Dreaming Out Loud! Youth Activists Spoke About Their Fight for Education, Immigrant Rights and Justice Through Media and Art (Part Two)

Dreaming Out Loud! 

by Arely Zimmerman and Sangita Shreshtova

Civic Paths Project

Theme 1: Barriers and Supports

The DREAMing Out Loud! symposium provided the

panelists an opportunity to reflect on how

they have grown their movement through harnessing new media's technological

and communication affordances. Clearly, immigrant, low-income, undocumented

youth face many barriers to both online participation and civic engagement,

none more important than the lack of financial resources.  


Yet, these barriers

do not foreclose their ability to mobilize online communities around their

cause. Studies conducted by William Perez and more recently by USC sociologist Veronica Terriquez show staggering rates of civic engagement

amongst undocumented immigrant youth, challenging dominant presumptions about how

youth become active and which youth are able to tap social networks behind

their causes. Arely Zimmerman's research on Dream Activism similarly finds that

youth - including those who are undocumented and low income -  are active in organizations supporting

the Dream act also acquired high levels of new media skills. Not only were they

active on social media; they also created new media content and shared it

through platforms such as Flickr and YouTube.  Given this context, the Dreaming

Out Loud! panelists spoke openly about how they overcame financial and

other barriers to their political participation.


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Erick, for example,

is working towards his journalism degree but has had to take time off because

of financial hardships.  Since

2007, Erick has been blogging about his experiences as undocumented youth.  Without full-time access to a personal

computer, Erick uses various resources to develop an online presence.  With his mother making ends meet as a

street vendor, and his father picking up odd jobs, Erick used a scholarship to

buy an Iphone.  Although it doesn't

have Internet access, Erick uses his Iphone to take pictures, take notes, write

blog entries. He then uploads the content to Facebook and Twitter via SMS text

messaging.  Erick notes that, "As

technology progresses it's becoming easier and easier and easier to be 'out



Listen to Erick speak about this here:


The lack of access to technology does not keep

these youth from participating online.


Julio Salgado is a co-founder of Dreamers Adrift,

a collective of digital media artists. 

After graduating with a degree in journalism from Cal State Long Beach,

he could not put his degree to use. 

Working odd jobs primarily in the service industry, he was frustrated by

the lack of opportunities.  He

became more active in the Dream movement and used his artistic talents at the

service of the cause. He has developed a personal style that is immediately

recognizable, and his images have been used to represent national conferences,

t-shirts, and other movement iconography. 

He recalls how he has used whatever we could to 'make ends meet', going

to college parties and gatherings and drawing caricatures of friends to raise

money to pay for books and tuition. 

Using his artistic talent, he began posting his drawings of 'dreamers'

on Facebook using a scanner and photo-booth on his Apple laptop. Soon

thereafter, his pictures garnered national attention.  

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Reflecting on the barriers he has faced, Julio

says, "that never stops you, you're so passionate...I need to draw this stuff".  

See Julio's video "Wall of Dreams" here: 

Sangita Shresthova is currently the Research Director of the Media Activism and Participatory Politics  (MAPP)  Project at USC. She is a Czech/Nepali international development specialist, filmmaker, media scholar, and dancer with extensive interdisciplinary qualitative research experience. She holds a Ph.D. from UCLA's Department of World Arts and Cultures, and a MSc. degree from MIT's Comparative Media Studies program where she focused on popular culture, new media and globalization. She also earned a MSc. in Development Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). While at LSE, her work focused on the educational communication components of international development interventions. Her scholarly writing has been published in several journals, and her work on global participatory aspects of Bollywood dance was recently released as a book by SAGE Publications.

Arely Zimmerman, a Melon Post-Doctorate Fellow at the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity,  holds a doctorate in political science from UCLA. Her scholarship engages overlapping research areas of U.S. Latino/a studies, race and ethnicity, social movements, transnational, media, and feminist studies. Before joining PERE, she held a postdoctoral appointment at USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, where she examined how new forms of social and digital media are reshaping modes of civic engagement amongst Latino, immigrant, and undocumented youth. As part of her ongoing concerns with issues of identity and citizenship in transnational contexts, Arely's manuscript in progress, "Contesting Citizenship across Borders: Central Americans in the United States" details Central American migrant communities' struggles for citizenship and inclusion across multiple nation-states through transnational social movement and community activism.