This blog post originally appeared in the Huffington Post.
Chances are you've heard "Wake Me Up." It was a hit song worldwide last year by Aloe Blacc and remixed by Avicii. But have you checked out the emotionally powerful acoustic version of the music video? Here it is:
The video puts on display the work ethic, strong family ties, and grit of our newest Americans: undocumented youth known as "DREAMers," who were brought to this country as children. It also shows the love, quiet sacrifices and resolve of their parents, who like any other parent in the United States, simply want to secure a future for their children.
The verse that punched me in the gut accompanied scenes of a little girl in Mexico skyping with her father in California. Years earlier, she and her mother attempted to be united with him but were detained at the border.
I tried carrying the weight of the world
But I only have two hands
I hope I get the chance to travel the world
But I don't have any plans
I wish I could stay forever this young
Not afraid to close my eyes
Life's a game made for everyone
And love is a prize
Most of the actors in the video have actually lived the scenarios that they portray. This isn't fiction for a music video. This is reality.
As a mom, I can't shake it off. I can't stop thinking of the mom who crossed the desert to then be separated from her partner and daughter's father for years. I am still thinking of the dad who continues to stand on a street corner in Los Angeles every day to perform back-breaking labor just so that his daughter can have the semblance of a childhood. I can only imagine what must run through his mind to keep him going: that with enough hard work his daughter will be able to make plans, to continue with her education and to build a life of her own.
All moms and dads, regardless of where we come from, or where we work or how much money we make, have hopes for our children. We make sacrifices so that our kids have what they need to live and to hopefully contribute towards a saner, kinder and gentler world.
Separating families and keeping kids who have grown up here in the shadows is such a waste. If we do indeed want to remain a country of strong family values and economic opportunity, the very least that we can do is to make sure that all children in our country have what they need to succeed. That's why we need to pass an immigration bill that includes a pathway to citizenship for all who seek it. This will ensure that we aren't imposing limits on children in their prime or creating a permanent underclass in our country.
We are, after all, a country of dreamers.
Blacc, who is shown throughout the video as well, ends his song -- and video -- on a hopeful note. That same little girl is dramatically transformed into an organizer, who along with her mother, stands at the U.S.-Mexico border in protest. She stares at a border patrol agent. He stares back at her and then closes his eyes. And the chorus plays:
So wake me up when it's all over!
When I'm wiser and I'm older
All this time I was finding myself
And I didn't know I was lost
If you haven't yet, please watch Aloe Blacc's video. Just make sure you have tissues nearby. Many thanks to the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, which produced this video in partnership with the Healing Power of Music Initiative for sharing it with me!