“I have lived in the U.S. for 23 years, and 20 of those years I spent living in fear of being sent ‘home’ as an undocumented immigrant. The day after I received my legal resident status in 2008, I purchased a stack of tank tops and fabric paint and began my ‘Immigrant is not an F-word’ t-shirt campaign.”
“A couple of months later I was at the May Day Worker’s Rights rally in Union Square. I walked shoulder-to-shoulder with young people who believed that being undocumented did not make them less than anyone else. They believed this in a way that I had always wanted to believe. In the following months I struggled with how to be part of a movement that I felt I was no longer a part of because my status had become legal.
I longed to contribute to it, but I didn’t know how to unlearn being silent, being ashamed. During my search to find my piece (peace) to change, I began writing my undergraduate papers on immigration, undocumented youth and identity. My fieldwork brought me to rallies, marches and bus rides where I spoke to people with stories that broke my heart and built my spirit all at once. A year after my legal residency status, I wrote a paper on the self-identification of national identity of undocumented youths. Although I had a great deal of pride in my academic work, it didn’t feel complete.
So in March of 2011, using my paper as inspiration, I wrote a play inspired by my story. It is called “Undocumented” and was produced in August 2011 in an off-off Broadway venue and in October 2011 in an off-Broadway theater. After the first production a friend asked me how I felt. I didn’t have a response initially. But what I’ve come to realize is that this is the most free I have ever felt, not so much because of the greencard in my dresser drawer, but because despite a learned culture of silence and two decades of shame, I am able to tell my story and I am able to tell it my way. And now, I want to help others do the same.”
For more info on Kat: http://www.katchua.com/
For more info on “Undocumented”: http://undocumentedtheplay.com/