Creating Change 2013 · Uncategorized

“Speaking for Ourselves” My Experience at Creating Change

alex picBy Alex Aldana
Blogging Scholarship Recipient
Closing Thoughts on Creating Change
 
 
 
 

What a week it has been since I ventured on a trip to Atlanta for the very first time in my life. Creating Change definitely left me richer in knowledge and friendships; met amazing individuals, and network with fantastic opportunities around the country. Here are some of my feelings I encounter during my stay.

Undocumented Immigrant rights Activist representing different states and organizations

Successful Inspiration

I could start with the tremendous success of the first latino institute at the conference and the impact it made  all weekend long. A full room with over 130 participants of diverse latino communities across the country and the borders, filled the chairs with powerful ideas and voices.Our energy didn’t need translation since language was not a barrier but a beautiful melody played throughout the rooms; always understood & never neglected. Our traditions and medicine were not a coincidence that Thursday.

I was empowered to connected with undocumented youth from the south and learn on how they would like to see our LGBTQ Latino community more engaged and supportive. All of the  workshops that I attended, the topics of Immigration, Family, Spirituality, LGBTQ Youth Services, Health Disparities and Activism in rural areas definitely made an impact on my ways of thinking.
it was powerful enough to see familiar faces that recognized me and pushed me to attend different workshops, including grant writing and “fun-raising” strategies.

Challenges

Keeping it real, one of my barriers to attend the conference was the lack of money. I felt that it wasn’t as “Community Inviting” as I thought it would be. Meaning that Low-Income Queer people of Color should be aware of these tools and have some representation at this Conference. If it wasn’t for my noisy and curious self, and the part that I helped organize the Latino Institute and blogging here right now, the thought of paying hundreds of dollars to come here, wouldn’t have made me that interested to come at all.

Closing the conference

The Closing Plenary was something I was most enthralled to witness. One of the things we always fight in youth services, advocacy, or even within the Immigrant Youth Movement, is the so called “Linear Representation” that many LGBT organizations have fantasized, particular with DREAMers (political term for Undocumented Youth).

The good moral character, the big non-profit organization with a name and a budget versus the grass-roots organizers, the ones fighting deportations, or even struggling to come to this spaces to represent themselves due to the lack of funding.

Listening to Jose Antonio Vargas, Sousa-Rodriguez, Paulina Helm-Hernandez and Viridiana Martinez represent various organizations and types of work was something much need to decolonize within the concept of a “DREAMers”.

When Jose called out Fredy’s name, and to see him rise in front of the hundreds of people present at the plenary, was indeed the most rewarding feelings. Weeks before the conference I outreached to Fredy because I believe in community engagement. He needed the help to get an attorney, and I was excited to see him being approached by some folks and hopefully to get good representation. He needs that ankle-bracelet monitor out of the way.

Most importantly, it was much need to have a gender-balanced conversation: the Women at the plenary sure did know how to step it up! From listening to Paulina contradicting Vargas on the terms of defining our identities (Americans) to actually acknowledging the fact that we don’t need to sell our indigenous roots nor cultures of origin to be part of society, to my favorite moment when Viridiana and Sousa debated  ceremoniously on a battle of words with the Term “Illegal vs. Undocumented”

Although I’m always “educating” with the “undocumented shield” ,to Correct a woman from their personal perspective and opinion, is something I grew up with in my culture. Something we still see everyday, and as queer privileged males, we need to step back and honor those spaces and check ourselves.

“Living in the south people don’t know what Undocumented means, we need to take it back on own it, and stand up to what they’re familiar with, stand up, organize and show that we are no longer afraid. Yes I’m an “Illegal”, and I breath, and I bleed, and I’m as much human being as you are”. Martinez finished the interruption, challenging the other panelists and the audience by an outstanding ovation.

Many of the advocates forget about this principle. We called ourselves the leaders right… But are we really making leaders? It is our obligation to invite those who are not as involved or visible. Those who haven’t had the experience. We don’t need to take up space  if we lack the ability to inspire new minds in the struggle.

I see brave bloggers and queer advocates, but I also see courageous women stopping deportations, challenging our culture and creating safe spaces all across the country, making art, making chants, organizing campaigns nationwide.

Borrowing shamelessly what Angela Davis resonates every time I hear her speak from poet June Jordan :

“We are the ones we have been waiting for”.

So let’s not wait for our big organizations to speak for us and decide our messaging on what’s to come for this Immigration Reform circus. Take a stand, challenge your own consciousness, the time is now. Dehumanizing deportations and separation of families continue to happen every day. Are they less worthy than us?

Creating Change 2013 · Uncategorized

Setting the tone: Crafting an Agenda for the Black LGBT Community.

Trevoi pic
 
 
   
    Trevoi Crump
   Guest Blogger 
   Setting the tone: Crafting an Agenda for the Black LGBT Community.
 

Ha, so you’re probably thinking, did he attend any other workshop where NBJC was not present? Yes! Yes, I did. However, NBJC and there resources were most beneficial to a lot of questions that I had upon arriving at Creating Change. Once again, this workshop was powerful, and also a little heated. I noticed during this presentation that when you place too many authoritive figures on a panel, things could either go well or things go go relatively bad. I believe during this particular presentation it was combination of both. Serving on the panel were many different people from different arenas of life such as: Earl Fowlkes, Jr – Center for Black Equity, Aisha Moodie-Mills – Center for American Progress, Stacy Long – National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Kylar Broadus – Trans People of Color Coalition and Curtis Lipscomb – Executive Director, KICK – The Agency for LGBT African Americans.

Many issues were discussed in the workshop, one that stuck out was how do we get better resources for the Black LGBT community, that are effective, so that we’re including the entire community. I learned that it will take work within ourselves before this can be accomplished. We continue to marginalize those issues in the Black Gay Community, that we don’t find to be important. And then we question why we don’t have accurate or up to date data. We as a community, need to produce more national surveys based around the Black LGBT community. Nonetheless, talking about these ideas is one thing. We need to identify exactly how to bridge the gap between not saying how we will achieve it, but actually achieving it! We must understand that many things that happen in our communities start with us! The question was posed “What is at stake if the Black LGBT community can’t seem to get our wealth together?” It was stated very simple. We as a race, won’t be here! It falls back to the power that consumes money and people. We have the peoople, but wheres the money. The Black LGBT community, has an extreme issue with complaining about the affects of what happens in our community. But we never donate to support each other, we can go out and pay $.475 for lattes or $40,000 for a car knowing we can’t afford it… but won’t set aside $20 to help build up resources for our community! Earl Fowlkes stated “We can’t continue to lift up one community. We have to lift everyone up, we are our brothers keeper.”

Creating Change 2013

How being an Undocumented Queer Immigrant Brought me to Creating Change

alex pic
By Alex Aldana
Blogging Scholarship Recipient
Recap on the Latino Institute 
 

 

For the first time in 24 years, the National Conference on LGBT Equality Creating Change will be having its first Latino  Institute on Thursday, January 24th, 2013. The day-long institute’s most demanded topic by national organizers will be to discuss the next steps within the Latino LGBTQ community and Immigration and how we can best strategize efforts to bring justice and dignity to both of our communities.

I cannot help but to feel enthralled to meet amazing familia that is dedicated to serve the latino LGBTQ community at a national level and that have made it possible for me to be part of these conversations.

The real excitement however, comes from the community, from the land in the south.Two years ago I had the fear of traveling even within my own community. After Liberating that fear by coming out of the shadows about my legal status, I decided to deport such fear and make it into self-empowerment to mobilize power to the people.

The chills I get on realizing the community in which the conference will be taking place is Georgia, one of the worst  anti-immigrant states in the country ,in which many families had been separated, young undocumented students don’t have rights to go to school, and looking brown on the streets, adds another burden to your identity as a queer person.

That is why, our opening ceremony will be joined by some of the bravest radical DREAMers in Georgia that have made a difference to many families.

Dulce Guerrero, among 2 other queer undocumented youth will be representing the community of Georgia and the National Immigrant Youth AllianceDream Activist GA which has helped prevent many deportations and has fiercely empowered those who continue to resist HB 87 locally ,and the current separation of families that has reached millions of deportations with programs such as Secure Communities and 287g nation-wide”.

queer undocumented youth from Los Angeles

Georgia Dreamers will encourage anyone attending the Institute to helps us build a “Community Altar” with offerings, blessings, pictures, banners and other items that represent your State, Country or Territory. In short, The work that drives you to be part of creating change, the community you serve, present in a visual way.

Participants will be welcomed to simply join the opening ceremony to be part of the circle, which will be blessed with good intentions to follow up with an intense agenda full of energies. The Institute welcomes all types of religious backgrounds and beliefs.

I’m so humbled to be part of this dialogue with the Institute, because equality to me goes beyond false borders and hate in our communities, because It is important for us to speak for our selves and not allow political figures to decide for our future existence in this country.
The complexity of struggle in our queer communities of color goes beyond Marriage Equality, it is about dignity and respect as human beings.

The Altar will be present throughout the day to remind us that even though we might come from different places or have different opinion, migrations continues to open those borders for us to work together as freely as they did hundreds of years ago, continuing to preserve proudly our culture and our roots, so we can build together a better future.

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