Dear Donald Trump Supporter, By Undocumented Students

Dear Donald Trump Supporter, By Undocumented Students

"The greatest mistake of the movement has been trying to organize a sleeping people around specific goals. You have to wake the people up first, then you'll get the action" -Malcolm X
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Recently I had the privilege of attending a creative writing workshop at PEN World Voices where I met truly amazing fellow undocumented CUNY students. This week, I asked my peers to join me in writing a collaborative open letter to a Donald Trump supporter.

Dear Donald Trump Supporter,

Thanks a lot, and thanks again for making the USA great again. People have now opened their eyes and can see that America has never been great due to its never-ending racism; which is what makes America great for the privileged but never for the repressed which are again thanks to you, awakening to stand up for what's right and will never again accept oppression.

I understand your fear of somebody coming into the country and robbing it of its culture and land. However, since we give hardly any reparations to the Native Americans, let us follow the purpose of the Constitution, and let us add more items into the melting pot that America is supposed to be. Lady Liberty does not stand for decoration. She is a beacon for the weary immigrants fleeing countries that won't allow them to reach their full potential. Voting for a misogynistic, immoral, racist who sexualized his own daughter will not make America seem "great," unless your idea of great is hypocrisy.

Some people may back him up by saying he isn’t racist. Sure, he isn’t racist by definition but he is spreading unfair racial stereotypes and by doing so he is extremely immature and a man without compassion. America is already great. However, it's people like you and Donald Trump who are shaming its true and evolved greatness.

The campaign slogans you hang so proudly say you want to make America great again yet you are only making American hate again. The first thing Trump said was that when Mexico “sends” its people it doesn't send its best. Even though he said Mexico, we know people like you use this term to refer to all Latinos. His statement not only insulted Mexicans but also all the hard working Latinos and immigrants that have come here wanting to better themselves. He calls us rapists, criminals, and killers. However when two men assault a Latino homeless man in his name, he calls them passionate. He claims that "the Blacks" and "the Hispanics" must be the one raping women and committing all the crimes but he does not pay attention to what's really going on. He turns his head away from the disproportionate and mass incarceration of Black and Latino men due to unfair law enforcement practices. Yet he still blames Mexico for sending the "unwanted."

You see, when Mexico “sends” its people it sends people who are willing to take on jobs that you can't or aren't willing to do. It sends people who help businesses grow and in some cases, come to own their own businesses. It sends people who pay taxes and contribute to the community. It sends people like us who are going above and beyond working, going to college, and actually trying to make America great again. We are people who are not afraid to get up every day at five in the morning only to spend our days at unsafe construction sites, on our knees scrubbing the floors of the privileged, or at degrading low wage jobs just to keep on living.

The other day, I was introduced to a new word. It was "xenophobia" or the fear of foreigners. Is it fear or hatred that you feel towards immigrants? Or both? Did you forget that many of us are daughters, sons, fathers, and mothers just like you? It somehow feels like history is repeating itself again. I thought we wanted a progressive democracy, but it seems that you forget about the "other" which are the immigrants working in restaurants, schools, houses, laundromats etc. We have made our presence visible at the national level. Just because you refuse to acknowledge us doesn't bring us down. It only motivates us to break down the stereotypes that you believe in. We will only be stronger after this. The hate you feed us only serves as a daily reminder of our purpose here: to live our lives and to make a difference.

As I recognize that you might not even acknowledge these arguments as your hate overclouds your judgment, let me ask you, how plausible are Trump's proposals? He wants to build a wall, but how much will this cost? Experts say it will cost more than $10 billion and may take up to 4 years to complete if it is even possible. There are geographical factors that would make the wall very difficult to even build. Your candidate wants to deport people. This will not only separate families but also leave jobs that many people cannot and will not fill. A similar situation happened in Alabama where they managed to move a big portion of the undocumented community out of the state. This had a negative effect on the state and imagine how it will affect the entire country. Trump's proposals will only deteriorate the economy as more than $10 billion is needed for his wall. Additionally, approximately more than $11 billion will be lost from the taxes that the undocumented community pays. There will be jobs that many people cannot fill and the cost for administering a mass deportation is enormous.

Trump's proposals are unethical and will only cause an economic disaster. Are you really going to let your hate and fear cause this much destruction? Are you willing to watch this country burn by a man who claims to have all the right answers even though they are all the wrong ones?

For all it's worth, we are all human beings. We share an innate human connection that neither you nor anyone can take away from us. We are immigrants, we are women, men, children and we are fighters. We will rise above racism, unfair stereotypes, prejudice, and misogyny. And we will not stop until those who demean us are listening. We won't stop until our rights are upheld. We are dreamers who have more than just a dream. In fact, as of now we are more than dreamers. We are doers and we are fighters. Our dreams from now on will only find their way to reality.

Sincerely,

Undocumented Students

Jessica Acero

Erika Apupalo

Mariana Arias Patiño

Miguel De Los Santos

Stevieanna Elva

Apolinar Islas

Nancy López Ramírez

Gabriela Martínez

Dale St. Marthe

P.S. Not even your wall can stop us.

Cover Image Credit: http://www.alternet.org/story/156022/how_student_dreamers_won_a_step_in_immigration_reform

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.

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Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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Pride? Pride.

Who are we? Why are we proud?

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This past week, I was called a faggot by someone close to me and by note, of all ways. The shock rolled through my body like thunder across barren plains and I was stuck paralyzed in place, frozen, unlike the melting ice caps. My chest suddenly felt tight, my hearing became dim, and my mind went blank except for one all-encompassing and constant word. Finally, after having thawed, my rage bubbled forward like divine retribution and I stood poised and ready to curse the name of the offending person. My tongue lashed the air into a frenzy, and I was angry until I let myself break and weep twice. Later, I began to question not sexualities or words used to express (or disparage) them, but my own embodiment of them.

For members of the queer community, there are several unspoken and vital rules that come into play in many situations, mainly for you to not be assaulted or worse (and it's all too often worse). Make sure your movements are measured and fit within the realm of possible heterosexuality. Keep your music low and let no one hear who you listen to. Avoid every shred of anything stereotypically gay or feminine like the plague. Tell the truth without details when you can and tell half-truths with real details if you must. And above all, learn how to clear your search history. At twenty, I remember my days of teaching my puberty-stricken body the lessons I thought no one else was learning. Over time I learned the more subtle and more important lessons of what exactly gay culture is. Now a man with a head and social media accounts full of gay indicators, I find myself wondering both what it all means and more importantly, does it even matter?

To the question of whether it matters, the answer is naturally yes and no (and no, that's not my answer because I'm a Gemini). The month of June has the pleasure of being the time of year when the LGBT+ community embraces the hateful rhetoric and indulges in one of the deadly sins. Pride. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, the figures at the head of the gay liberation movement, fought for something larger than themselves and as with the rest of the LGBT+ community, Pride is more than a parade of muscular white men dancing in their underwear. It's a time of reflection, of mourning, of celebration, of course, and most importantly, of hope. Pride is a time to look back at how far we've come and realize that there is still a far way to go.

This year marks fifty years since the Stonewall Riots and the gay liberation movement launched onto the world stage, thus making the learning and embracing of gay culture that much more important. The waves of queer people that come after the AIDS crisis has been given the task of rebuilding and redefining. The AIDS crisis was more than just that. It was Death itself stalking through the community with the help of Regan doing nothing. It was going out with friends and your circle shrinking faster than you can try or even care to replenish. Where do you go after the apocalypse? The LGBT+ community was a world shut off from access by a touch of death and now on the other side, we must weave in as much life as we can.

But we can't freeze and dwell of this forever. It matters because that's where we came from, but it doesn't matter because that's not where we are anymore. We're in a time of rebirth and spring. The LGBT+ community can forge a new identity where the AIDS crisis is not the defining feature, rather a defining feature to be immortalized, mourned, and moved on from.

And to the question of what does it all mean? Well, it means that I'm gay and that I've learned the central lesson that all queer people should learn in middle school. It's called Pride for a reason. We have to shoulder the weight of it all and still hold our head high and we should. Pride is the LGBT+ community turning lemons into lemon squares and limoncello. The lemon squares are funeral cakes meant to mourn and be a familiar reminder of what passed, but the limoncello is the extravagant and intoxicating celebration of what is to come. This year I choose to combine the two and get drunk off funeral cakes. Something tells me that those who came before would've wanted me to celebrate.

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