The New Cesar Chavez: The DREAM’ers

Not since Cesar Chavez has there been a symbol like him rising from the ground up that has become the national face of Latino empowerment in the United States.  The magnitude of what Mr. Chavez achieved in terms of influencing public opinion has now met its heir apparent in the young activists known as “the DREAM’ers” that for all intents and purposes, are as American as anyone else minus the paper that bureaucratically recognizes them as such.  These young people grew up here, their “undocumented” parents pay taxes that sustain Social Security and keep it from crumbling, and without them our economy would experience an unsustainable negative population growth that would result and an ever-shrinking young working sector supporting an ever-growing aging retired one.  The DREAM’ers are asking not for special treatment, but are rather asking to be granted what is owed to them: to be treated not as second-class citizens but to be given the chance to succeed in the American spirit of giving its people the right to be unfettered in their “pursuit of happiness.” 

Typical of organizations making pronouncements based not on being plugged in to the grassroots but rather putting forth narratives that are based on so-called scientific polls and relying on old notions of what a leader ought to look like, the Pew Hispanic had it wrong when it concluded that Latinos are leaderless.  When Brave New Foundation’s CUENTAME asked its 50k FaceBook and Twitter followers to nominate and vote for the “Latino Voice of 2010,” the DREAM’ers won hands down.  DREAM’ers moved the entire Latino community and have pulled Latinos, Asians, and others closer together than ever before against the forces of bigotry and hatred that want to send us to the proverbial back of the bus.  Not since the 60’s has there been a student movement in our colleges and high schools that has been as cohesive as the DREAM’ers and that has such a wide appeal across ethnic and racial groups.  The DREAM’ers are here to stay and will not be ignored and if for a second either progressives or conservatives, Democrats or Republicans doubt their power and take it for granted, just take a look at how voting against the DREAM Act derailed the Tea Party movement’s efforts to radicalize the Senate. 

Happy New Year!