Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Golden Age of being Undocumented

Photo by Aurelio Jose Barrera - Photographer
“The days of hiding and switching names have long been over.” This is my reply to a friend who I helped out with an interview on community cultural wealth when they asked whether they should put my real name down or a pseudo name. After 2010, as Jose Antonia Vargas succinctly put it in his Time Magazine article, the Golden Age of being Undocumented fell upon us, but only for those within the dreamer/immigrant rights movement.

For me to say that we’ve been in a golden age the last three years without acknowledging the million plus people that have been deported, well it would be rather fucked up I should say. However, if you’ve been in the movement, the getting has been good. Folks moved into jobs at non-profits, working for officials, going to their plan B and getting married etc. etc.

A seminal transition of leadership within the movement toking place. Last time I saw this happen was in 2007, when first generation dreamers finished college and the real world beckoned. They suddenly found themselves outside their college organizing spaces, thus they created other spaces in which being in college wasn’t the only way one could participate. (A major key point here in So Cal that lead to the current political atmosphere that we have here AKA drama).
But like I wrote in the beginning, long gone have the days of hiding been. To think that at one point in all this, dreamers were afraid to talk to media about their plights with their real name to now, where we are at the point of chasing the media down so they could get our stories with our real names. Cause we can never have too many movement celebrities right?

Egos’ aside, being in the spotlight has been the only recourse in fighting deportations. If you’re in the public eye, so to speak, and in the movement, then you have support networks that will get you out of trouble if it came down to that. The bigger your name, the less likely authorities are going to fuck with you. We’ve seen it happen time and time again.

More and more documentaries are coming out, profiling dreamers to that quasi celebrity status, putting a so called face behind the issue. Pfffft that’s been happening long before ya’ll “film makers” decided to start filming folks like it’s national geographic. I kid you not, it won’t be long before an undocu-porn comes out. Swear.

At the same time though, there are those of us in the movement that have also reached a level of prominence in terms of being creators and artist. It’s beautiful to see more folks take up telling their stories in their own way, rather than waiting for someone to come along and make a buck of it. Given the current flux in the movement between older folks and newer folks taking over, the diversity of the movement is becoming prominent to those outside of it. 

Even deferred action has played a huge role in this new golden age. DACA open the door for another wave of dreamers to go deeper into the non-profits via jobs, to continue moving forward in their lives or in some cases, to start putting it together for the first time. I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t riding on that same wave $$$. After DACA, news spread across the land as if Frodo has just destroyed the one ring or something, which brought in more folks into the movement.

Yet, as good as we dreamers have, things have been getting worse for everyone else. Deportation numbers keep getting higher, reform isn’t going anywhere, and folks are lining up at the castle gates to make their next move. The thing about golden ages is that, in order for the few to have it good, the many have to have it worse.