I guest-blogged this relatively nice piece for South Asian Americans Leading Together last week:
Six undocumented immigrant youth — Dulce (18), Jessica (17), Felipe (24), Richie (16), Nataly (16) and Leeidy (16) — sat down in the middle of an intersection in Georgia this past week, in a protest against the latest wave of anti-immigrant terror unleashed by the Southern state.
It is not the first act of civil disobedience led by undocumented youth and it is certainly not the last as more of us come out of the shadows and demand our right to live in the United States.
And yet, where are the undocumented South Asian youth in this movement? As part of the sixth largest population of undocumented immigrants in the United States, it often pains me to be one of the only vocal ones.
“Rehne do. Chodho. Jaane do.”
These are infamous South Asian attitudes passed on to us by our wonderful mothers and fathers — to suffer in silence and not say anything, to not protest or create a fuss when things are not right, to not step into the public arena to fight for justice. It’s a conditioned survival skill that may even come handy at times. But it is troubling when that survival skill propagates and perpetuates a fear that makes it hard to live our lives fully.
That’s how a lot of the South Asian 1.5 generation grows up in America. Afraid about what people would say. Afraid to shatter expectations. Afraid to live. Afraid to breathe. Afraid, afraid and more afraid till the die we finally die. Yeh bhi koi jeena hai kya?
I lived like that for many years. It wasn’t living; it was surviving. Then I decided that I’m not interested in surviving. I’m interested in thriving.