Investigative journalist, Natia Gvazava, recalls her experience after the largest ICE raid in Mississippi earlier this year in August.

After the news broke of the largest ICE raid to date in Mississippi, I began my quest to capture the harsh realities and the aftermath of the lives dissolving into chaos and distractions due to hatred, racism and division within Latin communities. Before I traveled across the country, I encountered a major push back from a grassroots NGO, Adelante Alabama Worker Center, which I hoped would be an ally.

Regardless of one’s ethnic background or political ideology, given the fact that transparency brought by the press is a central pillar of any well-functioning democracy, and is pivotal in calling out corruption and inequality, why wouldn’t it be in the NGO’s best interest to represent the diverse range of voices they are fighting for? As it states in their mission statement: 

We envision a multiracial worker-led movement for justice, dignity and human rights that lifts up the voices of the most vulnerable and excluded workers, and welcomes individuals of all races, ethnicities, genders, ages, sexualities, faiths, and immigration statuses. We strive to move our communities forward (Adelante) to a world where immigrants, people of color, and all working-class families are respected and safe at work, in the streets, and where they live.

This brings into question even after I tried explaining that I was a journalist (who after scraping the last bits of resources to simply help capture the realities of the massive destruction left behind), why I was met with the following statement:

“You’re a privileged white woman who is not a part of our community and doesn’t speak our language, you should not expect any access here, we don’t want your coverage.”

I was later asked to leave the premises. 

As hurtful as the rejection and being judged solely on my physical appearance felt, this manifested the complexities of a much deeper rooted issue: An unmistakable division and unhealed wounds that still dictate the behaviors of those in power who failed to unite and work together for the sake of those which these educated community leaders need most.

Nevertheless, drawing from personal experience as a refugee, in this piece I tried to address what it means to live in a society dealing with the aftermath of globalization’s never-ending cultural conflict and trauma that arises from the actions taken by the government in a society which failed to take responsibility for its shameful past. I hope you, the viewer, will get to learn and see that these people are different than the narrative we hear on T.V.

Written ByNatia Gvazava

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