Mizari Esmeralda Suárez: “Mizari Suárez is neighborly!
I’ve never considered myself an activist, and although I’ve had individuals think and label me as an activist, I’ve never corrected them. I like to think of myself as neighborly, and I think we all should! I came to a conclusion in 2016 that if there is anything in the world I should actively be doing, it is to be neighborly above everything else.
My work in the immigrant rights organization shaped my development on this idea of neighborly. I noticed that many friends would consider immigration a national issue and failed to see it as a local issue that impacts our neighbors here in Lexington daily. I realized that many were appalled when they found out ICE was in town terrorizing our communities or when our city government voted for resolutions that hurt our immigrant neighbors. But when immigrants become a target of hate, everyone becomes an activist or an advocate. It’s a small handful of individuals who ask about our immigrant neighbors or reach out. But being neighborly is different! Neighborly means we are continually reaching out. It means knowing when city government votes on resolutions that hurt our neighbors. Most importantly, it means loving our neighbors ferociously.
To me, it means baking cookies for my neighbors on Chestnut St. and supporting immigrant businesses, organizations, and individuals. When I’m neighborly, I’m attached to the person. When my neighbors become targets of hate, police brutality, gentrification, racism, and everything else, it is my responsibility as a neighbor to say something and do something. Because when we are more neighborly, we push for humane policies to make sure our neighbors feel the support and love, and know we are walking alongside them.”