Monday, March 24, 2008

Leaving the Hungry Kids in the Donut Shop

As i help my brother with college applications and scholarships i realize how frustrating it has been for him as a DREAMER. He was brought to the states before I was; that is, he has spent all of his schooling in the United States and has not known any different. I came here when i was 13 and adjusted fine, but i came to terms with my status and limitations sooner than later. He is 18 years old now and now just realizes the misfortunes of being a dreamer and everything that comes with it.

When i say everything that comes with it, i mean: anger, depression, tears, frustration and a lot of questions. He is always asking me how come he can't get a driver's license, how come he can't work, how come there is so much opposition on the DREAM Act. You might think that it is a little naive, but he has lived a very different life than i have. He has had the opportunity to go to a school where he is one of the only Latinos in his classes, his friends are non-Latinos for the most part, and the majority of the school population is of wealthy families.

Somebody this weekend made the comparison of leaving a hungry kid in a donut shop but not allowing him to eat any. My brother has been in the donut shop for too long now and he has never been allowed to eat any; there, just staring at all the sweets with his hands tied.

I have come to beleive that i need to stop victimizing myself and enough feeling sorry for our situation as DREAMERs, we need to start doing and stop whining. Yes, this is still true in my theory and practice it everyday for the most part, but we can't all be strong and sometimes these situations of frustration and denial get the best of us. I know it has gotten the best of me at times.

I have come across many younger students, friends, family, and online forums of Dreamers that are under a lot of stress and depression. Many of them feel shame for being undocumented. How to break the news to their boyfriends, girlfriends, or friends that they are undocumented or that they cant go get a driver's license. How do they explain that it is not that they are lazy without a job at 22 years of age, but rather that nobody would hire them.

I used to not understand why many could feel ashamed of being undocumented, but now i understand this a lot better. It is not that they feel ashamed of being dreamers, but rather the pressure of being demonized from every angle. All you have to do is look at the college and scholarship applications to begin to understand this. The requirements from many scholarships are no joke; first requirement you must be a citizen. College applications (most) have the citizen category... what to do here?!

I think that this is a major topic that we don't touch a lot on. The stress and depression that dreamers go through in unbelievable. Maybe now that some of us dreamers are older we are able to assimilate the situation a lot better and we are able to deal with it better. It is our job however to help the younger students with talks, mentoring, and helping them walk through the process as we once were.

Image obtained here

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