“Maybe my finger has never pulled the trigger of White supremist crime and violence
Still, I will forever be as guilty as my silence when the color of my skin
grants me privilege for those sins, the crime I do not stand against is as good as mine…”
–Andrea Gibson, “Bullets and Windchimes”
I missed my political science lecture this past Tuesday to attend one of this year’s final protests for immigration reform in Washington, DC. Last April, I missed my favorite spring semester class, English Composition, for the same cause. My professor at that time had some interesting thoughts, something like “my silence in this capitalist society makes me culprit.”
The first impression most people get when they first meet me is that I’m a shy little thing… But it’s not social anxiety that keeps me quiet. I’m an observer. A listener. A notetaker. People are so internally complex— mentally, biologically, and emotionally. It fascinates me.
There are people who have really struck me as a mystery. People who seem to genuinely submit to an ideology of hate and ignorance. If I don’t have anything nice to say, I know to hold my tongue. I’ve held my silence many times:
- at the condescending tone of a DMV representative for realizing I’m a Temporary Protected Status holder
- at the sympathetic but never empathic words of “an ineligible for these benefits” phone call or letter
- at the “words of wisdom” people try to offer even though they don’t know half of my struggles
Compared to other immigrants, my struggles have been few. And people in more difficult situations have overcome. I recognize, I can never feel pity for myself. It’s because I know how better off I am that the undocumented immigrant population matters to me.
It’s not just that a 7 year old little boy should have to stand in a crowd of strangers, on the verge of tears, to recount how he hasn’t seen and misses his deported dad. It’s not just for hardworking Latino high school graduates to quit their dreams because they’re ineligible for financial aid.
No, I don’t believe the 11 million will get justice. Maybe a tainted justice in the form of fees and paperwork. I don’t even believe in direct citizenship… simply the opportunity to get there some day. I’m content with permanent residency (which is all I’m asking after 12+ years of living in the U.S.). It would be reason enough to celebrate. If Congress could get its act together, actions for a “comprehensive immigration reform” would have been taken years ago.