During coming out week we are highlighting the stories that we told at our National Coming Out of the Shadows Rally: Undocumented, Unafraid, Unapologetic. Lulu is a student and an IYJL organizer. She was one of the 21 undocumented youth who participated in a civil disobedience in Washington D.C. to push for the DREAM Act last summer. This is the text of the speech she gave at the March 10th, 2011 coming out rally in Chicago.
Last week I spoke to 4 undocumented high school students. Unlike other speaking opportunities I’ve had, this was the first time I was able talk one on one with youth who were exactly where I was two years ago. I was asked a question I had asked myself countless nights. “Do you ever think it‘s not worth it?” As I looked back at her I saw the disappointment that came after the dream act failed in the senate, I saw years of hard work, fear and uncertainty. I saw hope. I saw my friends, my brother, I saw myself.
Eighteen years ago my parents immigrated to this country. They left their family and the lives they had built in Mexico. They took a leap of faith in hopes of raising their children in a land of opportunity.
Last year I was one of 20 undocumented students who staged a civil disobedience that resulted with arrest and a risk of deportation. The night before I had a conversation with my parents and brother and I struggled to convince my mom not to worry. But I knew there was a chance I would not be coming home. I knew there was a chance I might not be there to hug and kiss my little brother after he graduated from high school. I knew that this risk I was taking might determine the next 10 years of my life in an unfamiliar country.
I am standing here today because 1 year ago when my friends came out of the shadows on this stage I was still waiting. I was still afraid, afraid that graduating from college would be an impossible task, afraid that coming out and risking our future in this country would not be enough, afraid that the lives my parents had left behind would be in vain.
I am standing here today because I want to tell that scared girl who did not know what would come next after high school that she is worth it. That the sacrifice she and her parents made are worth it. That the fact that she is now standing on this stage is a sign that a future without fear is possible. I am standing here right now because I want to tell those four girls that they can be up here too, that they are the reasons why I am up here.
My name is Lulu, I’m undocumented, unafraid and unapologetic.