I am, quite frankly, appalled at the blatant and craven tactics of the Republican party as it frames the nature of the government shutdown on the unwillingness of Democrats to support efforts to leave our country’s dreamers unprotected.
Our racist President has put them in the cross-hairs of discrimination to satisfy his base. These dreamers were raised as Americans, strive to be responsible members of this nation, and ask for nothing more than to be accepted as a contributing part of America’s future. Ninety percent of our citizens favor keeping them here, but because it is politically convenient to refuse them a place of safety in the only home most of them have ever known, they must remain in limbo, praying that Mr. Trump’s arbitrary ax doesn’t fall.
And so, in solidarity with those who have been placed in harm’s way by the repeal of the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals Act (DACA) repeal, I proclaim:
I am a dreamer, too. I was brought to this country by birth and was taught to believe in its eventual goodness and in its ability to grow into the dreams inspired by the lofty rhetoric of its all-too-flawed founding fathers. I was taught to hope that, despite their human frailties, their grand experiment with equality would become a reality for all of our people.
I am a dreamer, too. I was delivered from my white mother’s womb as my white father sat in the waiting room, and I, a son, though born to poverty but genetically- and chemically- destined to develop as a heterosexual with good health, was never challenged by race or religion until my socially-reinforced assumptions of normality were inevitably challenged by the adult world of my own moral consciousness.
I am a dreamer, too. I long to be part of a nation I can call home — where rational people are the primary anchor of a compassionate society, one in which my sisters and brothers, can, with heartfelt pride, proclaim the joy of their rainbow diversity and be embraced by a gentle, fiercely-loving community made whole in its striving for peace.
I am a dreamer, too. I have chosen to define myself in terms of opposition to those sociopaths among us who were sadly never taught to rise above their gut-level fears. They have remained, to the detriment of themselves and those around them, emotional cripples bent on twisting the world to their political will, by making themselves the centers of personality cults in which they are the celebrated deities du jour. They have made this possible by pitting the marginal-haves against the mostly have-nots, meticulously maintaining a balance between their imposed deprivation for their worshipers as the norm while performing the falsely hyped miracle of feeding those masses with mere crumbs.
I am a dreamer, too. I will not proclaim my innocence or absolve myself for contributing to the rape of our planet, the lack of care for the sick, the starvation and suffering of persons in other places as long as my only action is to repeatedly cry, “Ain’t it awful?” I cannot condemn the racist or bigot or xenophobe if I support them with my vote for the sake of my own potential economic gain. In doing so, it only confirms my own hypocrisy and makes myself, despite any rationale to the contrary, an enabler of those who then will be functioning as my surrogates.
I am a dreamer, too. Unlike so many others who have come to this place, I had to be taught to understand the dream. I profess to my family from other nations this: You have provided the rest of us a renewed vision of hope, a new direction for our aspirations, and a source of inspiration to refresh our complacent souls. The way forward will test our fortitude. It will be fraught with evils both purposeful and (even more difficult) unintentional. But you have allowed us this moment to rise to our better natures and more complete lives. You, the dreamers, have become the surprising guides that we are compelled to follow in this moment. If we truly want to progress into a better reality.
To this end, we must all become dreamers, too.
Tony Marconi of Delaware is a retired teacher and a longtime social justice advocate.