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CAD Walk 2012: From the Desert of Nevada, Demanding Justice for Trayvon

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Today, we’re launching the first in what will be a regular series of posts from the DREAMers of the Campaign for an American DREAM.  Last month, they set off from San Francisco to begin a 3,000-mile, 8-month+ walk to Washington, DC to call attention to the DREAM Act and the need for immigration reform.

This first post is from Alex Aldana, a queer undocumented immigrant rights activist who works as a community organizer/health advocate for Latino LGBTQ youth, HIV/AIDS prevention, education, and treatment with social justice, advocacy and empowerment to immigrant communities impacted by health disparities in Southern California.

Learn more about the Campaign for an American DREAM here, and follow them on Twitter at @CADWalk2012.

As the week extends over the cold desert native lands of Nevada, we continue walking east through sacred land. We are on our 29th day of this journey, leaving California behind and its progressiveness. Now we enter the realms of Native American reservations and natural beauty, conservative legislators and different perspectives and struggles that immigrant communities suffer day by day.

Today I’m wearing tight black jeans and a tight shirt. Just like any other day: my shoes are pointy; my hair has suffered drastically with the sand storm, but still managed to have a Mohawk on this snowy day.  If you were to look at me right now, you would agree with me to say:  “this guy’s a faggot.”

You’re quite correct, but there’s more.  My clothes however, do not define my identities. Perhaps my skin color might give you a clue about my native heritage: Latino. If I were to come to up to you and start talking, you not only realize I have an accent, but my voice is slightly feminine. These descriptions do not necessarily define my nationality, sexual orientation, or even less, my legal status in this country.  Other communities however, use these aspects to criminalize our communities, our culture.

Today I’m wearing black, in sorrow for the injustice our communities of color still suffer day by day.  Today I’m walking in solidarity with the “Dream Defenders” [a group that arose out of the Trayvon Martin shooting] with pain in my heart and sand in my shoes, honoring every step I take in the name of Trayvon Martin: a dreamer of this country.

Sharing my identities openly to the community here in Nevada sparked a whole different conversation of racism happening to immigrant communities and native Americans alike: communities of color.

Claudia Castaneda, a community organizer and social worker in Reno shared with us that, “Some of the rural towns heading east to the town of Fernley (a Reno Sparks Indian man was beaten by skinheads, then  jailed by police in Fernley, Nevada) have actually been reporting more hate crimes to Indians and Latinos alike.”

Why is it that our people have to be living in fear?

That fear, that many of us have to simply exercise the normal things, such as walking around the neighborhood and not being targeted by some Neo-Nazi white neighbor protecting their security, as they call it, because of the way we dress or the color of our skin?

If I were to be a victim of a hate crime today, like many other times, conservative communities would say that “this faggot” was provoking the attack for being too feminine, or too gay in our community.

This has been a reality for us in queer communities, just like many immigrant battered women are not calling the police to report domestic violence abuse, just like many cops mistreat our transgender Mujeres at detention centers by denying their medication , dehumanizing their identities, criminalizing their human rights to live.  The abuse of power is disgusting.

It’s time to rise up and work together. We are one family, one struggle. And this racism is a direct attack to all communities of color.

Young Trayvon Martin was a dreamer, just like me, with dreams to become something good in life. It was very unfortunate to have met him on February 26th with the painful news on the media.

His death was brought about by a criminal, and there’s no doubt about it.   Zimmerman, a racist neighbor that had the audacity to violate the life of an innocent kid, and judge his appearance by wearing a hoodie, still runs free on the streets.

We need to bring justice, and educate our communities. When we hear comments just as commander Jeff Schoep, from the National Socialist Movement excusing their actions by saying “We are not advocating any type of violence or attacks on anybody, but we are prepared for it. We are not the type of white people who are going to be walked all over.”  Protecting “white citizens only”, and killing everyone else that looks different. Our communities of color are not criminals, and we will no longer tolerate this racist system that incarcerates the innocent, and awards the priviledged.

As an undocumented DREAMer, today I walk in solidarity with the DREAM DEFENDERS, a courageous group that will march in Trayvon’s honor to demand justice for his murder.

Our communities stand in solidarity, infuriated.

Today I speak truth to those that enforce the law and have the power on the streets: our police departments, our department of justice. We will take it to the streets to demand social justice for our brothers and sisters, for the wounds left behind to Martin’s family, to many of my immigrant people of color, that have suffered from injustice under your hands.  We the immigrant people have every right in our souls to demand justice for those you say you protect.

Today I remember Trayvon Martin, as a victim of the power of this country.

Today I wear my hoodie, walking to the nearest meat market.

Today I walk in grief, with the greatest respect to those who defend the dream of liberty and justice for all.

Today I take a step in unity to bring justice for you, my friend Trayvon.  Although we never met, you live in my heart whether immigrant, queer, Muslim or black, our oppressed communities beat as one.

And we are the power.

Alex Aldana
Campaign for an American DREAM