Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Political Growing Pains

The act of being politicized was never something new to me, but taking action was. It’s only in these last few years that I have taken action in support, solidarity and/or against numerous issues. But the one issue that brought me into the fray of things was one that affected me directly and inherently, selfish. It was the Federal Dream Act. My foundation has been built on being selfish.

Up in till then, music, comics, video games and some television had sowed in me ideas, notions and ideals of social justice, but the connections were never made. There was never a spark to light something in me and push me to do something about it. More than anything, that was on me because I was and in many ways, still am a nihilist. My personal experience growing up left me longing for what I didn’t have and instead of doing something positive about it, I let it fester into something negative.

There was this one time at a party, someone was asking me which political figures I admired. Who were the folks that I looked up that helped me be socially conscious. The fact that I was cross faded aside, I replied by naming Peter Parker, The X-Men, and a few other fictional characters. When the same person asked me again when I was sober, I gave him the same answers. He thought I was yanking his chain, but I was just being honest. Fictional characters have more impact in my life than any individual you can think of.

 In more ways than I can count, this is a direct reflection of how I interact, work, and socialize in these “political” spaces. I’ve met countless of individuals, all coming from different experiences, but all sharing a passion for improving the lives of others and fighting injustice. There are those who I have tremendous respect for and those who I could care less if they got head butted by a goat.

I’ve been privileged to find myself in amazing spaces, working with incredible people. Simultaneously, I’ve been able to learn from and grow with individuals that have made impacts that will not be recognized within our life times. I can accredit my current string of good fortune to the relationships and work I have done with these folks.

But for all the growing I have done, and have yet to do, my foundational beliefs have never been set. For years I’ve been able to do the work that I do with a simple situational fa├žade. Reacting rather than planning. Never having enough time to do anything right. Always off balance in more ways than one. Just trying to make it through to the next day. Next month. Next year.

It’s only been a year that I’ve had steady employment and a couple of months since I’ve had a stable living situation. Having those two alone gave me the breathing room I needed. Its also been instrumental in giving me a space to reflect on the work I have done the last few years, where it has taken me, who I’ve met, what I’ve been able to accomplish because of it and to plan for what has yet to come.

When I decided to take action, I did it for one simple reason, to be there, where no one was there for me. When I graduated from high school, I had no ambitions to speak of. Add being undocumented to the mix, and I basically had no will to live on. I just went through motions. Years later, all it took was someone believing in me, and not even that, just someone giving me positive reinforcement to enroll in college and strive for something better.

Adding to this confusion was the fact that I didn’t have access to resources or information in any shape or form. One of the things I enjoyed doing the most when I first got involved was doing AB 540 workshops. (AB 540 is a CA law that allows undoc individuals who qualify, pay in-state tuition at public colleges.) I was sharing information on how to continue on to school and where to get support to parents, high school students and other college students. I never said no to a request because I always thought back to how things would have been different for me if someone gave me one of those presentations.

Things have changed dramatically, but that was my call to take action. Now a days, I have more motivation to go get tacos than to go to a march and there’s something wrong with that. Not because I don’t believe in the work or the fight, but because it’s all monotonous. Things are nothing like when I first started for the better and for the worse. And all I see is the worst.