She’s still by my side

I was 13 when I first started working in my hometown though only me and her remember when and where. I remember I came back home with a bag of veggies and tortillas for lunch and felt amazing to contribute to the table.My reward was a simple hug of understanding I will never forget.

When I came into this country, I was 16. Working full-time at a Japanese restaurant, part-time advocate,hustling my mother’s divorce and trying to finish high school with a bang. All of that meant being a grown-up,study late at night, which unfolded on the 3.7 GPA I finally brought back home with a diploma on my graduation, along with our month’s rent and food covered for the week.

At 18,the blazing sun of the desert burned my face as I worked in construction, putting in question the reasons why I didn’t make it to College. I remember walking my sister to the bus with tears in my eyes, praying that one day she will never have to suffer for either work,food, or education.

Sometimes, I will hear my inner voice while reading a book , trying not to forget the knowledge I once craved tell her in anger “Why do I have to work? Why isn’t he paying for my food?

My mother, will read my mind, perhaps ashamed or guilty, hugging me in tears & telling me “todo esto es pasajero”, “you will get your reward”. I will go to my closet-sized room, Hoping her magic will transform into a full-ride scholarship next moring.

The years left her hands and I took flight to the city of Angels for more work.I hid my diploma and las ganas de atender la universidad. Work became my study group, my class room, my life-lessons. my friends.
I became an expert on survival. With my Associate’s Degree on “resistance of this system” with an emphasis on Joteria.
I never stopped sending them dollars.

14 years later, I’m still here. Standing with dignity as a worker. Insisting, with no papers to legally work or diploma to validate my experience and existence. Just like today, cashing my first check and Sending my first coins to mi Jefita, just like the first time at the Carniceria.

The sun is growing brighter to this beautiful realization. This is the blessing that continues to bring joy to my face in times of war and genocide. She’s still by my side. So when i get my next job, I will always think of her, as my abundance.That mentor that (I have always known) visits my dreams, telling me to wake up and fight back.

‪#‎survivors‬ ‪#‎doingthemost‬

Alejandro

Alex Aldana is queer undocumented immigrant rights activist that works as a national/community organizer with a vibrant and very raw/uncensored opinion in the myriad of intersectionalities that impact the Immigrant Youth Movement (DREAMers) and brings strategy and direct action to create a new dialogue & truly bring social justice and equality within the LGBTQ/Immigrant movement. Alex migrated from Guadalajara,Mexico to the United States when he was 16 in 2003 to the beautiful dunes of the Coachella Valley. Greaduated from La Quinta high School in 2005 and not having the stability most middle families have, and experiencing dometic violence in the household,he went on with life and decided to support his mother and sister to work in the farm fields picking grapes and embracing the soil and the culture of the farm worker, construction work, and other opportunities that would help them survive. Alex’s only higher education has been deep-rooted by and for the community: Impacted by the scarce resources in the Coachella valley, he decided to get involved as health advocate for Latino LGBTQ youth, doing HIV/AIDS prevention, education and treatment through social justice, advocacy and empowerment to immigrant communities impacted and oppressed in Southern California. Alex worked as an HIV Counselor, Case Manager and Queer mentor with Bienestar Human Services providing services to Latino LGBTQ youth in Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino County since 2007. At a local, state and national level , he has contributed with conferences and rallies addressing LGBTQ issues in school districts (Queer Youth Advocacy Day 2008) , marriage equality (Prop 8 campaign), Immigrant rights (May Day March 2010 Queer youth contingent) and representing HIV services for undocumented immigrants at The United States Conference on AIDS in 2011.His devoted contribution at a local level in his community was to create the first lgbtq latino group in the Coachella Valley in 2011. Aldana’s liberation by “Coming out of the shadows” was followed by an action in San Bernardino, CA in 2012 along with the Immigrant Youth Coalition, Where he was arrested protesting against “secure communities/287g” outside of city hall to empower immigrant communities that live in fear because such laws. After coming out publicly with his immigration status he joined the Campaign for an American DREAM, a walking across the country from San Francisco to DC where 5 undocumented students empowered communitites & pushed to stop the massive deportations of DREAM act elegible youth and families President Obama executed and separated in his term. He also organized the hunger strike and occupation at the Obama for America office in Denver,CO on June of the same year, asking for an executive order which replicated across the country and put pressure to issue the Deffered Action for Childhood arrivals a week after the mobilization. Recent work in Albuquerque, NM included organizing the first national encuentro for The Association of Joteria,Arts,Activism and Scholarship (AJAAS) mobilizing undocumented queer youth from the border states of California, Arizona, and Texas. He will continue to address human rights violations and justice with the intersections of his work on HIV prevention, LGBTQ issues, Education, and Immigration along with radical activist groups that cannot and will no longer remain dormant in the shadows.

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