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Join us this Saturday for two events hosted by the Immigrant Youth Forum 

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COMICS SPEAK! Comic Book Release and Book Signing Event

Date: Saturday, November 2nd

Time: 12:00 – 3:00 pm

Location: Ultimate Comics (6120 Farrington Rd. Durham, NC 27517)

 
Since early March, a group of Black, Latino, and multiethnic teens have been working with visual artist Luis Franco and poet and writer Kane Smego at Chapel Hill’s Street Scene Teen Center to discuss racial identity and issues of racism through the expressive medium of the graphic novel or comic book. “Comics Speak!” was inspired by a community need for expression, discussion, and collaboration. Now they are finally ready to release the final product: a professional quality comic book in color print!
Through a series of workshops and homework, the teens have been coached in the development of their character’s persona through writing poems about themselves and their personal experiences with racism. They then crafted story lines, created storyboards and plot sequences, and drew and colored the various frames to bring their superheroes to life on the pages of their very own comic.The goal was to empower youth of color to use the arts to confront the obstacles they and their communities face on a regular basis, as well as celebrate the vibrant cultural identities they possess. In the words of one of the young artists and member of the Immigrant Youth Forum, Gerardo Alvarez, “This program allowed me to use my art skills to deliver an important message to my community.” “Comics Speak!” is a collaboration between the Chapel Hill Public & Cultural Arts Office, Sacrificial Poets, NC Dream Team, and The Ella Baker Women’s Center for Leadership and Community Activism.
The group will celebrate the publishing of their new book with a release party at Ultimate Comics in Durham on Saturday, November 2. Students will be on hand to sign books and discuss their achievement. The event is free and open to the public.

Date:
 Saturday, November 2nd
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Location: St. Thomas Moore Church (940 Carmichael St, Chapel Hill, NC 27514
Come out to St. Thomas Moore and join the Immigrant Youth Forum to learn about Immigration Reform, Jobs, Education, and Stopping Deportations. This will be a potluck, so please bring food to share. Find out about how you can get involved!
Vengan a Saint Thomas More con IYF para aprender sobre la reforma migratoria, trabajos, educación, y deportación. Habrá un convivio entonces, si pueden traer comida por favor traiganlo. Vengan y aprendan como se pueden involucrar y ayudar.

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I, Cruz Nunez, am an undocumented student at Chapel Hill High who will face financial barriers when the time comes to pay for college. I want to see the problem improved or even solved, for all the students who deserve to get educated and want change. This can happen if HB904 passes because this bill would allow undocumented students like me, who have attended North Carolina high schools to receive in-state tuition rates. I contacted my school system’s Superintendent and convinced him, along with the rest of the school board, to show support for House Bill 904, a tuition equity bill for immigrant students.

I didn’t do it alone and it didn’t happen overnight. Just know that you can do it too. Here’s how.

Follow these guidelines:

  • Find out who the board members of your school system are. Get their contact information which is usually located online. I first emailed the chair of our school board who suggested that we reach out to the Superintendent.
  • Email the Superintendent. The message should be formal, with a salutation/greeting, use of his/her formal name, and a respectful tone. Be clear in getting your message across. Try this: introduce who you are and talk a little about yourself. Introduce the problem of unequal tuition rates and how you are directly affected. Carry a tone of confidence, persistence, and change for the better. Finally, ask for their support and ask to set up a meeting time to discuss the issue.
  • If the Superintendent does not reply or makes communication difficult, send your message to the email address meant for public concerns, to let the whole board know you want change and their support. If the Board members don’t see your issue as important, get anyone and everyone to sign a petition in support of HB 904. Pressure them to meet with you.
  • When the Superintendent responded to my initial email, I scheduled a meeting through his secretary. We met in my school library immediately after school with another student who was a recent graduate.
  • When you meet with one or all of the Board members, be formal and present yourself seriously and intelligently but not aggressive or cocky. Make to state facts on current events, like how there are slightly over a dozen states that have enacted a bill just like this, and how unequal tuition rates are economic walls for immigrant families. Bring facts. It’s hard to be convincing when you have no idea what you are talking about. Remind them that YOU are students in THEIR schools.
  • If there is resistance to show support, pressure them into believing that the people will be disappointed in School Board’s lack of support. Make it clear to them that tuition equity needs to be addressed and fought for.
  • Once on board, our Superintendent asked an ally in the school system to draft up a letter saying that they support undocumented students and the passing of HB904. We helped edit the wording of this letter to reflect our needs and the urgency of our situation. Your superintendent might not write their own letter, provide them with a sample or work with an ally in your district who can draft it for them.
  • We then attended our public School Board meeting to urge the board to approve this letter of support. School board meetings often have space for public comment, sign up ahead of time so they know you are coming!
  • If possible, have immigrant students who are or will be affected by the unfair tuition rates speak out and tell their story in order to show that the issue is not a distant problem, it happens in your own schools! Three of us spoke at our meeting, the school board members were really moved by our stories.
  • After hearing our stories, the school board voted unanimously to approve the letter of support.
  • Be creative and find other ways to get the School Board’s support if the ones mentioned above do not work. Remember, if your plan failed once, don’t trash it. Try it again, it might work next time. Try to improve a plan, or combine it with another to get a more desired result. The point is – do not give up.

Here is the Chapel Hill/Carrboro School Board’s letter of support for HB904:

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**English below**

“Comics Speak!” Proyecto de Arte Ayuda a Adolescentes a Expresar Sus Pensamientos sobre Identidad y el Racismo

Presentación Final: Viernes, Mayo 17 de 6:00 – 8:00 pm en el ArtsCenter de Carrboro

(Chapel Hill, NC)  Mexinegro, un Moreno, Mexicano, superhéroe multiétnico que lucha en contra de villanos racistas no es fácilmente reconocido como el personaje de un héroe, o por lo menos, aún no. Pero, si los quince adolescentes participando en el proyecto “Comics Speak!” tienen la última palabra, éste y otros personajes llegarán a ser tan conocidos como el “Iron Man o Wolverine”. Desde el principio de Febrero, un grupo de jóvenes Morenos, Latinos, y multiétnicos han estado trabajando con el artista visual Luis Franco y el poeta y escritor Kane Smego en el Centro de adolescentes Street Scene para crear sus cómics como parte del proyecto “Comics Speak!” El proyecto es una colaboración entre el público de Chapel Hill y la Oficina de Artes Culturales, Sacrificial Poets, Volunteers for Youth, NC Dream Team, y Ella Baker Woman’s Center for Leadership and Community Activism. El proyecto une a jóvenes Afroamericanos, Latinos y multiétnicos para hablar sobre la identidad racial y el racismo por medio del cómic. En las palabras de uno de los artistas jóvenes, Gerardo Alvarez, “Este programa me ha permitido usar mis habilidades artísticas para entregar un mensaje importante a mi comunidad.”

Por medio de una serie de doce talleres, cada sábado por la mañana, y su trabajo fuera de la escuela, estos jóvenes han sido entrenados en el desarrollo de su personaje, a través de poemas escritos sobre ellos mismos y sus experiencias con el racismo. De ahí, crearon su historia, hicieron un guión gráfico, dibujaron y colorearon los varios cuadros para dar vida a los superhéroes en cada pagina de su cómic. Habrá una exhibición del arte y poesía de los jóvenes, en el ArtsCenter en Carrboro el 17 de Mayo de 6-8 pm. La exhibición es gratis y abierto al público, y le dará la oportunidad a la comunidad de hablar con estos artistas jóvenes y hacerles preguntas sobre su proyecto.

“Comics Speak!” nació como respuesta a la necesidad dentro de la comunidad, de expresión, discusión, y colaboración. El propósito era dar fuerza a jóvenes de color y usar su arte como una forma de confrontar los obstáculos que ellos y sus comunidades enfrentan a diario. Pero también queríamos celebrar sus identidades y culturas vibrantes. El proyecto dió espacio e instrucción para que estos jóvenes puedan formar una relación e identificar estos temas usando arte visual y poesía como forma de comunicarse con su comunidad. El proyecto fue una extensión de dos talleres previos realizados por Sacrificial Poets de Chapel Hill, que identificaron el deseo de jóvenes de utilizar el arte para expresarse de una manera que fuera positiva y afirmando sus identidades.

El proyecto fue comisionado por el Público de Chapel Hill y la Oficina de Artes Culturales como parte de su anual “Into the Streets: Community Art Projects,” que conecta a artistas con grupos de la comunidad para crear arte temporal o permanente que directamente involucra y beneficia a las comunidades de Chapel Hill y Carrboro.

Acerca de la Oficina del Público y Artes Culturales

La oficina de Público de la ciudad de Chapel Hill y la Oficina de Artes Culturales, una división del Departamento de Parques y Recreación, desarrolla e implementa programas de arte para aumentar el acceso del público a las artes, provee oportunidades para que artistas locales puedan mostrar su trabajo y promover el entendimiento y conocimiento del público en las artes. La Oficina está aconsejada por y trabaja con la Comisión de Artes Puúblicas de Chapel Hill, una comisión de 11 miembros voluntarios establecido en 1992 y apuntado por el Ayuntamiento.

Contacto: Jeffrey York, Administrador de Artes Publicas, jyork@townofchapelhill.org, (919) 968-2750

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“Comics Speak!” Art Project Helps Teens Express Their Thoughts about Identity and Racism 

Final Presentation: Friday May 17 from 6:00 – 8:00 pm at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro 

(Chapel Hill, NC)   Blexican, a Black, Mexican, multiethnic super hero who fights racist villains is not a readily recognized super hero persona, at least not yet.  However, if the fifteen teens participating in the “Comics Speak!” project have their say, this character and others will become as well-known as Iron man or Wolverine.  Since early February, a group of Black, Latino, and multiethnic teens have been working with visual artist, Luis Franco, and poet and writer, Kane Smego, at the Street Scene Teen Center to create their comics as part of the “Comics Speak!” project.  The project is a collaboration between the Chapel Hill Public & Cultural Arts Office, Sacrificial Poets, Volunteers for Youth, NC Dream Team, and The Ella Baker Women’s Center for Leadership and Community Activism.  The project brings together African American, Latino, and multiethnic youth to discuss racial identity and issues of racism through the expressive medium of the graphic novel or comic book. In the words of one of the young artists, Gerardo Alvarez, “This program allowed me to use my art skills to deliver an important message to my community.”

Through a series of twelve, Saturday morning workshops, and work outside of class, the teens have been coached in the development of their character’s persona through writing poems about their selves and their own experiences with racism.  They then crafted story lines, created storyboards and plot sequences, and then drew and colored the various frames to bring their super heroes to life on the pages of their very own comic.   The teen’s artwork and poetry will debut in an exhibition at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro on May 17 from 6-8 pm.  The exhibition and performance is free and open to the public, and will give the community an opportunity to speak with the youth artists and ask them questions about the project.

“Comics Speak!” grew out of a response to a community need for expression, discussion, and collaboration.  The goal was to empower youth of color to use the arts to confront the obstacles they and their communities face on a regular basis, as well as celebrate the vibrant cultural identities they possess.  The project provided space and instruction for these youth to connect and identify these issues, by using both visual art and spoken word as a means of communicating with the community at large. The project was an extension of two earlier community workshops conducted by Chapel Hill’s Sacrificial Poets that identified a desire for an artistic means of expression for the teens that was positive and identity-affirming.

The project was commissioned by the Chapel Hill Public & Cultural Arts Office as part of their yearly Into the Streets: Community Art Projects, which connects artists with community groups to create temporary or more permanent artwork that directly engages and benefits the communities in Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

About the Office of Public & Cultural Arts

The Town of Chapel Hill’s Public and Cultural Arts Office, a division of the Parks & Recreation Department, develops and implements art programs to increase public access to the arts, provides opportunities for local artists to display their work, and promotes public understanding and awareness of the arts. The Office is advised by and works collaboratively with the Chapel Hill Public Arts Commission, an 11-member volunteer board established in 1992 and appointed by the Town Council.

Contact: Jeffrey York, Public Arts Administrator, jyork@townofchapelhill.org, (919) 968-2750

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Photo by Victoria Bouloubasis

 

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.

SIGN THE PETITION!

Yesterday we rallied outside the NC Department of Transportation to demand DACA eligible immigrant youth be able to get their driver’s licenses issued. We were there to tel the head of this department, Tony Tata, that we know he has the power to change the NC DMV’s predatory policy and he must do so immediately.

We personally spoke to Tony Tata’s secretary to set up an appointment with him in person. They said they would call to confirm but as of now this has not happened. Meanwhile the anti-immigrant forces and usual bullies are out in full force. They are counting on our silence! Here is what they are saying:

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Help us outnumber their calls and emails!

These anti-immigrants are telling Tony Tata and the DMV that they should be against hard working immigrant youth like you and your friends. They are demanding that Tony Tata and the DMV go against USCIS and the NC Attorney Generals’ explicit clarification that DACA holders are in fact eligible for a driver’s license!

We must not sit back now. Make your own 5 calls and send 5 emails. Then ask 5 friends and family members to do the same!

You can use this script and contact information directly on the DOT website:

1. Call Tony Tata: 919-707-2800

Sample Script: “Hi, I’m calling to support driver licenses for DACA immigrant youth. They are legally present in North Carolina as USCIS and the NC Attorney General have made clear. I want a safe North Carolina with licensed and insured drivers. We must put safety over hate politics.”

2. Click here to leave him a comment at the Department of Transportation website. Tell him that DACA youth have been given authorization to legally work, let them drive!

We are gaining momentum! The North Carolina NAACP has issued a statement supporting immigrant youth. Keep calling and signing the petition so that Anthony Tata, Pat McCrory, and all of these politicians know that they must act immediately. But we have to keep calling until we have a solution!

Make A Call:

Eric Boyette (NC DMV Commissioner)  –  (919) 861-3015

Tony Tata (NC Dept of Transportation Secretary)  –  (919) 707-2800

Sample script: “Hi, I am calling to ask that the NC DMV adhere to the statement made by Attorney General Cooper saying DACA holders have a right to obtain driver licenses by NC state law. I ask that this official statement be reflected in the DMV’s requirements for driver licenses immediately. Thank you!”

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NAACP

NC NAACP Issues Statement in Response to the NC DOT’s Unwillingness to Comply with NC Attorney General’s Ruling on Licenses for Young People Under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Executive Order

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

22 January 2013

For More Information:    Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, President, 919-394-8137

Mrs. Amina J. Turner, Executive Director, 919-682-4700

Atty. Jamie Phillips, Public Policy Coordinator, 919-682-4700

For Media Assistance:     Rob Stephens, Field Secretary, 336-577-9335

The NC NAACP is asking Governor Pat McCrory to instruct his Secretary of Transportation Anthony Tata to obey the federal rules, as upheld by N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper, and issue driver licenses to young immigrants who are in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, the NC NAACP President, is challenging the Governor to divorce himself from the petulant and adolescent comments of Lt. Gov. Dan Forest.  Forest is quoted as saying, “We are a sovereign state and need to stand up and push back when the Feds encroach on our ability to protect our citizens and enforce our laws.”

Barber said, “North Carolina needs to focus on unifying and lifting up all people, especially our children. Lt. Gov. Forest’s statement divides and scapegoats.  Does Gov. McCrory agree that North Carolina should act in direct violation of the U.S. Government’s laws and rules, as interpreted by the N.C. top law enforcement official? Forest’s outburst may get some applause at the tea party rallies he attends, but if this is a sign about how Gov. McCrory intends to govern all the people of North Carolina–not just the extremists, then the people of North Carolina need to know now.  Both the Governor and the Lt. Governor swore on the Bible to uphold the U.S. Constitution and laws.  And 145 years ago, the N.C. Constitution declared ‘Every citizen of this State owes paramount allegiance to the Constitution and government of the United States, and no law or ordinance of the State in contravention or subversion thereof can have any binding force.’

The United States government has established a process that defers deportation of immigrants who came to this country illegally as children. This process, called DACA, provides these young people with the opportunity to obtain a NC driver license. Lt. Gov. Forest recently said, they should “not be afforded the privileges reserved for US citizens,” and accused President Obama of ignoring the law. “

“We urge Governor McCrory and his administration to comply with the U.S. laws.  Make it clear in the beginning of your administration that tea party rhetoric has no place in your administration.  The NC NAACP believes the issue of how we treat our young Latino sister and brothers will play an important part in defining the new McCrory Administration.  Will you support the Attorney General, who says you should instruct the Division of Motor Vehicles to resume its sensible practice of issuing licenses to DACA young people?  Are will you force them to go further into the shadows, waiting for the comprehensive immigration reforms that the great majority of federal legislators now are talking about?”

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Hon. Pat McCrory

Governor of North Carolina

116 W. Jones Street

Raleigh, NC 26702

RE: Your Position on DACA Issue

Dear Governor McCrory,

The NC NAACP respectfully requests that you support the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a federal law created by Executive Order of the President of the United States. This request comes from the root of what keeps this country great. Our Constitution, created by Lincoln Republicans and African Americans of this State, 145 years ago clearly reads, “Every citizen of this State owes paramount allegiance to the Constitution and government of the United States, and no law or ordinance of the State in contravention or subversion therof can have any binding force.”

We pray that you do not agree with those who would use antiquated language such as “sovereign state” and who would imply a state may ignore and reject a federal law set in place by the President of the United States. We pray you reject nullification language and efforts by your Lt. Governor and those in the extreme pockets of your party. We pray that you and your administration comply with U.S. laws and declare that tea party rhetoric has no place in your administration. We pray you follow the lead of your Attorney General and instruct the Division of Motor Vehicles to resume its issuing of licenses to young people covered by DACA. The NAACP will stand in every way with our Latino and Immigrant Brothers and Sisters. We must move forward as a state not backwards!

All of this we ask and pray with respect and hope.

Respectfully,

Barber Signature

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II

President, NC State Conference of the NAACP

 cc: NAACP Members, Partners, and Friends

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Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

 

Viridiana was able to call in live on to the Democracy Now! program to speak about Broward Transitional Center where she is currently detained.

Listen in here for a longer, more in-depth interview.

And be sure to sign here to demand a full and complete review of each detainee at the Broward Detention center and that all low-priority detainees immediately be released and their cases administratively closed.

Video by Josh Davis (undocumentary.tumblr.com)

Last week, we brought a group of high school youth to the Immigration Committee meeting at the NC Legislature when undocumented youth, including Uriel Alberto, stood up declaring themselves undocumented and unafraid. Most of them had never seen someone declare their status publicly, let alone in front of such a hostile crowd. When Uriel stood up and said, “My name is Uriel Alberto. I am undocumented and I am unafraid. I refuse to be bullied and intimidated by this committee and choose to empower my community” he truly did just that–Uriel empowered the youth that were in that meeting with him, and countless others who have seen the videos, read the blogs, articles, and everything that has happened since.

One of the youth present that day was Jaime, or “Li’l James” as we lovingly call him, a freshman at Carrboro High School. Jaime was incredibly moved by Uriel’s strength and resilience and decided to write a poem about what it meant to be undocumented in the committee meeting that day. He reflected on Uriel’s continued detention and hunger strike. He presented it at a local open mic presented by The Sacrificial Poets, an event that usually draws a big crowd.

Originally, Jaime was going to present his poem with another youth. And when she said she was unsure and nervous about it, Jaime encouraged her by telling her a story about going to an amusement park with his friends. He had never been on a roller coaster before and was terrified ahead of time, but he forced himself to do it. His mind changed once he was on the roller coaster and having the time of his life. Jaime told his friend, “I bet it’ll be like that, super scary before hand, but in the end it’ll feel awesome!” On the way to the open mic event, Jaime was nervous about not only coming out publicly for the first time, but also about reading a poem in front of a large crowd. I told him his own roller coaster story and he shot back at me, “that’s my story, you can’t use it on me!”

Jaime’s poem (as you can see above) was a big hit and he walked off that night with the biggest smile I’ve seen. As we were walking out, I asked him if it was like his roller coaster story and he said it was. Jaime feels so happy that he did it, and finished his poem by passing out flyers asking the audience to take action for Uriel. I’ll ask you to do the same, on behalf of Li’l James. Sign the petition and call ICE ( (202.732.3000).

Uriel took action in order to empower his peers, like Jaime. Now let’s empower ourselves to take action for Uriel.

Join Jaime, the hunger strikers from Winston-Salem, and our community this Friday in front of the Wake County Jail as we hold a vigil for Uriel. And for more empowering spoken word, go see Poetic Portraits of A Revolution at the Carrboro ArtsCenter this Thursday, Saturday or Sunday. A group of us went last Friday after a press conference for Uriel, and we left feeling rejuvenated and motivated to keep fighting.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 29, 2012

Contact: Viridiana Martinez    (919)704-0599

dreamteamnc@gmail.com

ncdreamteam.org

Youth Come Out as UNDOCUMENTED and UNAFRAID in NC Legislature

 

Undocumented Youth Face Anti-Immigrant Committee in NC Legislature

As the newly developed Standing House Committee on the State’s Role on Immigration works on drafting a comprehensive anti-immigrant plan for NC, undocumented youth are determined to drop the fear and face the members of this committee by showing up at the committee’s meeting and making themselves heard.

“My name is Uriel Alberto; I am undocumented, unafraid, and unashamed!” Uriel is an undocumented youth who is determined to be present at the committee’s meeting. When asked why he simply states “I refuse to be bullied and intimidated by this committee and choose to empower my community.”

This will be the third of a total of six meetings that this committee will have. These committee meetings are open to the public and like in the past two meetings a large number of anti-immigrant supporters are expected. The environment that these undocumented youth will be in will be a hostile one.

NC DREAM Team and other undocumented youth will show presence in tomorrow’s meeting in an effort to stop the spread of Arizona SB 1070 copycats across the south and a possible similar bill draft for NC.

Where: 16 West Jones St. Raleigh, NC 27601; ROOM 643 Legislative Office Building,

When: 1:00 pm, 2-29-2012

What: Undocumented Youth Face Anti-Immigrant Committee in NC Legislature

Who: NC DREAM Team

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Photo by J. Valas

The following is one of those conversations that seems to happen over and over again as I hang out with my undocumented friends.

Me: Hey, I can drive tonight.
Undocumented Friend: Are you sure? I can drive, you drove the last time.
Me: Seriously, I have a drivers license. It’s cool. I got it,
Friend: Hey, I’ve dropped the fear. I’m undocumented and unafraid!
Me: Well, I haven’t dropped the fear. I’m documented and afraid so get in the car.
We giggle as I drive off with my driver’s license in my wallet and my privilege checked.

Recently, I’ve been thinking a little bit more about what it means when I jokingly say that I am “documented and afraid.” Part of it is based on how I felt when an undocumented friend of mine was pulled over while driving. I was talking to her on the phone–when she got pulled over, she hit redial so I could secretly listen in on her conversation with the police. I listened with my heart pounding and tears swelling in my eyes, not knowing what might happen to my dear friend. But being “documented and afraid” is also based upon my reflections of being an ally in this movement.

People always ask me why I am a part of the NC DREAM Team. I always give my two part answer: because there are people that I truly love and care about who are undocumented; and because what is going on in my community is unjust and I refuse to stay quiet. But I think it’s time for me to change my answer: how about instead of explaining myself, I say “well, why aren’t you?”

That conversation usually leads to people thanking me for what I do. Both undocumented and documented folks do it all the time, as if allies are heroes that deserve to be fawned over because we take time out of our privilege-filled day to help these poor folks who have fewer rights than us.

I don’t need to be thanked; I shouldn’t be thanked. This movement is not about me. It is about the brave undocumented youth that are coming out of the shadows, taking risks, and demanding that people listen and make change.

By Julio Salgado - dreamersadrift.com

This message is increasingly important as we mourn the loss of Joaquin Luna, an undocumented student from Texas who gave up hope and took his own life last week. As much as my heart and soul is in this movement, at the end of the day, I cannot even pretend to understand the struggle and shame that comes with having my humanity denied. That is why it is so important for undocumented youth to lead; when the “undocumented, unafraid, unashamed” voices reach someone that feels alone and on the verge of giving up, they can feel connected to those that are truly living their reality and find comfort knowing that they are not alone.

Sometimes the line between good and bad ally is quite thin; it’s tricky navigating the “ally” role. The most important thing I try to remember is that this isn’t about me; my role is always to support undocumented people. Standing shoulder to shoulder sometimes means taking a step back.  My name doesn’t need to be on press releases, and I don’t have to speak at events. Instead, I should be actively encouraging undocumented youth to fill my shoes.

At the end of the day, this movement is about more than just legislation and policies. It is about a community getting empowered and finding its own voice to speak for itself. No matter how well intentioned, the voice of an ally in the forefront inherently cancels out the voices of those that need to be heard the most.

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