September 20, 2012
The butterfly is a symbol of freedom as old as the glyphs in Cesar Maxit's "Migrant" poster.
It became the symbol of our tour organically, naturally. As we travelled, it kept showing up in new ways. In Memphis we received a care package from Juliana in Phoenix with butterfly pins for each of us to wear, next to our hearts, for strength, even when we were carted off to jail.
When we confronted Kris Kobach in Birmingham, we released real butterflies with us. We demanded our inclusion at a hearing about us and we shamed him with our presence and overshadowed him with our testimony.
We embraced it from the beginning. When Deejay Portugal brought his sketchbook to make-over Priscilla, the 1972 bus that arrived in Phoenix and would become our home for the next six weeks, we all rolled up our sleeves to transform her just like a catepillar becoming a monarch.
Like our community, the monarch is strong, beautiful and determined.
Deejay explained, it is one of the greatest migrants on the planet. It takes one generation of monarchs to fly from north to south but takes them about five generations to fly from south to north.
They have been migrating for thousands of years. They where here when our ancestors used to migrate freely and are still with us today even though now we have borders, politicians' prejudice, the poli-migra, and prisons dividing us.
We embraced it as our symbol not just as a migrant but for its transformation. At every stop, every city, every town, a lot of people heard and talked about ‘’the bus that says sin papeles y sin miedo on one side and on the other no papers no fear and its full of undocumented people."
As we set out to change the world, each of us were changed ourselves. We had to lose our fear. To take control of our destiny we had to embark on a hard path. We had to learn from each other, build community with each other, and trace the steps of those who have come before us fighting for freedom. As individuals and as a community, we took steps to fly free like the monarch; free from fear, free from intimidation.
The power we found in the symbol of the monarch is one that we think is universal. It does not belong to us, it belongs to all of us. And it becomes more powerful as more communities embrace it.
We invite migrant rights groups globally to adopt it as our symbol; of freedom, of grace, of the right to migrate.
And we ask that artists continue to create new ways to express our struggle with the butterfly at the center. But like those artists who have contributed so far and as we risked everything on the ride for no personal gain, let us lift up and unite under this common symbol to win everything for everyone and nothing for ourselves.
The Ride for Justice is what gave us wings but it is upon returning home that we're beginning to take flight. Leading efforts to turn back SB1070 in Arizona, pushing against the polimigra, and strengthening our own communities to celebrate the power we hold within.