Saturday, December 25, 2010

Devastating A Dream & Witnessing Another

cross posted from my Media Justice column

I’m really devastated right now and that kind of distracts me from writing from a certain space and perspective. Knowing that the Senate blocked the DREAM Act really bothers me (and if you think it was all Republicans who were against it think again). Here at Amplify we’ve covered the DREAM Act for the entire year, and the work and activism many of our peers are doing to fight for this act passing.

So what messages are we receiving when DREAM Act is not passed? What questions do we have to ask ourselves about the people who we democratically elected and put in power? How will the continued works of activists shift? What role do we now all have to play to ensure this passes? Are we each willing to donate or volunteer directly with DREAMers?

One of the first messages I think this sends us is that the US does not value knowledge or education. Now, we already know this to be true, especially with the lack of comprehensive sexuality education. After all, many of us know that education is a form of power. Being able to produce knowledge, inside and outside of a ‘traditional’ classroom is power. Creating a community of critical thinkers is seen as a threat.

This is the message I get when DREAM Act is not passed. Knowledge and critical thinking are power, and when young people have those things they are a threat.

It’s as if the folks in the Senate were never young, never a part of any movement over the past 40 years (ok maybe some of them weren’t). To live in a country where youth have been at the front and center of movements in this nation from the Civil Rights Movement, Disability Rights, Reproductive Rights, and Immigrant Rights, and have established some of the most amazing parts of this country, then to have that history ignored is devastating and shameful.

We need to remember this. We need to remember for when we are older not to ever do the same thing that has happened here. We cannot become those adults who misuse their privileges, lack empathy, and turn away from establishing and upholding the right to knowledge and power that is transformative.

My homegirl Paz mentioned on Twitter: “The DREAM [a]ct would have passed if the military enlistment requirement were the only condition for residency.” I have to admit that I agree with her. We live in a country that values the lives of our youth enough to send them to war, hope they become Veterans and then can have access to “socially acceptable welfare benefits” as my homegirl Kim B. states. Yet, the US don’t value our youth enough to educate them, encourage them to read, learn to write, and challenge themselves, their peers, and educators.

And the US definitely doesn’t value queer or LGBTQ youth or people enough to want them educated, but they can serve in the military. Make no mistake that DREAMers are queer too! I’m not knocking peoples’ choices to volunteer to join the US military. They are doing work that is incredibly important, even though they will not always be loved and supported the way they should/need to be. That is an amazing act of love and pride. What does it mean that the US won’t allow that same type of love by people who were brought to this country as minors by their parents, or who fled war, rape, murder, abuse, and have created a home here and want to do the same?

It is difficult to separate these issues because they are one in the same. The nation-state has chosen to allow the people they value the least to risk their lives for a set of laws and rules that won’t protect them if they come back alive. There is not too much I can celebrate right now.

On a positive note, one that reminds me that change is possible, that love is revolutionary and transformative, and that the work we do as a community is powerful: my homegirls Stacey aka Cripchick and Mia Mingus have found an accessible place to live together in the Bay area! They chronicled their search and fundraising efforts publicly for us to witness on their Tumblr page The Other Side of Dreaming. As two young women of Color with disabilities living in the US south and wanting to move, they knew the challenges they would face. As Stacey had written, it is rare for people with disabilities to move their geographic location in such ways; especially to establish an independent living space that centers them.

This week Stacey wrote to Mia and shared with us that they have found a space to call home. This is part of their dream and knowing they have achieved it with the support and love of their community allows me and reminds me to dream bigger. When you reach a goal/dream, it’s permission to keep dreaming and to imagine a new dream that is larger and grander than the last. Now that is inspiration! It’s that inspiration that I know DREAMers and the dreamers in us all will continue to fight for the power we all have, deserve and will not misuse, but use to create new spaces for others to grow.

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