Jonathan Jayes-Green speaks at CSU about being Black, undocumented

Jarrae Newell

There has always been trauma with being Black in America, so what does it mean to be at the intersection of Black and undocumented?

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On Feb. 15, Jonathan Jayes-Green, co-founder and network coordinator of Undocublack Network, came to Colorado State University to discuss and inform students about being Black and undocumented. 

Being Black and undocumented himself, Jonathan Jayes-Green created an environment that brought his first-hand experiences, while also creating a more intimate conversation among the small audience.

Before starting his presentation, those in attendance were asked to introduce themselves by sharing their name, if they were a student or faculty member, the purpose of being at the event, as well as their superpower. This was meant to recognize that everyone in the room has a voice, as well as acknowledge that everyone has something that they are special at, which Jayes-Green encouraged the audience to tap into.  

Ahead of sharing his own story and narrative, Jayes-Green showed the audience “Shariece, and Toboree DACA Story” on Youtube, which included stories different than his own but touched on common challenges most undocumented people face, such as being disappointed by the “American Dream.”  

Part of the problem is people don’t see the people at the intersection.” -Jonathan Jayes-Green, co-founder and network coordinator of Undocublack Network .

“Not having access to that dream that they told me about, that they sold and packaged to me,” Jayes-Green said. 

He also recalls feeling inadequate at times as a result of being undocumented.

He wanted the audience to understand that when people are in the position of being undocumented, sometimes they may feel inadequate; however, this is rarely the case. Hence, Jayes-Green said it is crucial to make sure all voices are amplified, along with creating a safe space where everyone can feel comfortable with voicing their thoughts and opinions. Knowing and understanding privilege, as well as parts of identity that may be more oppressed, is crucial, according to Jayes-Green. 

“Part of the problem is people don’t see the people at the intersection,” Jayes-Green said.

Furthermore, Jayes-Green asked: Why aren’t more people getting involved?

“Us Black folks, Latinx folk, and Asian folks, who are U.S. citizens, understand what it’s like to be discriminated against, so it’s only fair that we help fight against that so nobody else has to feel what we feel on a daily basis,” said the Peer Coordinator of the Black African American Cultural Center, Bethany Norwood.

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Jayes-Green suggested that undocumented students use resources to help them.

Being Black and undocumented is complex and may take some time to understand, said Emerald Green, the Assistant Director of the Black and African American Cultural Center and Co-advisor of the National Pan-Hellenic Council.

“I am still processing…naturally, I don’t know what I don’t know, which allows me to be more confident and OK with what I don’t know,” Emerald Green said. 

JONATHAN CURRENTLY SERVES AS THE DIRECTOR OF THE UNDOCUBLACK NETWORK, A NETWORK OF DIRECTLY AFFECTED BLACK UNDOCUMENTED PEOPLE FIGHTING TO TRANSFORM THEIR OWN REALITIES.

Collegian reporter Jarrae Newell  can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com and on Twitter @Jarrae_Newell.  

Correction: In a previous version of this article, Jonathan Jayes-Green’s last name omitted the hyphen. The article has been updated.