If you are breathing, chances are you have had one or two challenges in your life. Our stories are all powerful.
However, for millions of people in the United States, some stories are harder to share in public. To be specific, millions of undocumented individuals have been told never to expose their status to anyone for fear of repression, detention or deportation.
Despite this, thousands continue to organize “Coming Out” events and choosing to speak. They do not seek pity, because sympathy will not fuel their determination to achieve greatness. Rather, thousands of undocumented individuals, especially youth, have spoken out publicly about the challenges, barriers and fears associated with being undocumented.
Through sharing their stories, many have transformed their vulnerability into empowerment and many take an active role in working toward sensible immigration policies.
From the national scale to NIU’s backyard, members of DREAM Action NIU, MEChA, De Mujer a Mujer, Saudi Students Association and the Women’s Studies and LGBT Studies programs will host NIU’s first Coming Out of the Shadows (COS). The event, which is free and open to the public, begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 8, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Commons.
The COS at NIU is inspired by the annual Coming Out of the Shadows event, coordinated by the Immigrant Youth Justice League (IYJL), which organized its first COS in March 2010. IYJL’s COS proved to be the first of its kind for undocumented individuals in the Midwest. However, the roots of COS are attributed to the National Coming Out Day, organized by members of the LGBTQ+ community.
“Undocumented, Unafraid, and Unapologetic” is a slogan used by IYJL to denote that a staus of “undocumented” does not dictate or define existence nor imprisonment by fear. “Unapologetic” was later added to express that although an undocumented individual’s presence in the U.S. is contested, he or she does not apologize and/or despise his or her parents’ decision to immigrate to this country.
Participants in NIU’s April 8 event will experience first-hand accounts from their fellow NIU Huskies and community members who are undocumented. Attendees can expect to gain a new found awareness of the human perspective of immigration and acculturation. Most importantly, COS will provide a space for individual empowerment and dignity.
- 6 p.m. Welcome (MLK Commons)
- 6:10 p.m. Musical performance
- 6:20 p.m. Speakers and testimonies
- 6:50 p.m. Closing remarks and Unity Walk to Anderson Hall
- 7:15 p.m. Concert featuring Cosmic Raza and Olmeca (Anderson Hall 135)
- 9 p.m. Closing remarks
For more information, call (815) 753-8645 or email [email protected].
by Nikantlaka Tiahui