PLEASE STOP AND READ: For the last weeks I have posted about the DREAM Act, well today you will put a face into the issue. Pleas all who are “my friends” in facebook take a moment and read the cry of one student that translate into the cry of many more, and if you have time leave your comment:
“The airplane glides through day and night as I wonder what will happen when we reach our destination— The United States of America, the land of the Free, the Land of opportunity. At five years old, an age when nothing is everything and no worries castrate your mind, I follow my parents free to run and play not understanding the risks we are taking. But the older we grow, the more turbulent our lives become. Instant fatigue infuses our legs as we resist crashing down, our backs do not break they shatter to pieces, our minds flood with blood’s stress stench and infect us to revolting measures. Dealing with the aftermath is the most painful of all stages to go through, that is, if we even weathered the storm. This is the life of an undocumented immigrant.”— Patricio Gonzalez, “College in a Coffin Speech”
DREAM Act: a Moral Duty
Prejudice is a virus,so widespread, worse than HIV, which dehumanizes our brothers and sisters— rendering its victims garbage at the power’s disposal. According to our class’s discussion based on our book Everyday Morality by Mike W. Martin, the biological perspective states that prejudice is innate to the human being, aiding our survival. I do not oppose this theory on the basis of its being factual or not, but I oppose it on our biological ability to discern between right and wrong (also known as our Duty), taking into account that the average person is mentally healthy enough to make such decision. Human kind used to be a society of hunters and gatherers, but over time we evolved into farmers, then we moved to cities and created more structured societies. Just as this is the case, times have evolved and so has our mental awareness of bigotry’s disastrous outcomes: the killing of Native Americans across the world, enslavement (old and new) of minority groups, and more covert discrimination rooted in traditions. Our laws have also followed suit in an attempt to prevent such historic actions from reoccurring and to protect individual and society’s rights of equality on different levels, one of which being education.
My organization, called Youth for Youth, advocates for equal educational opportunities for minority students. Recently the DREAM Act has been in the news; as a matter of fact, it has been in the news for about a year. This bill would allow 2.1 million undocumented students who were brought to the United States by their parents before the age of sixteen, are in good moral standing, have graduated from a U.S. high school or attained a GED, and resided in the states for five consecutive years to enlist in the armed forces or attend college. In turn the student will receive conditional resident status for ten years, and then be able to apply for permanent residence, and then after three years be able to apply for citizenship. It is a long, strenuous process. It is in no way a free ride, amnesty, or another of the numerous unfair mythical titles it has been given.
In order to put pressure on our congressmen and community to support this bill, Youth for Youth put on an event called “College in a Coffin.” At the Memphis City School Board of Education on July 25, 2010, we had a funeral procession. A child-sized coffin, all black, filled with diplomas, awards, recommendation letters, and college applications packed the coffin. Candles were lit and the coffin was placed in front and center. Each member gave a speech commemorating our dead dreams. No one could miss it; the blind could hear our dreams whistle bye; the deaf could smell our incinerating hopes; and those in denial were presented with reality in front of their eyes. It is important to note that this was a state-wide effort in which DREAMers from Nashville also had a coffin and a similar action. Memphis joined them in their action, and both groups delivered the coffins to Senator Corker’s office. It was the first joint action we had in Tennessee. It was the beginning to a state-wide coalition.
DREAMers brought the discussion to the forefront of the political debate, but still many wished to hear nothing about it.
Many opt out of discussing or even thinking about this national dilemma by saying, “It’s just politics. They are illegal. Send them back home.” I have a problem with this quick and simple escape. This quote is in direct violation of each person’s duty to act and as a matter of fact, to act in the right way, as each of us has the ability to discern between right and wrong (as stated above). Those who take the simple approach treat those affected as a mere complications in their lives, and life is not simple. Therefore the conclusion they have come to cannot be as clear cut as they present it. In conclusion, it is wrong become involved, or make quick judgments.
Not to mention, this quick, thoughtless conclusion treats us as a means to solve the problem, and forget to treat us as ends in ourselves. It is also an erroneous conclusion which further emphasizes the racist attitudes fueled further by the hard economic times. Instead of working together with these children in order to help them succeed in the country they love and in turn help the U.S., their home, most politicians and ordinary bigots opt to throw us aside, failing to realize that what helps us also helps them. There are many statistics that state that the DREAM acts passing would boost the economy and do this and that, but as a society in the land of the free and home of the brave, this issue is not about money or logistics but about human beings who have the power to effect change by doing the correct thing and helping other human beings in a time of need.
Dreams are dreams until those dreams become reality or turn into nightmares.
Note: If you would like to contact Patricio please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org