It was earlier this year that a tweet from Tania Unzueta let me know something big was happening. “My name is Tania Unzueta, and I am undocumented. #comingout #fb” is pretty much how it went. As one of the organizers of Chicago’s Dyke March and a major force in Chicago’s place in immigration reform, I knew that this wasn’t an empty post, and soon enough the momentum coincided with Arizona’s hateful, backtracking law. Fast forward to May 17th and I read from Tania’s twitter, “Just watched four courageous dreamers get arrested #cantstopwontstop. My job just began.” Tania and other students had travelled to Arizona and were engaged in a sit-in at Senator McCain’s office; The Dream Act was now going to be national news. The New York Times ran this unfortunately titled article about the protest, the students were eventually released, and TPR got a pingback from Conservative Hideout, a blog dedicated to intellectualized Tea Party ideals for those that don’t care to do any research or think about ideas in a realistic way. In the post, Conservative Hideout questions the status of the protestors as actual students, assumes some liberal corporation has funded their trip and also paid someone to make the Dream Act’s website. It also attempts to “uncover” information about Tania as investigative journalism. Dummies.
A fundamental oversight by CH is that Tania is out of the closet. Being “out,” in the traditional sense for queer people is telling your friends, family and c0-workers about your identity. Outness is a polical act – it forces dialogue through awareness, and has always been the primary impetus for progress. To apply this principle to your undocumented status is not only remarkable in its simplicity, it’s also brilliant in it effectiveness. Latinos, being the largest growing (and frequently cited to be the largest by percentage) ethnic minority in the United States are potentially a powerful force. To be out as undocumented means that most everyone could know someone who is on the path towards citizenship, and will unavoidably bring support to individuals and the larger movement. Up until now, someone getting deported was hushed up. Or unnoticed. Or part of a headline grabbing, anonymous raid. Outness as part of immigration reform this the largest step towards awareness and change that I have seen in my lifetime.
Another blatantly ignorant generalization that Conservative Hideout makes is that since these protestors are undocumented, they have no skills, education, individual drive or, in a nutshell, humanity. CH questions ”who their funders are,” “who made their website” and challenges the validity of their student status using quotation marks and mocking their caps and gowns. Perhaps the only thing CH gets right is calling this a emotional plea. Indeed, if you have a heart, you can see how fucking emotional this is. However, if you are racist and misguided, you would ONLY see this as an emotional ploy.
*Video by Mohammed, one of the sit-in protestors. See more videos about The Dream Act at his youtube page, Dream Activist Dot Org
So, after I got the alert that CH has linked to Tania’s 2009 Top Ten list on TPR, I sent her an email. I just wanted to let her know about the online momentum that her actions had caused, and if she wanted me to change the post or take anything down, I would. She responded with what could be described as satisfied, and commented on the post herself. This is what she wrote at CH:
Hey this is Tania Unzueta, as you can see, I’m the person in the pictures above. Just to clarify, I am indeed a student, and will be starting my masters degree in Chicago next fall. Yay! Also, just a clarification: none of us participating in this organizing are getting paid. We are all doing this by being volunteers and fund-raising from our own families and friends. This is as real as organizing gets. Thanks for promoting our website! Aren’t we undocumented immigrants talented web designers and organizers?
Not only was she unafraid of this “uncovering” (SHE HAS A WEBSITE!!), she thanked them. I would also like to thank them. Thank you CH, for furthering immigration reform by covering the beginning steps of La Revolucion. Not only did you participate in Tania’s outness effort, not only did you plainly expose your fundie ”journalism,” you also helped document the fact that change is coming by the hands of one of the fiercest women I have ever had the pleasure of working with! Tania Unzueta: Chicana. Chicagoan. Warrior.
Click to keep up with the DREAM Act and the Immigrant Youth Justice League. Or make a donation here. You can request to follow Tania’s tweets at http://twitter.com/ilehlainat . If you want to know up to the minute news on what’s happening in Arizona, keep up with http://altoarizona.com/. Another good read is a recent post by Carlos in DC about the sit-in at McCain’s office.