Thursday, February 18, 2010

To Tell or Not to Tell

As I was scanning the immigration blogs today, I came across this insightful and reflective piece by an immigrant student. He writes on his blog, "I am a shadow," about his experiences living in the United States without legal status. In musing over whether to stay "closeted" about his undocumented status, he wrote this piece:

I tell people about myself and my status. I tell them I am what I am. Why? Why do I do it?

I do it for two primary reasons. First up, the reason is practicality. Being undocumented isn’t an easy thing. I feel bad about this from time to time and it is clearly visible that I am upset. And it is hard for me to lie and lie about it, make up stuff about it. So, I tell my friends the truth about what I am. It just easier for me to be honest about why I feel what I feel.

Second reason, and in a way, more important, is this. When I hear people speak about immigration, there is an air of the entire issue being abstract. You are speaking about “them”. “They” are far away. We are an idea, something that most people in this debate usually don’t know any of us. So, I tell people to shatter this perception. Because you aren’t speaking about some abstract idea, you are speaking about me. And I want to let my friends know, that whenever this topic comes up, it is me that they are talking about. It isn’t something that doesn’t affect, but it is something that affects someone close to you. This is the most important thing for me. I can’t really speak for myself in the way I want, so I like it when someone else can do so.

No one is going to care about you if you don’t tell people. I respect being fearful of telling people, and not telling anyone about your status, but no one is going to care if no one thinks of you when this issue comes up. Don’t be surprised if you don’t tell people about yourself, and then don’t be surprised if anyone insults you without knowing. That’s the way it goes.

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