Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I could be illegal

I was running late.

It had taken longer than I expected to drive from Goodrich, AZ, to the State Capitol, where I planned to park my car, and take public transportation to the beginning of the rally to protest SB1070. Just as I saw my bus drive by, I saw three cars with people piling out carrying signs -- planning to do the same thing as I.

I asked if they were going to the rally -- yes. Could I have a ride to the train station? Sure! That is when I realized that 4 adults, a child, and a wheelchair were all going into the Vega - plus me. I thanked them profusely, and said I would wait for the next bus, but they were happy to pile all of us into the Vega - "just like college", said David, the driver.

We drive carefully to the train, alternating in Spanish and English. David works in Admissions for Arizona State University, heading an outreach program for k-12. His love for what he does is clear. Saul works at a local Spanish language radio station, producing and presenting a program on basic economics for his community. Katarina is David's sister, wearing a back brace, obviously in pain, but determined to be part of the march. Patricia and her daughter Daniela, part of Katarina's fiance's family, speak only Spanish and may or may not be undocumented. I don't ask.

We are joined by Sergio as we wait for the train. Sergio is undocumented -- "I am giving my best", he says in Spanish. "I work hard and am part of this country." As we board the train, more and more people join on the way to the rally and march. One of the first people I see on the train is Neal, minister from Reno. It is good to see him and the energy he has brought to his new congregation now part of this march. "Ask me for my papers" says one sign: "I'll show you my degree from ASU". Another sign shows three figures in cap and gown furtively crossing the border.

There are hundreds of Unitarian Universalists, including 80 clergy, UUA President Peter Morales, and Moderator Gini Courter. Local members walk among us at the beginning, dispersing muffins, water, and frozen citrus. Water is offered free all along the route. We walk in gold t-shirts, dispersed among several banners proclaiming "Standing on the Side of Love". I walk beside many of the people I know, former interns, congregation members, and ministers, glad to see them all. I fall in next to a woman I don't know, dressed entirely in white, long sleeves and hat nearly covering her dark skin. Together we sing "Marching in the Light of Love" - camina-a-ndo en la luz de Dios... I wonder why we find it easier to sing about God in Spanish. Both of us are delighted that we know the words in three languages. The heat doesn't matter - like little frogs, we started early in the coolness of the desert, and let our temperatures rise with our surroundings as we walk the 5 miles (my iPhone says 6) to the State Capitol.

I wonder how Katarina is doing in her chair. I wonder about Patricia's future. I am grateful to David for including me in his family for that brief connection.

I wear my button "I could be illegal", knowing it is highly unlikely that anyone will ask - ever.