Monday, November 12, 2012

When belonging is a double edge sword



Ironic to think that for the longest time, I longed to belong to something. Primarily, I searched and craved to find and connect with other folks who are in the same boat as me. Being undocumented, growing up in the US for the majority of our formative years and understanding the struggles our status entails. For years it seemed like I was alone and no one could relate to these experiences.

However, when I did find others like me. When I read stories about them in newspapers, saw videos and saw that there was a movement of undocumented individuals coming together and connecting to help each other out, I didn't hesitate to throw myself in the mix and become involved in whatever capacity I had. I didn't question, critically think and analyze anything. I just wanted to belong to something and connect with my peers because I didn't want to feel alone anymore.

It's only now after putting my time in the trenches, seeing folks come and go and knowing the history of how the movement grew here in Southern California that I had a change of heart. Now adays, I find myself trying to detach and disconnect myself from the very movement that help me be the person that I am now. Back in the day, I never questioned anyone or anything because I was new to everything.

I didn't have any experience organizing, conducting meetings, creating strategy or any of the stuff I'm able to do now. No, back in the day I accepted everything that came my way and if you were against that, then you were against us, the movement. I think about those days and I shake my head at how things went down, how things worked and how everything was just jumbled together. We were all just a bunch of college students trying to figure out things on top of trying to balance our lives.  

But that's just part of growing up and maturing. I've only been around the movement for around six years give or take. I'm old enough to be part of the first generation of "dreamers" and to witness some of the defining moments that have lead the movement to where it is now, not only in Southern Cali, but all over the US. I'm from that first batch of folks that paved the way for thousands of others to follow behind us in all sorts of shapes and forms.

It's only now that I am a little older and have reflected on my past that I realize that I gave up too much of my own voice and identity when I first became involved with the movement. I was so quick to let others guide me because I was insecure about what I was doing. I let others speak for me because I wasn't confident about own life. I let everyone else decide what was best for me because I didn't have enough confidence in myself and what I was doing to push and back different.

That to me is the biggest joke. That for so long in my life, I longed to be part of something greater and to connect with others on a deeper level because of my undocumented status. Now that I have made those connections and I know that I am not alone, I want nothing more than to get away from it and from everyone that still carries on that legacy of putting on a show for the media to garner sympathy for support. Still, I'm glad I had the experiences I've had and the folks I have met because if it wasn't for any of that stuff, I never would have found the kind of confidence and self assurance I have today.


2 comments:

Shaima Parveen said...

Undocumented Mexican Immigrant Interview
Hello El Random Hero, my name is Shaima Parveen. My 9th grade English class is currently working on a project centered about the concepts of empathy and misunderstandings (stereotypes, biases, etc.) in our society. My English teacher contacted you previously about serving as a resource for me; I want to conduct a personal interview on the topic of undocumented Mexican immigrants and how they are misunderstood. I understand you may consider yourself a member of this group, know someone in this group, or work closely with people associated with this group. I have included my interview questions below. I would like to receive a response back by Thursday. Any help you can provide would be wonderful. Thank you so much for your time and participation!
1) Many undocumented immigrants came to America for a better lifestyle. Others have fled to America due to oppression in their homelands. What about you? What motivated you come to America?
2) Many Americans unconsciously use terms like “illegal aliens” to classify undocumented immigrants. Even in American dictionaries, undocumented immigrants are defined as “illegal aliens.” How do you feel about the use of such derogatory terms, used to refer to undocumented immigrants, like you? How would you react if someone called you an “illegal alien”?
3) Some people believe undocumented immigrants are depriving Americans of jobs by accepting manual labor and other jobs Americans refuse to do for cheaper pay. Do you agree are disagree with this belief? Please explain.
4) On October 10, 2012, a US border patrol agent shot 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez. The border patrol agent claimed Rodriguez was throwing rocks at him and he was only defending himself from Rodriguez. Do you believe the border patrol agent was justified in killing Rodriguez?
5) Have you ever experienced firsthand or witnessed victimization as an undocumented immigrant? Please describe your experience.
6) Many Americans believe undocumented Mexican immigrants are after the economic benefits in America. Yet, they are unaware of the fact that most undocumented immigrants only receive meager salaries and live in considerably cheap apartments. How are your current living conditions? Do you live like most Americans?
7) According to most Americans who oppose undocumented Mexican immigrants residing in the U.S., “America is a land of laws.” Is it always important to abide by the law even under such circumstances? Please explain.
8) Do you have any children that are native-born U.S. citizens? If so, do they receive the same treatment as you do in American society? Please explain.
9) In the TV series 30 Days, directed and hosted by Morgan Spurlock, two groups who have opposite stances on an issue are forced to live together. In the episode “immigration”, Frank George, a minuteman who is passionate about ending undocumented immigration, is forced to a live with a family of undocumented Mexican immigrants. Frank George is an immigrant of Cuban descent who has crossed the border legally with proper documentation. Do you feel that Frank George, who is of Cuban descent, is a hypocrite for wanting to end illegal immigration? Please explain your answer.
10) Do you want to be better understood by Americans? Why or why not?

I appreciate your help.

Thank You
Shaima Parveen

El Random Hero said...

Hi Shaima, if you want, email me these questions and I might be able to get back to you before thursday.