by Amy Fischer
North Carolina’s new policy for issuing licenses for DACA beneficiaries has made national news. People seem to be up in arms looking for ways to do something about the now infamous pink (or is it fuchsia?) stripe. Some religious and advocacy organizations have started encouraging allies to put pink tape on their licenses as an act of solidarity. While I appreciate the sentiment, I, as an ally will not be doing this to my license.
The last time I wrote a blog post about my experience as an ally, I wrote about the fear that I hold for my friends who drive without licenses. I told the story of a friend who would drive without fear, partly because she had to get around and had no other option, but also because she trusted the power of fighting back in case anything were to happen.
As a member of NC DREAM Team, I have had the privilege of speaking with a bunch of people who will be receiving these pink licenses. One person, who is a junior in high school, has told me how he and his parents have been counting down the days until March 25th because this serves as an opportunity for somebody in their family to actually have a drivers license. He says the pink stripe is wrong; he is by no means happy about it. But to him, a license is a license. He and his parents have a whole list of things that they are going to do, and will be able to do, now that there is a license in the family. Alternatively, I’ve heard the story of a young woman who says she will not be getting one of these licenses. She says that she has felt discriminated against all of her life because of her immigration status, and this is just one more instance of her being singled-out and treated wrongly. She says she will continue driving without a license and without fear.
In both of these cases, and the many more in-between, I honestly can’t relate. And putting a bit of pink tape on my license will not change this . I will not get pulled over and questioned about my status because the license in my wallet has tape on it. I won’t feel the sting of the hatred of the anti-immigrant rhetoric that refers to my friends as criminals and demands that they “get out.” And while this may be an over-generalization, for most of the folks that I have seen taping their licenses in solidarity, they seem to be the types that rarely have to take their licenses out of their wallets anyway. We don’t look suspicious. We would probably get waved right through a check point in our neighborhoods because our skin color does not evoke a threat to people’s comfort levels.
I’m not putting pink tape on my license because my solidarity comes from standing with my immigrant friends and supporting their organizing efforts, not from a lame attempt to pretend like I know what it’s like to be undocumented or singled out because of my immigration status. My solidarity allows for undocumented youth to speak for themselves, not for clergy and advocates to attempt to co-opt a struggle that isn’t theirs. Yes, this new policy is unjust. And it’s great that so many people seem fired up about it. But, if you want to do something about it, consult with the people who are directly affected to see how you can stand in solidarity.
To start, join us on March 25th. That’s the first day these pink licenses are being issued, and DACA youth and their families will be speaking out at 3:30pm at the DMV at 2431 Spring Forest Road North Raleigh, Unit 101, NC 27615. See you there.