These high schoolers at Flushing International in Queens are schooling the rest of the country on the power of words and how to communicate justice and not alienation. This video, produced by Chino Garcia, is a spin-off of the nationwide Drop the I-Word campaign of the Applied Research Center.
Jorge Rivas at Colorlines.com reports on the the collaboration between the FIHS students at Drop the “I” Word:
The Drop the I-Word team recently met with FIHS students in Queens, NY at an event called “We Are Beautiful! Immigrant Rights Do Matter!” which was organized by the FIHS’ Dream Team and Multi Squad.
Mónica Novoa, Drop the I-Word Campaign Coordinator, said she is grateful and inspired by the students at FIHS and their work to reject the i-word for themselves and their community. “The students at FIHS have set a brilliant and brave example in their own community,” Novoa said.
Across the country, undocumented youth face many obstacles in terms of stabilizing their legal status and pursuing a higher education, but they do have a few allies in Flushing, one of the most ethnically diverse communities in the country. The Juvenile Justice Project, run by the legal advocacy group Centro Comunitario, was recently launched to connect undocumented youth to lawyers and help them navigate through the immigration court system. The project is backed by the city’s child welfare administration, which seeks to help undocumented children in the system qualify for special immigration relief. The founder, Mercedes Cano immigrated from Colombia as a teenager and spent years without papers herself, which for a time plunged her into poverty and homelessness. She told NY1 News, “I know the fear of the unknown. I know the fear of not having a status in the United States.”
Here’s the manifesto of the Flushing International DREAM Team, by Tania Romero:
Young Dreamers Say Drop the “I” Word!
On Wednesday April 4th members of the Flushing International High School (FIHS) Dream Team held their first action as part of their current “Drop the ‘I’ Word” Campaign. For the past two months, members of Dream Team have been studying and discussing the negative impact of the use of the word “illegal” to refer to immigrants in the United States. Inspired by the “Drop the ‘I’ Word” Campaign initiated by the online magazine Colorlines, Dream Team members decided to start their own efforts to raise awareness about the use of the “I” word on their own school campus.
As their first action, Dream Team drafted a pledge urging their school community to commit to stop using the “I” word. In their pledge they state the following:
“Illegals” is a damaging word. It is used to discriminate against immigrants and people of color. No human being is “illegal.” The “I” word:
· Is dehumanizing, discriminatory and divisive
· Is not respectful of a person’s human rights and dignity
· Is an inaccurate description of a human being
· Promotes violence and racism
As a community, we believe in:
· The dignity and human rights of all people
· Using accurate language that respects ourselves and the basic values of others
· Promoting racial equality, justice and unity for a better future
On Wednesday Dream Team activists set up a table outside their school cafeteria and spent time talking to teachers and students about the importance of dropping the use of the ‘I” word. In addition, they managed to get over 200 members of their school community to sign the “Drop the ‘I” Word” pledge. Over Spring break they will continue to collect pledges, but this time in their homes and neighborhoods.
The FIHS Dream Team is made up of documented and undocumented immigrant students. Their mission is to create a safe place for undocumented students to have a voice, and to support the Dream Act. They educate and inform their community about issues impacting immigrants, and are committed to stop discrimination and inequality.