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.
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.
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.
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.
I am tired of sharing this ‘life story’ no matter how intriguing it may seem. It’s better when I am given some direction such as ‘talk about the history of your activism and organizing efforts.’ I can draw from my days as a high school policy debater and then coach and judge for the Urban Debate Leagues. That is really how I gained a lot of insight into the injustices that exist in this world and learned about this country. Nothing compared to the feeling of going up against richer and more privileged kids and coming out victorious. Watching empowered inner-city kids debate topicality, rip out critiques of nuclearism and ‘run’ plan-plan counterplans was a complete thrill. It is also at that point that I decided to stray clear from becoming a stereotype and embrace a different path in life, that of a civil rights attorney. I am not there yet and my goals have slightly changed but it is on the agenda. I have lived so many different lives and identities in the past 9-10 years–a policy debater, a student government bureaucrat, a fan-fic writer, a janitor, administrator of 2-3 celebrity fan-sites, a blogger, a tech-geek, an avid cyclist, an immigrant rights organizer, an undocumented student activist, a social-networking guru, and someone who just craves normalcy and boredom. I cannot wait for it to all reconcile.
The LA Times recently ran a story on Aliyah Bacchs, who is a Muslim lesbian that left an arranged marriage and came to her family with two choices: accept her sexuality or lose her forever. Her case is not an isolated incident or limited to Muslims in America as exemplified in the Channel 4 documentary that was shot in Britain.
“I think my mom would rather say that I’ve been hit by a truck than say that I am gay.”
Abdullah says in the documentary that people pick and choose what they want from the Koran. He takes the good parts and does not believe he is doing anything wrong. After all, Allah is forgiving.
While the documentary is restrictive in terms of the fact that many faces are never shown or blurred, it still manages to explore the lives of a group of gay Muslims living in Britain, some closeted and others openly homosexual, but all struggling with some aspect of their sexuality. The double standard of condemning gay men more than lesbians is always worth mentioning : Islam does not have an opinion on lesbians but gay behavior is strongly condemned and punishable to death. That stems from living in a society where the feminine is disparaged and women are merely objects for consumption (and it is true for all countries including the United States).
There were several profound statements in the video. One that particularly struck me had to do with the intersectionality of being an ‘Asian’ and a queer. The gay community wants us to step out and be proud while the pan-Asian community wants us to remain in the closet and constrict ourselves. How does someone deal with that contradiction? Says a queer Muslim in the video, “Are they both competing with each other and we are having to pay for it? Why can’t I live my life?” Why can’t we live our lives?
It’s an un-Islamic notion to be ‘out and proud’ says one member of Imaan — the largest support group for gay Muslims (more support groups can be found here). With colorful hijabs on at Gay pride in Britain, the members of Imaan seem to tow the fine-line between leading their lives as queers who are also respectful of the modesty in Islam. But Abdullah, another gay Muslim, says he wouldn’t have hidden his identity at Pride as it is important for people to see who is speaking, who is telling their story.
Someone find me the Hindu scripture that says women should be molested and assaulted brutally for drinking or visiting a pub. Jayanth Kodkani of Times of India is right on mark with his analysis of the attacks as less to do with religion or a defense of Indian culture and more to do with a lumpenization of politics:
The arguments put forth by the leaders of the Mangalore attack show that the new agenda is lumpenisation — of assaulting urban youth on the pretext of upholding a self-designed code of “Indianism”. That such socially-regressive thought infringes on cultural freedom is not their concern at all. Ironical, indeed too, that the recruits of these “strike forces” are young men in their early twenties.
(Courtesy: Times of India)
These useless ‘Hindu’ zealots are now out on bail without repent and promising to wreck more terror on the women in Mangalore, while everyone with some political stake in the issue is trying to milk it for their cause–The BJP is back-tracking and distancing itself from its Hindu nationalist elements while the Congress party is trying to pin this on the BJP given that Karnataka is a BJP-run state where these fools run rampant. Whatever the outcome, the victims of these deplorable attacks and other acts of terrorism by the hoodlum Shri Ram Sena, must receive justice.
A vast majority of India is secular and obviously outraged by the attacks while students have taken to the streets. Before India takes action and points to terrorists in other countries, maybe it should root out the terrorists living and residing within its borders.
I think it is high-time. What began as a cultural phenomenon in the United States with a group of ultra-thin fashion models on the catwalk has pretty much descended to all parts of the globe remotely connected to the ‘fashion world.’ I am glad to see some celebrities take a stand and denounce this image of women — we don’t need more girls with low self-esteem and eating disorders.
P.S. Who missed me? I am retaking the LSAT in December *ducks* and this time I will decimate it! But I won’t neglect this blog or any of my online work anymore!