy, Kigula was accused of murder and sentenced to death. The case she brought and her struggle against her sentence led Uganda to change its death penalty laws. Read more here from PushBlack.

URL Media Events

Let’s Talk Careers: The What’s Next Workshop

On Friday, Dec. 9 at 10 am PT/ 1 pm ET, URL Media will host a virtual workshop for folks at a crossroads in their career — that can mean you are unemployed, were just laid off or in search of a new job, but are worried about how to execute a new job in the current market.

Topics will include: How to think about your resume, how to build a wealth cushion and a portfolio career, securing benefits after severance runs out, what employers are looking for and balancing practical needs with purpose-driven work. Register for the workshop here, and don’t forget to subscribe to our career newsletter!

WURD Radio's 2022 Empowerment Experience

WURD Radio on Dec. 10 for a live cooking demonstration with Chef Chris Scott, author of “Homage: Recipes and Stories from an Amish Soul Kitchen” and Bravo Top Chef finalist, along with Savory & Sweet's Tonya Hopkins during the 2022 Empowerment Experience! Register at this link.

 Our Founders 

Sara Lomax-Reese, CEO of WURD Radio, media entrepreneur for almost 30 years, served as Program Lead for the inaugural Facebook BIPOC Sustainability Accelerator and is currently a JSK Fellow.
S. Mitra Kalita, former SVP at CNN Digital, current CEO & Publisher at Kalita Mukul Creative Inc., which publishes Epicenter-NYC, The Unmuted and The Escape Home, has worked at The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The LA Times, and has launched brands like Mint and Quartz.

 Our Partners 

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