Yolande Robbins: Indefensible, wrong & dishonest

Published 8:11 pm Friday, July 12, 2019

By: Yolande Robbins

Our actions against children on the southern border are indefensible. No child should ever be weaponized in a war among adults. No child’s well-being should ever be used or compromised in this way. But as categorical and unyielding as this title seems, what is happening there is indefensible on all counts.

It is wrong to hurt children; to demean and diminish them by keeping them hungry and cold; by sexually abusing them; by separating them from their families over long periods of time; by keeping lights on all day and all night so they cannot tell one from the other; and by living in squalor and sickness.

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Who among us would say this is right? Then why do we not say it’s wrong?

Politically and economically as well, this is wrong. It is unsound. It is certain to create a generations-long enmity between those who won’t abide others coming here and those who won’t abandon coming. We will live in a long and paralyzing disorder of our politics and economies as well.

In the 20th century, not two decades past yet, we have memory of massacres like Katyn by the Russians, Dachau by the Germans, and the image of a young Chinese man standing alone against tanks in Tiananmen Square. Now we have the image of a father and daughter drowning in their effort to get to the United States.

And walls to keep them out. 

Once, in Birmingham, there was a protest that included small children. They were intentionally part of that protest. And as the cops with dogs and fire hoses awaited them, this little girl called out to her friend, “Hurry up Lucille. If you stay behind, you won’t get arrested with our group.”

She was ready in a way we are not. But we need to echo her example today. We need to demand of people with power that this cruelty to children will stop. We need to let every local know he or she will lose their job in the very next election if they don’t speak for these children. They will lose if they don’t speak out. We will vote them out.

It doesn’t matter that we are here and the children are in Texas or Arizona. I want people here to speak out. I want my people to speak out. I want to hear my state. I want to hear my city and the people at my church. I want to hear my newspaper. We have lagged too long and too often. It’s time to be like that Birmingham child. It’s time to “get arrested”.

So much of our history and our own identity is relevant in this matter. And when a reporter was recently asked why this was happening to these children, he said, “because they’re not white.” It wouldn’t happen, he said, if they were white.

Today’s condition of these children is happening because we allow it.

So staying silent and still is morally indefensible, wrong, and intellectually dishonest.

And we will pay for that.

Yolande Robbins is a community columnist for The Vicksburg Post.