Adventures of a Forced Migrant Contact Me
I had the pleasure of attending a fantastic Netroots Nation event yesterday where once again, advocates brought up the terrible idea of ‘piecemeal approaches,’ derided DREAM advocates and then proceeded to say that the best we could hope for is that things do not get worse in this climate.
A speaker from Nancy Pelosi’s office told us all that we did not have votes to pass the DREAM Act and that they were looking towards President Obama to frame the issue. The CHC was NOT going to support any ‘piecemeal approach.’ That was the best they could do. It was so positively empowering for all the young people in the room. My immigrant youth friend and I gained a lot from the event; we realized that we should skip going to anything where we are not represented.
I believe the most enlightening quote of the night was from the Asian Law Caucus representative, who said “the only thought out there in the universe promoting a piecemeal immigration effort is MALDEF.” Fantastic. The only thought in my head after hearing that is DUMB. Don’t get me wrong. I totally support comprehensive immigration reform but anything short of a complete overhaul (including the inclusion of UAFA) is ‘piecemeal’ so I will never understand why young immigrants are so derided for taking reins of their own cause. It’s like accusing queers of only wanting marriage for themselves. Now regardless of what we think about marriage, WHO goes around saying that?
Now of course, people will be clamoring to ‘talk to me’ about ‘MY issues’ after the fact, which is so typical of our (racist) hierarchical power structure. The outspoken queer woman of color (aka B-I-T-C-H) has ‘issues’ of course and everyone else doesn’t. Now why is it that people of color have to be offended before being taken seriously and called for dialogue? Don’t bother answering that because I am highly disinterested in wasting an iota of my precious time talking to anyone and their lackeys.
This is precisely what happens when immigrants and immigrant youth get purposely left out of panels concerning their own issues even by so-called allies. I repeatedly asked to be included on the panel concerning “online organizing for immigration rights” only to be told that there was no space for me. Literally. And I have no interest in listening to citizens talk about immigrants and “their rights.” That’s like being gay and sitting in a room where straight people are lecturing about tenets of the LGBT movement. My mind is not colonized enough to accept that.
For the ‘white liberal racist’ we are mere tokens, only for interest when it comes to collecting stories and posing for documentaries. And when their million-dollar strategies fail to bear fruit, we are blamed for ‘ineffective advocacy.’ We, the immigrant youth, fighting to keep our homes, find and hold down jobs, somehow get 3 meals per day and struggling to grapple with refugee status in our own homes just did not try hard enough to lobby for ourselves. We failed even though we are mere caricatures in a simulated game.
Luckily for us, I know how to create alternative spaces so people haven’t been able to entirely put the ‘ignore and discard’ stamp on us. You can’t control messaging online, and that is why real voices are more powerful, more successful than the mutts guarding traditional gates would like.
I am in the “moving on” and “moving out” process in my life. This chapter is so closed that it hardly matters. It’s NEVER going to come in the way of my actual life what with full tuition offers from law schools filling up my mailbox. But I thought I would mention it in passing to the other ships still blindly navigating the waters in the dark to nowhere. Your biggest opposition is not the ignorant anti-immigrant foes with their copy-paste comment spam. Your biggest opposition is the attrition you will face from people supposedly on your own side. Trust no one. Good luck.
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.
Change of plans–After months of shying away, I agreed to attend Netroots Nations in Pennsylvania next week and will join the bike riders when I get back to California.
The weight is on me to “sufficiently represent the Dream Activists” at the pre-NN blogger summit for LGBT and Immigration bloggers. (Mohammad is busy doing more important work in deferring the deportation of two other students this month, one of them in Detroit Michigan).
11:00 – 11:15 Welcome and Introductions (Judith Freeman)
11:15 – 12:00 The Power of Coalitions: Case Studies in Progressive Collaboration (Chris Bowers)
12:00 – 12:30 Intersection of Immigration/LGBT Issues (Steve Ralls)
12:30 – 1:30 Working Lunch Panel — A Bloggers’ Guide to Legislative Advocacy and Going Online to Offline (Shaunna Thomas, Kyle de Beausset, Prerna Lal, Michael Crawford, and Marcy Wheeler with Q&A)
1:30 – 2:15 Legislation: What’s On the Table and Where We Need To Go (David Waldman aka Kagro X)
2:15 – 2:30 Coffee/Snack
2:30 – 3:15 How Bloggers Can Help Organizations — and Vice Versa (Kety Esquivel, Julia Rosen, and Mike Rogers)
3:15 – 4:45 Strengthening Connections and Making Plans (small group discussions)
4:45 – 5:00 Wrap-Up and Next Steps (Chris Bowers)
Two years ago, or even a year ago, this wouldn’t have been a possibility–there is no way that an (out) undocumented queer woman of color would sit on any such panels and summit. The changes are due in large part to the amazing work at DreamActivist and the online promigrant blogosphere (such as Citizen Orange) for recognizing and recommending that work. It feels great to represent, even if I am pigeon-holed and labeled as a ‘DREAM Act’ or ‘undocumented student’ blogger. Maybe I am a token per my multiple identities but my work speaks for itself and I am certainly not a ‘bland’ one.