Show Up for Black and Brown Kids

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TW: racism, murder, police brutality, family separation, sexual assault and abuse.

Amid this week’s wave of protests across the country for Black Lives Matter, we’re left remembering the anniversaries of Emmett Till’s and Elijah McClain’s deaths, both falling in the same week. These weekly traumas from systemic failures that are carried out by law enforcement groups blatantly show us — they don’t care about Black and Brown youth. The question isn’t only “how do we handle this?” but it’s also “how do our kids cope, let alone understand, this?”

As it is, POC folx are predisposed to many health issues, including intergenerational trauma. But to even begin to heal, we must become aware of our history to understand our current systems of oppression. To heal, we need to do these things together and piece ourselves, our children and our community together.

Black Lives Matter

Emmett Till would still be alive today. This week in 1955, Emmett was accused of whistling at a white woman— who is still alive today, btw— at a grocery store in Money, Mississippi. A few days later, Emmett faced a pair of angry white men who brutally murdered him. At 14 years old. Let us remind you, the woman who accused Emmett waited over 60 years to tell the truth. The system that should have protected this child, failed Emmett and let him die.

Elijah McClain would also be alive today. On this week in August of last year, a call came into the Aurora Police Department reporting a “suspicious person in a ski mask.” Elijah was just walking home from a convenience store for a cold iced tea for his brother, when he was approached by three police officers. In those 15 minutes, Elijah was accused of “resisting arrest” and placed in a chokehold that ultimately ended his life. Even as the state of Colorado has mandated body cameras and ban chokeholds by cops, Elija’s parents have filed a federal lawsuit against Aurora police officers and the paramedics involved in his death. The lawsuit demands accountability “for the profound loss of a beautiful soul,” and sends “a resounding message that racism and brutality have no place in American law enforcement.”

Right now, we’re in the midst of yet another brutality at the hands of police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Jacob Blake is still in the hospital after being shot in the back seven times. While Blake’s father said that his son Jacob is now paralyzed from the waist down, the Blake family will forever live with the trauma of this moment. Jacob’s three kids, sat in the backseat and witnessed their father being shot.

Not only will the Till family, McClain family, Blake Family and and who has lost a family member will forever live this trauma, they will go on with no access or resources for their healing.

Brown Lives Matter

Right now, there are hundreds of children in concentration camps (oh, we mean detention centers). There are hundreds more being kept in hotel rooms across the country. Not only have they travelled thousands of miles to find solace away from the violence in their own country, they go through another series of traumas that come from poor conditions and mistreatments within their confinements.

Through travelling the long treacherous route to safety, many kids are separated from their groups or caregivers. Last year alone, over 200 kids were separated once they reached the border. In reflecting on our own lives, many of us can clearly remember when we were younger, momentarily losing our parents in the grocery store or in public. Even though that was long ago, it’s a traumatic memory — and that’s just the case for migrant children.

Just last year there were six children who died in immigration custody, including Felipe Gomez Alonzo,8, Jakeline Caal Maquin,7, and Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez,16. Today, countless reports about horrendous conditions including overcrowding, extremely cold temperatures, inadequate or nonexistent health care experienced within the centers in neighboring states of Arizona and Texas. In addition to poor conditions, over four thousand cases of sexual abuse from women and children within detention centers in the last four years.

Right to [whose] Life?

While organizations all over the country and state — *cough*, Alliance for Life, New Mexico Right to Life Committee, Family Police Alliance *cough* — say they care about “all lives”, it seems that they care about control. Through abortion bans, birth control restrictions and defunding our access to reproductive health resources, there is an obvious passion for power and control over womxn’s bodies.

But wait! It doesn’t stop there. After right to life groups and lawmakers make it nearly impossible for you to make any decisions about your body, don’t look to them for any assistance at all.

Our point? We’d love to know whose kids they cherish. Don’t worry, we’ll wait.

Show up.

The truth is that while we can always uplift ways to donate and demand justice and highlight a Community Healing Guide, we need to build up our minds and our communities as well. We can find ways of protecting each other through grassroots programs like community fridges, gardens and pantries. We can arm ourselves with knowing our rights and make sure our kids know theirs.

Talk to your kids about race and racism. We must teach our children that these systems set in place do a lot of harm. Hug your children and explain to them that no one is illegal so long as we all live on this earth.

We must teach them, and believe ourselves, that when we say voting can really change things, that we all have to come together and work to make real changes. (And make sure that you’re registered and active in voting!)

Keep taking your pain and your passion to the streets and commit yourself to anti-racist work. Continue to demand justice for every life not lived fully and every life held in captivity, but take time to breathe and practice mindfulness.

Most of all, make sure to be kind, patient and empower our children, because we do care about their futures.


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Executive Director 

Marianna Anaya

Deputy Director 

Lucas Herndon

Energy and Policy Director 

Josette Arvizu

Communications Director 

Jackie Aguirre

Communications Specialist 

Edgar Cruz

Communications Specialist 

Alissa Barnes :: Executive Director
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you should know

Alissa Barnes is Executive Director at ProgessNow New Mexico where she leads a team that works on message development, issue and voter education, and amplification of progressive messages and values. She leads the organization in strategy development, fundraising, and organizational growth and sustainability.

Alissa’s background includes nearly 12 years at Roadrunner Food Bank where Alissa led the development and creation of multiple programs that are now national models, invested in community building and collaborations, and worked closely with elected officials, educating about hunger and why policies would either benefit or hurt clients in food lines. She has a BA from the University of New Mexico and various non-profit certifications.
  • If she followed her childhood dream, she would be a Broadway tap dancing star
  • Has seen Frozen 1 and 2 over 100 times
  • Loves heavy metal concerts
Marianna Anaya :: Deputy Director
just the facts

you should know

Marianna oversees strategic messaging and creative implementation tactics for issue-based and political campaigns. She leads the team’s digital and earned media programs, bringing a New Mexico values-based approach to her work. 

Marianna’s background includes race and ethnic studies in education as a focus at UT Austin and UCLA, political campaign work, staffing former Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham as well as leading organizing and communications work for the Albuquerque Teachers Federation.

  • She currently serves as the Board President of Emerge NM. 
  • Her hobbies include getting more women, queer folks and BIPOC elected to office.
  • She has three cuddle-worthy dogs at home
Lucas Herndon :: Energy and Policy Director
just the facts

you should know

Lucas’ focus is on all things energy and environment, election integrity projects and general messaging strategy. He is often the front facing voice for PNNM when it comes to issues surrounding methane, renewable energy, oil industry accountability, and public lands issues. 

Lucas has an extensive background in public lands and solar energy. He was instrumental in the creation of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in 2014 and has participated in every local election since 2012 through phone banking, online organizing, and poll watching. Lucas is a lifelong resident of Las Cruces where he has served in various capacities of leadership including as President of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce, District Director for the Dona Ana County Democratic Party, and attending and completing the inaugural classes of the Las Cruces Neighborhood Leadership Academy and the Las Cruces Tree Stewards. 

  • Owned a tattoo shop called Omega Tattoo & Supply 
  • Once got a chin bump “what’s up” from James Harden on an airplane when Harden saw Lucas’ beard 
  • Has a minor in Medieval and Early Modern History
Josette Arvizu :: Communications Director
just the facts

you should know

Josette Arvizu is the Communications Director at ProgressNow New Mexico where she oversees the development and implementation of systems that further the external and internal communications of the organization.

Josette’s background in marketing includes copywriting, paid media, SEO and content strategy for businesses and nonprofits, including convention and visitor bureaus from Bermuda to Anaheim. She began her career teaching writing to college students while in New Mexico State University’s MFA in creative writing program. Her previous work promoting diversity and inclusion includes coordination of writing and traditional arts workshops for Native American youth at the Tucson Indian Center.
  • Is a cat mom to an obstinate orange tabby named Quasimodo and a restless grey cat named Squirrel
  • Hasn’t heard a pun she didn’t like
  • Minored in dance in college and is an avid follower of ballet on Instagram
Jackie Aguirre :: Communications Specialist
just the facts

you should know

Jackie’s focus is on graphics and social media marketing that promote progressive issues across our state. 

Jackie’s background includes work in the Reproductive Justice space focusing on Latinx, Chicanx and Mexican-American communities.

  • She is a co-owner of a community art gallery celebrating BIPOC artists
  • She is a long-time volunteer for Planned Parenthood and works with college students to provide condoms/dental dams, menstrual products & other resources
  • She is a part of a group of women who love craft beer and hosts monthly beer shares with beer from all over the country
Edgar Cruz :: Communications Specialist
just the facts

you should know

Edgar Cruz is a Communications Specialist at ProgressNow New Mexico where he focuses on video creation and research that promotes progressive issues across our state.

Edgar has a background producing multimedia initiatives. With over five years of radio production experience, he is a movement agent who believes in exploring all avenues of media to inform and engage community.

  • Is a host of Espejos de Aztlan on KUNM
  • Is a member of Generation Justice
  • First discovered his passion for organizing as a high school student after joining the Youth Alliance in 2009