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“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, email@example.com, (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, firstname.lastname@example.org, (919) 968-2750
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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.
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:
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!”
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?”
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.
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II
President, NC State Conference of the NAACP
cc: NAACP Members, Partners, and Friends
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
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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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.
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.
Media Advisory Tuesday, November 15th
Contact: Mohammad Abdollahi | Cell: 734.262.9705
Contact: Dayanna Rebolledo | Cell: 313.319.5524
Historical Civil Disobedience in Montgomery, Alabama:
Undocumented Parents, 55, 39, 30 and 25 Risk Arrest
Four parents join dozens of undocumented youth in demanding HB56 author—State Senator Beason— stop the hate
***Watch Live at 3:00pm EST – http://bit.ly/livealundoc ***
MONTGOMERY, Ala.— 12 undocumented immigrants participate in an act of civil disobedience today in front of the Alabama State Capitol. They will publicly declare their undocumented status in defiance of HB 56, which is considered to be the harshest anti-immigrant bill in the country.
“We want to remind the immigrants of this state that they have a voice and it’s time to use it,” said Belen Rebelledo, an undocumented mother of three. “We are here to stop Alabama from once again trying to turn the power of the state against those who live in it.”
Participants for today’s event have come together from all over the country to stand in solidarity with the community in Alabama. “What happens to one of us affects all of us regardless of where we live” said Alma Diaz, an undocumented immigrant who arrived in the U.S. at the age of 22. Now 30 Alma fights for her community and is taking this risk, knowing she could be arrested and deported, because doing nothing is no longer an option. “What has hiding in the shadows gotten us? We must fight back; it is the only way to end the pain we see in our communities.”
When: November 15th at 2:00pm: Alabama House of Reps
11 South Union Street, Montgomery, AL 36130-2102
What: Undocumented parents and youth deliver a letter to state legislators demanding a change in anti-immigrant rhetoric and wait for response.
Where: In front of Alabama State Legislature.
Who: Martin Unzueta, 55; Belen Rebelledo, 39; Alma Diaz, 30; Jaime Guzman, 25, of Portland, OR; Catalina Rios, 19, of Detroit, MI; Ernesto Zumaya, 25, of Los Angeles, CA; Myasha Arellano, 18, of San Fernando Valley, CA; Krsna Avila, 23, of Oakland, CA; Fernanda Marroquin, 22, of Philadelphia, PA; Cesar Marroquin, 21, of Philadelphia, PA; and Cynthia Perez, 27, of Indianapolis, IN.
Martin Unzueta, an undocumented immigrant living in the U.S. for the past 17 years is taking action to confront the lies; “The Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement lie because they are hurting our communities with their actions. We are doing civil disobedience because we are not afraid of confronting those who lie.”
Jaime Limon-Guzman, an undocumented parent from Oregon is in Alabama to protect his family; “At 12, my parents brought me to the U.S.to give me a better life. I worry everyday for my 2 year old daughter, I am now taking the same risk my parents took to give her a better and more secure future.
The Alabama Youth Collective is an undocumented youth-led organization working to better the lives of immigrants in the state of Alabama. The Youth Collective firmly believes in the principles of non-violent direct action.
Profile of parents participating in today’s civil disobedience
Belen Rico came to the U.S. 11 years ago to provide her children with a more promising future. Now 39 years old and a mother of three, she works multiple jobs in order to provide for her family. After spending time with immigrant communities inAlabama, she has witnessed first-hand how HB 56 is tearing families apart. Recognizing that she cannot sit by inDetroit while such injustice is happening inBirmingham, Belen feels that the time has come to take a stand. In her words, “As parents, we need to come out of the shadows and walk side by side with our children. We need to stand united so that our message can be strong and clear: we will no longer remain silent.”
Martin Unzueta has been in the United States for 17 years. A resident of Chicago,Illinois, the 55 year-old has been a long-time community organizer and now advocates for the rights of workers at the Chicago Community and Workers’ Rights Center. Martin refuses to stay silent while 1,100 people are deported every day. He recognizes that the majority of them are victims of Secure Communities, which criminalizes the families and workers like him who form the backbone of this society. He is taking this risk because he is tired of seeing his children suffer and is tired of the lies of ICE. Martin is fighting back because he will not be afraid of those who lie to entire communities under the guise of freedom.
Alma Diaz has lived in America for almost a decade. From Cincinnati,Ohio, she has worked hard to achieve the elusive American Dream. At 30 years old,Alma is a wife and mother, a student at Cincinnati State Community College, where she studies Business Management, and a community volunteer at the Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center, where she educates her fellow community members about their rights and fights to minimize wage theft. She has demonstrated, through her actions, her value of service to the community and of education. With these same values in mind,Alma is taking action in Alabama. She hopes to empower other undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows and take a stand, in order to keep their families together and hold America accountable to its own values.
Jaime Limon-Guzman came to the United States at age 12 from Mexico. Jaime currently works as an organizer and mentor in his community in Oregon. As a young parent of a 2 year old, He fears he will be separated from his daughter due to his immigration status. Jaime decided to risk deportation by sharing his story in Alabama in hopes to put an end to law that dehumanizes his community.
Remaining profiles will be loaded on www.dreamactivist.org | @dreamact
The following was originally written as a scholarship essay by an undocumented high school student in Granville County, North Carolina. Feel like taking a stand? Come to our Youth Empowerment Summit on November, 6th.
One of the happiest memories from my childhood was playing in the rain with my cousins and friends with no shoes on, wearing an oversized t-shirt in Honduras. As a young child, my parents were not present in my life. Instead, they cared for me from afar, in a long distance relationship. All I knew was that they were somewhere else beyond my reach, or at least it sounded too far away when I would talk to my mom over the phone. I knew that we were apart so that they could properly provide for me; however, now that I am living with my mom I know I would have been happier to see and hug her every day.
When the rain stopped, so did the game. I remember clearly that I had to say good-bye to my friends that day, friends who I loved and who shared my passion for mathematics. We were always competing in class, trying to see who could get that perfect score on the test. But now I was to leave on a journey with an unfamiliar man who was called a “coyote”. At such a young age, I could not fully grasp what this adventure was going to bring. All I understood was that I was going to see my mother again, and that was all I needed to know. I knew I could take on any math problem or any other struggle that life might possibly bring as long as I could embrace her once again.
As time passed, the journey became exhausting, even for the curious and courageous eight-year-old boy that I was. The coyote would say, “This time we’re going to make it, just be quiet and pray we don’t get caught.” It was not until the third time behind bars that the fear really set in. I was in a cell surrounded by strangers; my heart was racing and I felt as if my brain was going to explode. I was terrified. I wanted my mother more than anything, but this time, even more than my mom, I wanted freedom. Why was I being detained? I was just an innocent child who wanted to be reunited with my parents. Why were these people in green uniforms blocking the way for this wide-eyed little boy with a salty wet face who could barely eat the cold tortillas provided in the cell? I wanted to bury myself; I wanted to wake up in a different place, in a different life. On the fifth try, I finally made it through Guatemala and Mexico, and arrived at the border that brought so much happiness, yet so much fear. To me, it brought my beloved mother. It brought me dreams of a life and a future.
When I woke up from the terrible nightmare that was my journey to the United States, I soon realized that the challenges were not over. Although we are all created in the image of God, I was the alien sitting in Mrs. Jeanne’s fourth grade class. My favorite part of the day was the math lesson; it was the time of the day where I spoke the same language as everybody else. Sometimes I even spoke it a little bit better than the rest of my classmates. Yet, the other students spoke in such a different tongue. Why could I not understand them? I felt I had been freed from the walls and the bars just to be isolated in another world. I vowed this would never happen to me again. From that point on, school became my source of life, and education my freedom. In some of my classes I excelled and was labeled as “gifted” and in those subjects that proved to be more challenging, like English, I worked extra hard to succeed.
Now as a senior, I no longer feel like an alien, though politicians and many people still refer to me as one. The storm is not over yet, but I can already see the sun rising behind the dark clouds and it feels warm and soothing. Writing this essay in English, a language that at one point was foreign to me, gives me the feeling of success. It proves that I am capable of doing and overcoming anything; all that is necessary is knowledge and perseverance. Today, it is still fun to compete in class to get the best grades. It’s also fun to play in the rain, even though I am a bit older. Struggling to break a language barrier, and of course that other barrier – the border – has given me the determination to continue on with a higher education. I must pursue my dream of becoming a doctor so that I can be someone and live a prosperous life, an opportunity I never would have had in my native country.