Holly Richardson: We can’t let hate drive us to hopelessness

This young woman cries while standing outside the Koch Foods Inc., plant as U.S. immigration officials raid the plant in Morton, Miss., Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019. U.S. immigration officials raided several Mississippi food processing plants on Wednesday and signaled that the early-morning strikes were part of a large-scale operation targeting owners as well as employees. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

“Terrible things are happening outside. At any time of night and day, poor helpless people are being dragged out of their homes…Families are torn apart: men, women and children are separated. Children come home from school to find their parents have disappeared.”

Sound familiar?

Or, maybe you saw the picture of Magdalena Gomez Gregorio sobbing and asking for her dad or heard about the ICE official who noted “this is just business as usual” or the one who said “We are a law enforcement agency, not a social services agency” when asked about leaving children parentless.

However, rather than coming from this week’s news reports on the 680 people rounded up in Mississippi, on their children’s first day of school, the above quote was actually written by Anne Frank on Jan 13, 1943. That should, at the very least, be a sobering indicator of where we are as a nation.

The ICE raid spread across seven locations came literally on the heels of the deadliest attack on Latinx people in recent history, where a white supremacist drove hundreds of miles specifically so he could kill Latinx shoppers who he claimed were “invading” Texas. (And yes, we’ve heard that rhetoric many times.)

Chris Grant, who was himself shot when he started throwing soda bottles at the killer, said that the shooter was purposely targeting Latinx while bypassing “whites and African Americans” who were back-to-school shopping at a local Walmart. Two of the almost two dozen people who died were Jordan Anchondo, who died protecting her 2-month-old baby and her husband Andre Anchondo, who died trying to protect his wife and infant son. They leave behind two other children as well, orphaned by hate.

And the El Paso shooting wasn’t the only mass shooting of the weekend. We might as well leave the flags at half-staff permanently. (Read Meg Walter’s searing “Open Letter to Our Politicians” begging them to take action. We need so much more than “thoughts and prayers.”)

I am not the only one who feels ragey, weepy, helpless and hopeless at man’s growing inhumanity to man, at mass shootings and mass round-ups, at parents killing their kids and men killing the women in their lives. It’s enough to make me want to curl up in a ball on pull the covers over my head.

So what it is to be done?

My friend Meg Conley notes on Twitter that “There are 14,274 LDS congregations in the U.S. Let’s assume that 3 congregations meet in each LDS church building. That gives us 4,758 buildings, 4,758 possible safe havens for undocumented immigrants.”

She may be on to something. The mayor of Jackson, Miss., has called on churches in the city to provide safe havens and Thursday, dozens of church and civil rights leaders gathered to speak out against the dehumanizing raids. Jason Cocker, field coordinator for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship said: ”These raids should be appalling and reprehensible to all Christians.”

Brian Sage, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi, said, "What happened (Wednesday) was horrifying.”

Assuming, however, that President Nelson won’t be sending out letters to all congregations this week, there is still more that we can do.

We can educate ourselves and those around us. We can become more politically active — yes, elections have consequences and we the people can affect them. Speak up. Speak out. Write letters to your representatives and to the editor. Join an organization — or five — that helps in ways you want to help. Put your money and your time into causes that matter. Go to law school. Find like-minded people with whom you can strategize, prepare and then take action.

And take time for your own mental health. Secondary trauma and compassion fatigue are real things. Create something. Head up one of the canyons. Journal. Cry. Sleep. Take a break. But please come back and rejoin the fight. There are so many problems in this world that could be solved if we all worked together.

| Courtesy Holly Richardson, op-ed mug.

Holly Richardson, a regular contributor to The Salt Lake Tribune, has never been arrested. But if she ever is, she suspects it will be for protesting cruel immigration policies.