A small tidbit from Netroots Nation

Apparently, Sum of Change and most people in the room thought our panel was depressing. Welcome to my life.

They all shared stories about their efforts to fight a struggling battle. They were not very optimistic, they all shared depressing stories and sentiments about numerous immigration inequities, but were hopeful and dedicated to getting comprehensive immigration reform passed. While the immigration reform bill in congress has taken a back seat to other issues, such as healthcare, there are millions of people whose lives and well being are being held hostage by the unjust execution of antiquated laws. While positive news on the national scene is hard to come by, these panelists are working to facilitate as many small scale successes as possible.

The panel was about the ‘social change blogosphere.’ I am not even sure how much dreamactivist.org works on social change. We are working on integrating immigrant youth into the capitalist wage-slave system by adhering to false American ideals and values that do not exist. How much social change can that really bring forth?

No, I am not being too self-critical. I just got told by one of my old professors that I need to break the dominant (capitalist) paradigm. His central question-statement is:

“How about empowering everyone to not fight for a share of the dwindling pie, but to take over the bakery and make as many pies as we need?”

Now this professor is never really happy with anything I do but he also never gives up on pushing me to follow my ideals. So I can’t argue with that statement. We really need to own the means of production in society to make any meaningful change. All we have been doing is trying to get rid of one marginalized identity to make ourselves more mainstream.

Alright, yes, I suppose when put that way, I can be depressing.

Desi Girls Representing Fiji

Here is the most embarrassment video of all times — my sister and my dance performance at Chabot College for International Students Night this past Spring.

It’s amazing how, even after spending more than a decade in this country, we are considered ‘international.’ After all, international relations doesn’t just happen between states and bureaucrats; it happens between people. It’s actually preferable to call it transnational. That has less of a foreign implication.

Enjoy.

Disclaimer: This dance performance is in no way representative of Fiji–a multicultural country.

'I don't support the DREAM Act because…'

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My response to that is a shrug.

I don’t care.

If I want your support or opinion, I would ask for it.

The facts are out in the open. We have stated our position numerous times. And now it is not a productive use of our time to regurgitate.

If you are not a member of Congress on our target list, I REALLY DON’T CARE.

There is no point in commenting, sending hate mails, insulting and questioning undocumented student advocacy. It does not bother or unfaze us in the least.

Do not call me and not any other undocumented student that works really hard for their right to attend college and get a job to support their family and community.

Take your advocacy and call Congress. Make an anti-DREAM Act site. Make a network of undocumented youth who don’t want the DREAM Act. Go to your city council, school boards and associated students to get resolutions passed opposing the DREAM Act. Get regional representatives in over 25 states. Form an LLC or 501(c)(3). Get donations and grants for your cause. Grow a mailing list of 60,000. Work over 80 hours per week to defeat the cause and the work of other undocumented students.

It really doesn’t bother me.  I have more important things to do.

And besides, we will win this anyway.

New Media – SOS_Slaves – Game for Sands of Silence

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This week I had the opportunity to give what little insight I had on a gaming project for the documentary Sands of Silence, produced by activist film-maker Chelo Alvarez-Stehle.

It is a first-person role-playing game where the gamer assumes the character of a girl from either Africa, Nepal or Mexico and is taken through the whole experience of trafficking. The point is to engage the gamer beyond just empathy and encourage action from a community—high school and university students—that may otherwise not know much about the issue.

Going into the project, my primary concern was with trivializing the experiences of sexual trafficking victims. There is absolutely no way to ever simulate the lived experiences of these young adolescents so I am quite ambivalent about the prospects of building genuine empathy through ‘gaming.’

There’s Fashion Wars and then there is Fashion the movie. Fashion Wars is all about seeing whose pose has more style, getting the biatches to gain more cash, and expanding a fashion empire. Fashion the movie takes one behind the camera to see the ugliness of glitz and glamour, into a world that demarcates women as cheap objects for show and sale. They were certainly not meant to be complimentary but how can we bridge the gap between the two platforms in a manner that is both sensitive and engaging?

The concern was somewhat alleviated with knowledge that the producer was an activist film-maker and that the stories in the gameplay were based on real life experiences. And then there was the voice in the back of my head saying if I could excuse and actually appreciate BreakThrough for ICED that simulated the experiences of undocumented immigrants in this country, I had no right to place objections over something I had not experienced or undergone.

The next problem I had was with the complete absence of boys from the gameplay. All the major characters were women. For the first time, I was irked by the absence of men and that awareness came from a queer perspective. We cannot ignore that boys are also sexually trafficked and that there is yet another community that we can reach by including that particular narrative. In our efforts to make women’s experiences more mainstream, let us not marginalize a population that is already afraid to speak out about abuse. De-stigmatize. Make relevant to as many people as possible.

My third concern dealt with how to draw attention to this game. Why would a teenager or university student play this game? I was told that inner-city youth in New York could relate to the project and could react with empathy that these horrendous things happened with their peers. Yet, it simply is not enough of a selling point for me as a gamer. We mostly play games to escape reality; not relive our pains and misfortunes. There has to be a ‘oh cool!’ factor to attract youth to this game and I hope whoever is given charge to market it can come up with the right catchphrase.

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Drawing Lines in the Immigration Debate

There comes a point in the U.S. immigration debate when I really question what ‘camp’ can I really fit under. It happens when advocates of undocumented students scoff at the lives and dreams of legal immigrants to the United States and support restrictions rather than critical reforms to the H-1 B program.

Senator Durbin–a great advocate of the necessary DREAM Act for undocumented kids–is nonetheless also the chief sponsor of a bill to curb H-1 B visas. I can’t stand behind Durbin when he sponsors one group of immigrants over another.

The H-1 B system is badly in need of reform–the tethering of the Green Card immigrant to her/his employer oftentimes becomes a decade-long exploitation with no guarantee of permanent residency down the road. And with cutbacks in education spending in the United States,  including little incentive to pursue careers in technology, where do employers go to find workers? It is no wonder that big business supports the DREAM Act, which would give employers a small pool of productive immigrants to hire. Without the act, we are left with businesses outsourcing jobs to countries like India. We are certainly better off with a system that allows for greater skilled labor migration to this country because immigration is no zero sum game. The presence of skilled immigrants has greatly benefited this country and enriched the lives of American-born citizens.

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