As I sat there and watched the Dream Act hearing on Tuesday June 28, 2011, I didn’t feel much of anything. No tears were shed and no hope was revived because all I heard were the same talking points, the same promises. It’s so sad having to sit around and watch these privileged men speak for me without knowing me. It’s sad seeing the same stories being highlighted and the same stories being hidden from the public as if they were a disgrace after so many years. However, a few miles away youth were getting ready to speak out for themselves.
Georgia. Beautiful warm Georgia was taken over by youth ready to stand up, or should I say sit down, against HB87 which empowers police officers to act as immigration agents, creating fear within the immigrant communities. I remember back in October of 2010 the Board of Regents made the decision to ban undocumented youth from attending Georgia’s top 5 colleges and universities. These are some of the reasons why these young people partook in an act of civil disobedience.
I was at work completely aware that the live streaming for the sit-in started at 2pm. All I could think about was Felipe, a 24-year-old beloved activist from Chicago living in New York, who became a member of the New York state youth leadership council a few months back. He made his way through the streets totally undocumented, unafraid and unapologetically chanting with his fist high in the air alongside 5 other youth named Dulce Guerrero, 18; Jessica Vasquez, 18; Rolando Zenteno, 16; Nataly Ibarra, 16; 24; and Leeidy Solis, 16. That’s right, 16 year olds. When I was 16 I was definitely not part of a civil disobedience.
Watching this sit-in brought tears to my eyes and I got goose bumps more than once. I got to witness courage and liberation; ironically handcuffs bring about freedom, in the form of youth sitting in the street surrounded by support and love. They were arrested while chanting with their head held high like equals. Their spirits were not broken. They only chanted louder. That’s the way I envision a movement to be: liberating.
These, in my opinion, are the top 8 images of the 4 civil actions that have been put together by The Dream Is Coming project.
On May 17th 2010 the first civil disobedience by undocumented youth took place in Tucson, Arizona. Mohammad Abdollahi, Yahaira Carrillo, Lizbeth Mateo, Lizbeth Mateo, and Raul Alcaraz are pictured.
The Dream 21 was the second act of civil disobedience after the Arizona 5. These activists were arrested in Washington DC months before the vote in December. Different colors, different gowns, different states- but the same dream. Youth are pushing the boundaries in this picture (while tweeting as well).
Yes, she is waving while being arrested. I know, crazy, huh? Some may say this is a total royalty wave but in my eyes she was waving to her friends, family, supporters and the media world letting them know there is nothing to be scared of. A wave that assured everyone that everything was going to be fine and that this action shouldn’t bring sadness.
Georgina Perez was arrested in Georgia, her home state, because she refuses to accept the fact that youth are being banned from college. She is a badass, the cops are scared of her and this picture proves it. This picture shows that this movement is about facing our fears.
This is one of my favorite pictures for the simple fact that everyone is smiling and standing up straight while the cop helps Dayanna with her cap. There’s no fear, inequality or authority in this picture.
These are the 6 students who got arrested in Georgia. Just the fact that they all have a fist up is completely awesome. Check out the solidarity in this picture and fierce fearlessness.
This is Felipe. There is so much power in this picture that it makes me want to chant, march, scream and take on the world all at once.
Of course being part of a civil disobedience isn’t all fun and games. It can be very intimidating and overwhelming. Andrea Rosales aka Shawty Peach had a lot of personal issues she had to deal with, and she decided to walk out of the action in Washington DC. However, months later she found herself being arrested in Georgia, completely empowered and determined. For whatever reason many of us don’t take part in civil disobediences and that is fine too. This is a personal choice not a requirement. This picture is proof of how difficult yet beautiful this struggle really is. And I don’t mean just a civil disobedience, but the whole package.
Whatever your role is in this movement, play it, and play it with your whole heart!