Friday was an amazing day in my personal life. A movement of mostly working class people of color forced the most powerful man in the world to listen. I remember when I first got involved and people would dismiss us for not having money or for being undocumented and not eligible to vote. I still remember the first time I confronted Homeland Security in downtown Miami when they tried to deport my friend's family; I told them to deport me instead. Although they never did, her family stayed because they saw that we were determined. Nobody can disempower people after they find their humanity within their hearts.
I woke up today and looked at my feet to see the scars of the Trail of DREAMs and I smiled. It has been a hard journey, full of sorrows and defeats. So many people in our community were ripped apart from us, so many good-byes, so many tears shed. Those were the times I thought of my mother and what she had taught me about fighting. She said, "If you want to make the world a better place you have to work until your hands bleed. When it hurts, acknowledge the pain and go right back to work because there is so much to be done." That is what I have done faithfully every day since I joined the movement.
I still remember organizing Latinos in Phoenix right after SB1070 had passed in 119 degrees. I had almost fainted and my friend Gaby had to carry me to the shade. I remember confronting the KKK in Georgia when they were calling for the end of the "Latino invasion." I remember organizing groups to go to Alabama and then joining them at the forefronts, when it looked like a war zone after HB56 had passed.
We have gone state by state organizing our peace fighters all over the country. This is proof that organizing actually works and this victory came about because of the personal sacrifice of the most affected. That's what we need to do right now for full equality for LGBTQ people and people of color -- put our heads together and work hard until every county in this country knows who we are. We need to become a legitimate threat to those in power so they don't have any other choice but to give us what we want.
My mentor, Maria Rodriguez from the Florida Immigrant Coalition, taught me two precious lessons about movement building:
1) We need stop playing checkers and start playing chess.
2) Organizing is about making the impossible possible and the possible a certainty.
I remember when we were walking on the Trail of DREAMs. The birds were going south as we were going north. "We are going against the currents," I told Juan Rodriguez, my husband. He replied, "That's the only way we will ever win."
Sometimes we need to go against the current in order to be equal, we need to do the opposite of what is comfortable. Full equality for people of color and LGBTQ people might be a dream right now but it will soon become a reality if we rise up to the moment. A movement starts with a few fed up souls and we will take this country by storm.
Follow Felipe Matos on Twitter: www.twitter.com/f_matos007