Dear WRL Friends and Family,
I’m Heath Rudd (pronouns they/them/theirs), WRL’s Fall 2019 Bilezikian Intern. Over the past three months, I had the special opportunity to work with WRL to develop a new resource to counter Border Patrol recruitment. As someone who loves interrogating history for the betterment of society, I saw the Bilezikian internship as an opportunity to delve more deeply into research about the history of militarization, imperialism, and surveillance, and appreciated the important leadership opportunities WRL offers to young activists.
Antimilitarism has always been a part of my social justice framework and initially drew me to the idea of working for an organization like WRL. Yet a key factor in my working for WRL was the fact that thanks to the Sara Bilezikian internship, WRL is able to pay their interns. I have participated in fellowships and internships across the U.S. where I was not paid for my labor and instead, relied on the ever infamous promise of “exposure”. I was not worried about the monetary cost of survival when researching Border Patrol’s legacy of violence here at work, which made all the difference in my overall demeanor and motivation to do a quality job every day. In order to thrive in my workspace, it’s so important the work I’m assigned is aligned with my values.
Everyone deserves to know the full scope of what a job in the military entails, and whether this aligns with their values. That’s one reason WRL is producing the Border Patrol Counter Recruitment resource - to bust the myths and false promises of U.S. war recruitment propaganda.
When creating this resource it was important, both to myself and community organizers I spoke with, that we interrogated the reasons people might join Border Patrol, in order to effectively counter-recruit for the organization as a whole. Thus, we spent time delving into what we believe to be at the root of most people’s decision to join: the promise of economic security. As an adult who must work under capitalism, I can certainly empathize with a desire to pay the bills in a timely manner, while doing a job that one might believe creates conditions that make communities safer. The reality, however, is often different: it can be emotionally taxing to police one’s own community, and doing harm to others takes a toll on the body we may not see. While the emotional stress affecting CBP officers can’t compare to the suffering of the tens of thousands of migrants they detain, the same government policies are at the heart of both problems.
Curbing misinformation and protecting the lives of those who may be coerced into joining Border Patrol is work that takes time and resources to sustain. Will you support by making a gift today?
I hope that this work will continue to create a future legacy with less destruction and more peace, tranquility, and reciprocal solidarity. Organizing has always taught me that though this work may seem daunting at times, we cannot do it without the help of our fellow siblings, brothers, and sisters. There is always work, unlearning, and education to be done.
In Peace, Love, and Solidarity,