Opening the door to Columbia’s College 624 building and seeing the empty shelves of the fully stocked bookstore , I ask “Do you have the Theory Toolbox?” The man seemingly squatting behind the counter says, “Yes” then goes to the one of two shelves that have books, stares with a lost look for a second as he processes the myriad of academic blues, whites, blacks all with different hues of times new roman fonts.
He hands me the book. I head up to the cashier, a woman in her 60’s with a faint afro-centric feel to her, short cut gray hair and sounding like my Auntie she reads my shirt out loud “Do I Look Illegal?” She says, staring up intently with that storyteller’s look in her eye, “Yeah you do. And so do I, especially up here– I remember when you couldn’t come up here.” I awkwardly agree just as if she was my Auntie about to go one of those long winded stories and walked out the door into the summer heat on Michigan Ave.
Do I Look ‘Illegal’? I guess it all depends on what year you was born and what street you stand on. As a person born in the U.S. I wonder where my fight is in immigration reform?
I learned through life that taking away someone’s ability to advocate for themselves is in of itself a form of oppression. So as an ally, how do I fight and not block other who may be undocumented from fighting for their own better future?
Chant, chant loudly “Undocumented, Unafraid!” until it means more to me than it ever did.
Write, Write… EDIT. Use whatever aptitude I have to write a press release,petition letters, manifesto and then rewrite and rewrite.
Listen, listen, and listen. I don’t know the experience and I have to understand that but hearing people out and knowing where they are coming from is a step in the right direction.
Ask redundant question, everything moves so fast, keep asking until you find out and find out how you can assist.
All of the Above
Well these won’t always be the answers, but there truly are none.
I still consider myself really new to the movement and still have a lot to learn. I guess the test of my will as an ally is getting up on days you feel like a cement block to rally, protest, organize, advocate and talk. I’ve found myself in bed a few Sunday mornings thinking, “What does it mean for me to not get up an go? Does that mean I’ve grown tired of this movement and can walk away with my papers and privilege in hand?”
I get up think about the fact every movement happened a day at a time. That the least I could do is get up from my privilege. I think about the friends I would lose, the families separated and how everyone should be able to see their Grandma. And the fact that my roommate has a picture of a his school janitor, who was deported, hanging in his room and speaks about the summer when dandelions were as thick as his arm and a man who brought them their own machete to clear the “too steep” hill…
I would say that when I chant “UNDOCUMENTED UNAFRAID!” I am saying we should, as human beings, change the current immigration system so that parents and children, wives and husbands and uncles and aunties will be Unafraid to lose moments with loved ones to the hand of ICE and deportation proceedings.That’s what it means to me when I chant.
More Love and Less fear,