The Dream Act Starts with You


The first act

So, I’m an engineer.

If you were to assume that I don’t know the first thing about activism and organization building, well, Sir, you’d be quite correct. Fortunately, I know the education value of reading a book. [By the way, if only somebody invented a 'CTRL + F' mechanism that you could attach to any existing book, that educational value would double. Ahem... spread the word.]

So, I’m an engineer, and I’ve been reading quite a bit lately.

My latest victim is a timeless work by Saul D. Alinsky himself. Rules for Radicals. 1971. Yes. Nick is insane. He is reading a 40 year old book to give him a better perspective on a largely virtual community in this Shirky world of ours. Nick is also talking to himself, but you didn’t hear this from me.

Now, when I say timeless, I’m not kidding. See for yourself.

Our youth are impatient with the preliminaries that are essential to purposeful action. Effective organization is thwarted by the desire for instant and dramatic change, or as I have phrased it elsewhere the demand for revelation rather than revolution. It’s the kind of thing we see in play writing; the first act introduces the characters and the plot, in the second act the plot and characters are developed as the play strives to hold the audience’s attention. In the final act good and evil have their dramatic confrontation and resolution. The present generation wants to go right into the third act, skipping the first two, in which case there is no play, nothing but confrontation for confrontation’s sake–a flare-up and back to darkness. To build a powerful organization takes time. It is tedious, but that’s the way the game is played–if you want to play and not just yell, “Kill the umpire.”

Ah! Ah! You see it?! CALL! CALL! CALL! CALL!Kill that f*cking umpire.”

Wait, wait, wait. I am not saying that the hundreds of calls that members of DAP have placed did not make a difference. In that immediate time-frame, they absolutely did and we are in debt to those who took part in the campaign. However, as organizers without an organization, we’ve skipped the first and second acts.

The good news is that not everyone is as stupid as us, well me, at the very least. There is a large number of organizations who took the time to play out the first and second acts. And so did the opposition. Our team tried to push the bill through and they have failed. Mr. Alinsky… your cue.

Do one of three things. One, go find a wailing wall and feel sorry for yourselves. Two, go psycho … Three, learn a lesson. Go home, organize, build power and at the next convention, you be the delegates.

Harsh. Nonetheless, everyone liked three. And so they are doing.

On the other hand, members of the DAP community have to play out the aforementioned first and second acts. We have to organize. We have to have a plan. We have to be systematic in our approach. And, we have to position our new organization where it will serve a clear and needed purpose. Recently, this has been my main area of interest and work. The intent is to take the initial steps and to facilitate your involvement in this play, unless you can’t sing, then don’t call me.

I’ll see you on stage.

A unique problem, a fundamental element

‘Tis the recipe for activism. 

Build personal relationships. Organize. Do. Grow. Lather, rinse, repeat. 

Many activist before us have prepared this successful dish. Those who follow us will likely do the same. What then, is ruining our meal?

Organizing, doing, and growing take a dedicated team, a vision, a plan, an execution. These elements require a lot of hard work. On part of the students affected by the injustice, the real work has began. The motivation, self-interest, and effective leadership will ensures that the work continues and that the issue be taken to its end. This is in line with social justice movements of the past, along with the fundamental element that is hindering our progress, fear of prosecution.

Hardly unique, one might say. People of color, immigrants, low-wage workers, and countless other groups have been prosecuted as far as written history can take us. However, our fear of prosecution is unique in relation to modern day groups who fight for, say, a greener country, reforms in the electorate system, better health-care, even those on the other side of our ideological fence; those who try to ship us out like cattle, educated, all American cattle. However dysfunctional, the law is on their side. Whether we like to admit it or not, this greatly limits what we can do as a community. The result?

If the best strategy to destroy an activist movement is to segment and divide it, then we are doing our opposition a service by fearing to share the most basic information such as our first names. Don’t even talk about meeting face to face “until DREAM passes”. Our assumption is that we can organize, do, and grow without tying a face to our DAP screen names. Perhaps. However, we can’t build true personal relationship without sharing anything personal at the fear of prosecution.

I find it ironic that most beneficiaries of the DREAM Act, present company included, spend so much energy keeping their true identity and life long struggle concealed, especially, wait for it… from those closest to them, as if we are advocating something immoral or illegal. We are so afraid of prosecution that we fear to utter the words “I am …” This fact is crippling us on a personal and on a social level.

The implication, up to this point, has been that the majority of the people affected by the issue rarely leave the safety of the virtual space and take the issue to the street – to the voting booth – where it really matters. Hence, we must truly cherish those who have, grow their ranks, as well as empower those who can’t, by expanding on the methods to contribute in the virtual space. More importantly, lets undermine fear, that cripling, fundamental element.

My name is Nikolay, and I will work with you to make our lucid DREAM a reality.


Inspired, in part, by Organize for Social Change