Saturday, April 10, 2010

The reality of hiding, I cannot take this anymore...

Today, was a crazy day. First, the NYSYLC kicked off their "Trail of Dreams" in support of undocumented youth and the passage of the Dream Act. We were scheduled to walk for 7 miles in the inaugural "trail" from noon to 3pm. (We did start at noon, but actually finished at 5:30!) Anyway, many came and walked to show their support for immigrant youth and our quest for legalization.

But this day, I'll remember most for is that I came out in a Korean newspaper article for the Dream Act, which coincidented with the "Trail of Dreams". The article (whose title is the heading) detailed how I initially discovered my undocumented status, as well as my journey from college to my present day situation. It also talked about my activism at Brown University and my desire to work for ALL undocumented youth (an estimated 3 Million) in the U.S. And, the thing that I wanted to do differently for this article was to stress a hopeful message as I realized that "few" undocumented youth have died tragically (via suicide. Especially, one very recently.) That's not something I wished to talk about, but I felt I had to. I had wanted to raise awareness, which would lead them to find support, which ultimately would save lives. Basically, to give them hope to move them out of their state of depression, despair, and anxiety. That even without paperwork, they too can be "out and proud" and make their lives better.

Remember, there are very few Asian-American Dream Act Activist, and my picture made the paper! I'm pretty sure I was the first one (or one of the first) who ever talked about this openly, in the New York (Korean) newspaper!

However, my "openess", or activism did come at a price. My parents, esp my mom, became furious over the article. They questioned me, asking me why I was being so open and "out" there. "Why are you putting us in danger?!", she screamed. "And how is this helping the Dream Act?!" I would reply, "People are dying. I couldn't not think about them. I wanted to let others know that there is hope and not to give up." She answered back, "Then what are you going to do, save everybody?" My response, "Sure, let it be on my shoulders then."

This actually reminded me of a scene in The Dark Knight between Bruce Wayne and Alfred.

(Background: The Joker had been killing innocent people to make Batman take off his mask. He was "bloodying" Bruce's hands, basically forcing him to retire.)

Bruce: People are dying, Alfred. What would you have me do?

Alfred: Endure, Master Wayne. Take it. They'll hate you for it. But that's the point of Batman, he can be the outcast. He can make the choice that no one else can make, the right choice.

And yes, Bruce couldn't endure it. He quit (initially). But that was just a movie. What happens when this is real life? Then I think you have to make the hard choices. The most difficult choices are the ones that reveal your character and eventually show you what your made of. And time will tell, if this was the right choice.

Yes, I know my parents are angry. They have a lot at stake. And I might not be the legendary "Batman". But I do hope this blows over in my family. It might take some time though. Maybe a lot of time. Its just that I felt I owed it to the Jong-Min's out there to work for the Dream Act. To be "out" there at Brown. To be on the radio. To be in journalism projects. To be in newspaper articles, which includes the Pacific Citizen last September. After all, 1 in 5 South Koreans are undocumented. And, the rate may even be higher. (Esp, in this post 9/11 world.) And if all these students happen to graduate college - like I did 7 years ago - and the Dream Act still hasn't passed, then what's out there for them? That's right - nothing at all. That's why we so desperately need the Dream Act. We need it to move on with our lives. To stop being afraid AND to have peaceful families, especially if one is such an open and honest Activist (in a very stereotypical Asian family.)