By CAROLINA VALDIVIA
Are you thinking about starting your own blog about being undocumented? Or perhaps you already created a blog and could use some motivation? This week, we are happy to feature Prerna Lal‘s experience on, and advice about, starting an immigration-related blog/website.
Prerna currently serves as a staff attorney and clinical supervisor at a community law clinic at UC Berkeley’s law school, serving clients across the East Bay, California. She is also the immigration attorney for undocumented students, and their family members, at UC Berkeley.
Prerna created her blog in 2006-2007. She has mostly blogged about being queer and undocumented in the U.S., and immigration issues. Sometimes, she also blogs about her travel abroad adventures and movies. Make sure to check out her blog and stay in touch with her via Twitter.
– What motivated you to start your own blog? It combines two of my passions: writing and technology. When I started writing, I was not looking for an audience. I just wanted to build websites, and share what I thought, and how I felt with whoever could access it. I never thought I would have a following or inspire people into doing the same! I was just trying to be my authentic self and live my life on the web as openly and honestly as possible, in a way that I could not in real life at the time. I was also trying to connect with long lost friends, and find some connection to my homeland online.
– How did you develop a following? It was all pretty organic, and unintentional. I actively looked for and engaged undocumented bloggers on different platforms and listserves. Various undocumented students at UCLA, and at the NYSYLC in NY, were a great help, and source of support. I did media interviews about being undocumented. I blogged for major sites such as Change.org and Brave New Films at a time when there were very few visibly undocumented people, let along undocumented bloggers. With the help of many people and the blessing of my parents, I traveled to a lot of different states and taught undocumented youth in those states how to use social media as a tool to share their stories, create action alerts about deportations, and organize in their own communities. The rest, as they say, is history, which is kind of hilarious because I am really shy and introverted, so it is quite a wonder that I seem to have some sort of cult following or relatively famous online persona.
– What is one of the highlights from your blogging experience? I never quite knew what ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ really meant until I realized that my ability to write has the power to change things. A particularly fond highlight is when I helped to save my house from foreclosure by building an entire site targeted at One West Bank. The CEO personally met with some of the people who sent in their stories, and stopped the foreclosure process.
Most of my fondest memories about blogging involve some level of collaboration and sometimes, even solicitation and conspiracy. I will let your imaginations run wild!
– What is one piece of advice you have for fellow undocumented folks starting their own blog? Don’t be intimidated and that they are not alone. For those who like to share their opinions openly, any publicity is actually good publicity, which is something the haters have yet to understand.
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