Elections are inherently divisive, with deep contention portending for November, but ruptured personal relationships aren’t a predestined outcome of differing political views. While the ballot box garners attention, groundwork for unification starts in local communities. This concept was reinforced during an engaging recent discussion with a University of Illinois student working to create a campus integration movement.
Although our discussion focused initially on her pursuit of a leadership certificate at the Urbana-Champaign campus and my role as her coach in that endeavor, it was quickly clear that our pairing has a broader purpose. Whoever created the partnership saw past age and ethnicity differences to focus on what matters most; common interests.
The increasing political segregation of our nation and risks associated with this division inspired my first two novels. Having identified potential solutions to these problems, I had thoughts to share. She also imparted her experiences and insights—highlighting safety, inclusion and opportunity concerns based on obstacles in daily life, and compounded by a “Build the Wall” rally held by one candidate’s supporters outside La Casa cultural house and other venues frequented by Latino/a students.
Several integration movement paths forward that don’t need to wait for November are evident, including many highlighted in Brandeis University Professor Susan Eaton’s book: Integration Nation: Immigrants, Refugees, and America at its Best. [Continue reading]