More Than Words: All Are Welcome Here!

Dear SEEN Community,

When the Saratoga Springs community came together in response to the Immigration & Customs Enforcement raids under the direction of former President Donald Trump in Summer 2017, the Saratoga Immigration Coalition and MLK Saratoga united under the statement “All Are Welcome Here.”

Today, Saratoga Educational Equity Network (SEEN) joins them to say that “All Are Welcome Here” is not just a sign, but also a system of actions and a commitment to Saratoga as a welcoming and inclusive community. We denounce the hateful, xenophobic vitriol permeating our community.

We Say it Again: All Are Welcome Here. 

In a telling example of the divergence from this message, and the devolving public discourse in our democracy, Natalya Lakhtakia, a sitting Trustee on the Saratoga Springs City School District Board of Education and candidate up for re-election, was called an “anchor baby,” a slur that first and foremost devalues her life and humanity and that of her parents. Such comments, and the sites and Facebook pages that provide a public platform for them, degrade Saratoga Springs. This attack did not address her vision for our school district or student experience, but attempted to invalidate her as a part of our community and nation, and it sought to silence her voice. 

Nearly 7.5 % of Saratoga Springs residents were born in other countries, according to the U.S. Census. Many are sending children to our schools – some of them are children in our schools – and each and every one is a vital part of our community. Twelve percent of Americans have at least one parent who was born abroad, and they too are a part of our community. Some send children to our schools, some work in them, and still others are learners themselves. 

Each and every person offers a perspective that can enrich our community. 

We call on our community to join us in denouncing this hate speech and its hosts, regardless of how you vote on May 17 (or before, by absentee ballot!). You can also show your support by adding your name to the attached petition.

We call on candidates for the Board of Education to model the behavior they profess to support, and denounce these pages. To disavow community members’ contributions based on where they or their parents were born – or based on assumptions about where they were born – is against the mission of the Saratoga Springs City School District and an affront to our country’s legacy of education. 

We call on our community to join us in standing beside our neighbors. 

We commit to actions in addition to words. 

First we repeat together, ALL ARE WELCOME HERE.

“All Are Welcome Here” started in 2017 as a collaboration between the Saratoga Immigration Coalition (SIC) and MLK Saratoga.

The Saratoga Immigration Coalition includes the Presbyterian-New England Congregational Church, Saratoga Friends Meeting, Saratoga Springs United Methodist Church, Saratoga Unites, Temple Sinai, and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Saratoga Springs. SIC’s vision is “to create a just, welcoming and inclusive community. A community which honors immigrants and aspires to allow everyone to flourish without fear or intimidation.”

MLK Saratoga is a registered 501(c)3 that shares Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision of peace and justice for all, building civil and human rights awareness by promoting inclusivity, diversity, and social justice through our community events and offerings by utilizing Performance, Dialogue, and the Arts as our collective launching point.

~ The SEEN Team

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