This chapter in BAMN covers the desire for recognition and acceptance by those known as DREAMers: undocumented immigrants brought to the US by immigrant parents at a young age. In using the power of today’s social media, DREAMers are becoming activists for immigrant rights by sharing these “coming out” videos that serve as means of coming to terms with their situation while garnering real support for their growing cause.
- Much of the stories shared on the web are done so in honor of National Coming Out of the Shadows Week (187). This is an annual social movement that has found its place on media sites like YouTube and Vimeo after an initial rally in Chicago in 2010. We see annual national “holidays” being recognized on social media often-Mother’s Day, National Pet Day, National Drink a Margarita Day-but ones like this are special. There are over 16K posts on Instagram alone hashtagged #undocumentedandunafraid with people sharing their stories of oppression, hope, perseverance, and strength in their stories of being DREAMers. This kind of social media movement allows them to take identity in their struggle and connect with others who share their story. It also raises awareness of their issues and gives a face to the undocumented immigrants our country is trained to be so afraid of.
- With these videos, DREAMers are taking back what it means to be undocumented, despite the increasing risks they face in our country due to harsh legislation. Some states have laws banning them from renting houses, getting jobs, and most notably in this chapter going to college. More states are potentially looking to make university more difficult to attend for undocumented immigrants, which is something many youth activists hope to change. (191)
- Due to the lack of mobility for undocumented immigrants to perform civic engagements as well as the threat of deportation if investigated, many of them are left frustrated and disinterested in participating in politics. This social movement offers a pathway to political involvement for undocumented immigrants who can’t otherwise vote or run for office. Studies also show that excelling academically and taking leadership positions are ways DREAMers are “transforming their legal status into a motivation to succeed” (192).
- Social Movement Spillover: “Coming Out” videos took on a whole new meaning for DREAMers. “The act of coming out is about agency, power, and control over one’s own story.” (196) Ideas spill from one movement to another, mostly due to inclusiveness and broadness of that movement and the fluidity of the meaning of the innovation.
- “Resource poor, network rich” (208) social networks play a large role in the communication of low-income groups that are struggling for survival. Youths affected by lack of documentation can come together in these online communities and form bonds that motivate them to act selflessly on the group’s behalf, leads to activism.
This tweet from @undocuMedia on September 1, 2017 shows a meme about what many DACA recipients feel about Trump’s immigration policies and his claims to take care of them. Their bio reads “Leveraging digital and social media to empower the undocumented community throughout the United States. #HereTo Stay”
This Tumblr is dedicated to the experiences of undocumented immigrants who share and reblog posts that they can relate to. It’s one of the many platforms they’ve taken to to foster a community that they can all be accepted into while spreading messages of inspiration and activism.
Coming Out as an Undocumented Immigrant – Latino Voices | Posted by AJ+ on March 20, 2015 to YouTube
This YouTube video highlights the coming out stories of several undocumented immigrants who found out when they were very young that they had not been born in the United States and that they do not have citizenship. They talk about their struggles of growing up different than their classmates and being unsure of their futures.