I am terrified and hyper-ventilating about doing an opening keynote in front of 14-21 year old desi-American youth at the Bay Area Solidarity Summer. I haven’t tried my charm and sense of humor on that age-group yet.
While you await this amazing weekend, read TazzyStar’s interview with me, which is up at SepiaMutiny:
This weekend, Desi youth will be convening in Oakland, CA and Washington DC for the primary purpose of getting activated and politicized. DCDesi Summer will be holding it down for the East Coast, and I personally have been involved in getting Bay Area Solidarity Summer (BASS) off the ground here on the West Coast. Not only am I excited about the FUNraiser we have scheduled, I am particularly excited about the opening keynote speakers for the weekend – author of Desis in the House Sunaina Maira and dream activist Prerna Lal.
I met Prerna Lal last summer at Netroots Nation in Las Vegas. I quickly learned that she was a quite the firecracker. Desi via Fiji, Prerna is a founder of DreamActivist, a current law student, a writer, a SAALT Changemaker, queer, an activist and… is undocumented. Her journey as a struggling youth trying to navigate the broken immigration system is one she is very vocal about sharing, whether on blogs or on twitter. Her tenacity is one to be admired and bravery is one to be inspired by.
Just a few months ago, Prerna was served deportation papers – but being who she is, she’s not leaving without a fight. Here’s what she had to say
I’m not apologetic in it so it will rub a lot of people the wrong way. That’s fine with me. I don’t need to justify why I think it is unfair that my own mother is not considered my immediate relative. The people who usually leave hateful and judgmental comments are Americans so wrapped up in their privilege that they forget American laws grant everyone due process. In this country, you are innocent until you are proven guilty. They are also most likely to deride my criticism of America while ignoring that it is America that has made me unapologetic, unashamed and unafraid.
I’m fighting for my legal right to not be separated from my entire family. I was brought here forcefully and compelled to live here against my wishes. I built a new home here and became a contributing member of society. I was atrociously (and illegally) aged-out of two family petitions and told that I was a “line-jumper” only because I was over 21 by the time USCIS could issue my parents green-cards. Unlike my older sister, I couldn’t adjust my status through “marriage” since that isn’t a legal right for me as a queer person in America. I couldn’t get a “student visa” because my entire family is American. Then, I was placed in removal proceedings, which may result in a ban from the United States, my home and family for the next 10 years. Regardless, I only need to convince an Immigration Judge in San Francisco of the merits of my case. The peanut gallery really doesn’t matter.