At Heritage Camp a few weeks ago my son, Jac, and I both, independently, took a class that really rocked our worlds. I’ve taken these types of classes at camp before (about growing up brown in the US, or having your child grow up brown in the US) but Jac had never experienced one of these types of classes.
This particular class was entitled UndocuCulture and Civil Liberties: How to understand it, talk about it, and your place in it and around it. It was basically a ‘Know Your Rights’ seminar. The presenter was a community activist and currently works at the ACLU as a Campaign Coordinator.
Camp was amazing, as always. We learned so much, made new friends, created connections with people from all walks of life and from all over the world. Jac and I connected on a whole new level and most importantly, we got to relax, have fun, and feel safe knowing there were 140 other families just like ours all over the YMCA of the Rockies!
But … the seminar I mentioned above has occupied our thoughts, more than I’d like to admit. Here is the write up about the seminar: “Let’s unpack the ins and outs of growing up with dual identity together and learn some protections you should know for your brown or black presenting child. In this session we will go over some basic know your rights training. We will give you tools on how to help build your child’s identity and how to guide them through reconciling both identities in the US. Our hope is that you leave the training feeling confident sharing in your child’s culture while allowing them space to build their own identity around it while feeling self-assured that you can protect your child from the harmful current rhetoric of this world”. 
That last sentence was a huge wake up for me, “… while feeling self-assured that you can protect your child from the harmful current rhetoric of this world”. It’s ugly out there right now folks, and many of us have brown or black kids.
Did you read the article about the 17 year old, Dallas born, US citizen that was picked up by ICE and held for 23 days? You can read about it here if you’d like: Dallas boy held for 23 days in ICE detention. He has since been released but he was unable to talk to his parents for several days and did not get a shower for 23 days. You can read the follow up story here: No shower for 23 days.
I’m not trying to scare you, but I feel like now, more than ever, it’s important for me to be brutally honest. I’m scared. My son is scared. When legal US citizens are held for 23 days in ICE detention, it’s scary.
Do you know your rights? How about your child? Does he or she know their rights? We need to be talking about this with our children, no matter how safe we feel in our community. I mean we live in Boulder, CO – it’s a sanctuary city for goodness sakes, but Jac is brown and the reality is, he stands out in homogenous Boulder, CO. And sadly, times are changing and racial profiling is real – which means we have to be aware and prepared. 
So it brings me to the point of this newsletter, Know Your Rights:
I’ve been stopped by police or ICE
How to reduce risk to yourself:

  • Stay calm and do not resist or obstruct the agents or officers.
  • Do not lie or give false documents.
  • Prepare yourself and your family in case you are arrested. Memorize the phone numbers of your family and your lawyer. Make emergency plans if you have children or take medication.

Your rights:

  • You have the right to remain silent. If you wish to exercise that right, say so out loud. (In some states, you may be required to provide your name if asked to identify yourself.)
  • You do not have to consent to a search of yourself or your belongings, but police may pat down your clothing if they suspect a weapon.
  • If you are arrested by police, you have the right to a government-appointed lawyer.
  • If you are detained by ICE, you have the right to consult with a lawyer, but the government is not required to provide one for you. You can ask for a list of free or low-cost alternatives.
  • You do not have to answer questions about where you were born, whether you are a U.S. citizen, or how you entered the country. (Separate rules apply at international borders and airports, and for individuals on certain nonimmigrant visas, including tourists and business travelers.)

What to do if you are arrested or detained:

  • Say you wish to remain silent and ask for a lawyer (or your parents if you are a minor) immediately. Don’t give any explanations or excuses. Don’t say anything, sign anything, or make any decisions without a lawyer or your parents.
  • If you have been arrested by police, you have the right to make a local phone call. The police cannot listen if you call a lawyer.
  • If you have been detained by ICE, you have the right to contact your consulate or have an officer inform the consulate of your detention.
  • Keep a copy of your immigration documents with someone you trust.
  • If you are a legal citizen: Carry a copy of your Passport ID Card.

If you believe your rights were violated:

  • Write down everything you remember, including officers’ badges and patrol car numbers, which agency the officers were from, and any other details. Get contact information for witnesses.
  • If you’re injured, seek medical attention immediately and take photographs of your injuries.
  • File a written complaint with the agency’s internal affairs division or civilian complaint board. In most cases, you can file a complaint anonymously if you wish.

I know, this blog post is NOT fun to read, but it’s important that we, and our children, know our rights. Fortunately, our children live under our umbrella of privilege while they are in our care, but when they leave the nest; the world may not be as kind as we’d hoped.
If you are scared too, reach out. I’d love to talk. If you are struggling with these issues or any issues with regard to your child’s identity development, I’d be happy to set up a session with you. As a Certified Professional Coach, mother of two adopted children, and writer/speaker about adoption issues, I am uniquely prepared to help. You can set up a free 30 Minute Discovery Session at this link and we’ll take it from there.

My best to all of you,

Bambi Wineland is the mother of two internationally adopted children, a writer, a traveler, a Certified Professional Coach, and the Founder and CEO of Motherland Travel. Motherland Travel began by designing Heritage Journeys for families with internationally adopted children. The emphasis of those Heritage Journeys has always been on deepening family connections, building self-esteem and cultivating pride in a family’s multi-cultural heritage. Motherland Travel also uses the philosophies of transformative Travel for designing family trips with purpose – building rich connections, with each other and the world! Read more about her here >>

Pin It on Pinterest