Hey Angy, hope all is well. I’m a student from Arizona and I can’t begin to say how inspired, touched, and amazed I am at how this movement has gone through the country.
I was born here and only until recently, with all the awesome awareness that you beautiful people have committed, have I begun to become conscious of this immigration struggle. I was always involved with various organizations, volunteering with various causes and what struck me so passionately about the Dream Act was that it was something that was so hidden…or something that I suppose wasn’t of urgent issue, well obviously I wrong.
I’ve become involved on my school campus, joining the organization that advocates for the Dream Act and undocumented rights. However, I can’t help but feel out of place, besides the fact that the majority of them are undocumented. I feel a bit of guilt and shame sometimes. I do carry various privileges – that I see as blessings – but I help out every way I can. I’m genuinely down for this cause, but sometimes I catch some people looking at me with this face like, “what are you doing here”. The other day, we needed to go pick up some flyers and a banner across town, I volunteered to pay most for it and pick it up too; this one undocumented girl gave me a smirk with a concrete hint of annoyance.
It doesn’t happen too often, but at random times, it hits me and I think, “do they despise me?’ I know I may remind them of the same person who happens to have the same color of skin, speaks a certain way, the person that’s at the forefront of the opposition.
I’m always involved, I’m there for them 100%, so why do I get the (albeit very few) drops of disapproval? I’m not entitled to anything from them, I do what I can and stay out of their way, because I know it’s about letting them be heard. I know I should be the last person to feel like they’ve been victimized, but can a white person even be involved in a cause like this?
I don’t know, maybe its all in my head, but it just bothers me. I’d appreciate any advice or insight, thank you for all you do and to all those Dreamers out there, keep ya head up!
Hello Steward. Thank you for taking a time out to e-mail me. I’m glad you did, this is an advice column for everyone not just undocumented people.
Privilege is something very common within this movement especially within undocumented and documented people. There are some who feel like there are undocumented people who are more privileged than others, but that’s another conversation.
When it comes to being an ally I’m not sure if there is a wrong or right way of doing something, but the only thing I am sure, I wouldn’t like something done half way. A very wise young man named Domenic once said that if an ally was to do half work they might as well not be an ally at all. He stated that when an ally says they are stepping down to let other youth step up suggests this idea that, “I could do so much more for you, but choose not to” which goes back to privilege and half-ass work. I personally, wouldn’t want to work with someone who feels the need to do things half way through.
The beauty of working with documented and undocumented people is the ability to show others that this issue does not affect just one group but everyone. When others see that documented people fight for immigrant rights too, it says something. You’re adding a voice and a story to this issue that no one has heard before and there is nothing wrong with that. I feel like the only problem that comes with this inter-status movement is when undocumented voices are being silenced. Documented people should amplify the stories that exist but not speak for others. We are working to provide a space for undocumented youth to lead and speak out but not to continue to be oppressed. Regardless of what you look like or what your status is I think everyone should be involved and there are many ways to do so. I’ve asked one of our great allies, Norma, about this issue and this is what she has to say:
Don’t let your status stop you from becoming active in the movement. If this is the one thing that is holding you back, breathe and remember you’re not alone. You may think that because you have papers, you shouldn’t participate. Or maybe you feel you are the face of the oppressor since you do have privilege. If you want to join the movement, do it and help out. Believe me, there’s a lot of work to do in order to carry out different campaigns, events, etc and we could always use the extra hands! Help out whether it is flyers, phone calls, event coordination, or take on those tasks that no one can do yet. Don’t let your status stop you, if you have a skill, share it (everyone needs a driver that could be you!)
There’s different people that participate in all types of movements: straights participating in the LGBTQ movement, private sector people supporting union members, different religious groups supporting the building on Mosques, just to name a few.
I can relate to your hesitance a bit, but you have to build the courage to join. Try it out first and see how you feel. Do you see yourself participating more? How do you feel? How do you see yourself growing in the group/organization? You don’t need any pre-requisite in order to join.
A side note: make yourself aware that what you have you didn’t choose, you were born into it. If you could, you would share it with others to have the same privilege as you. I know that by me having a status, I have a different perception. Of course you may not know the challenges faced by undocumented youth, or maybe you did at some point but you don’t live it every day.
In my honest opinion, what I feel sets this movement apart from others is the fact that it is always first and foremost undocumented, youth led and is one of a kind. As an ally, I find nothing more amazing than those that have been put down start going again the norm/status quo and bringing attention in unique styles. But then again that’s just my opinion, so feel free to reach out to your local state group and see how it works. Remember what you should be looking for is a group that represents their base.
Also, here is a very amazing and spunky post by Flavia who states some steps on how to come out as an ally. Everyone has a place in this movement; you’re just finding yours. Don’t stress it because sooner or later things will fall in place. It’ll take time, but I’m sure around you will understand you and accept you. In the mean time we have to start that dialogue.
Email or fill out this form with any questions, concerns, comments or just your own story. This is a space to let it all out! You don’t have to bottle it up inside. Whatever you write is up to you and you will not be judged. Your stories and worries matter! You are not alone. Remember, the insecurities and fears you have, someone else is them having too. Don’t be afraid to speak out.
If you are a fan of the Ask Angy posts..
The views expressed by the author on this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the New York State Youth Leadership Council (NYSYLC)