Blog Post

DREAM activism and being "unafraid"

"Undocumented and unafraid."
This is the slogan of the DREAM activists who continue to fight for more than "deferred action."  They want a more urgent and inclusive pathway to citizenship, both for themselves and the millions of other differently qualified illegal immigrants currently in our country.  I think that their efforts are bold and very smart.  In following them, however, it's plain to see that their being "unafraid" does not mean that they still don't have very valid fears, including deportation.  Rather, to be "undocumented and unafraid" means they they refuse to let their "illegal" status inhibit them from challenging the legitimacy of not just the law itself but also hegemonic understandings of terms like "american," "freedom" and even "human."
Though the immigration debate is quite complex, I'd thus like to reiterate the simple yet powerful strategy of  "coming out" about not just certain aspects of our personal identities, but also certain causes that we are ready to grant a more public and even aggressive commitment.  As academics, I think we could all do well to check ourselves with this question:  how could I, also, be more unafraid? In other words, what parts of my teaching and researching agendas are the riskiest and, as such, likely the most politically relevant.  This might encourage us to identify ourselves not just by our own specializations but also our vulnerabilities and, in this sense, 
potentialities.  I am a feminist scholar of Latin American aesthetics and politics who also happens to be from white, suburban and notoriously reactionary Arizona. It's not normal and, in certain contexts, it's admittedly daunting.  For academia, as we all know, is this weird world with both exceptionally flexible and surprisingly strict regulatory borders.  DREAMers, however, are a reminder that norms, like laws, are made not simply to be broken; rather, they are made to be remade, both expansively and indefinitely. 

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