I was born to parents born in El Paso, Texas. Their parents were legal migrants from Mexico. As children, Ricardo and Juana, would travel, with their families, from El Paso, Texas to Gilroy, CA for the farming season. Not meeting each other until later on in their lives when both families decided to move to and settle in San Fernando and Pacoima, CA.
For not being born into privilege, they did well. Richard, as he was known, retired from the Army life early and became a union brother at General Motors, along with some of his brothers. Jenny, as she was known, decided to be a stay at home wife, taking care of her 2 children, Deborah, 8, and RJ, 7, when I decided to pop into the picture.
Boom! I was born right into the middle class. All 3 of us attended private school and English was our 1st and only language. When I showed interested in learning Spanish, my mother always discouraged me because we were in America and we are Americans. I always wondered what made her think this way. I never really fit in with the Latino crowd because, well simply, I didn’t speak Spanish and I was considered Pocha. I thought that maybe I fit in with the neighborhood kids because we are all mixed. Danny and Sandy were Korean American, Tammy’s family was white, Belinda’s family was interracial with both black and white, Cedros’ family were American Indians, Adolf and his family were Jewish, our next door neighbors were white and then there was my family, Mexican American. (As a side note, we had a lesbian couple on our block along with a gay man, which should have been shocking in the 80s but it was normal for us) I’ve been lucky. I lived in a diverse neighborhood that taught us all tolerance and understanding of our fellow Americans.
My mother had trees. Boy, did she have trees and a flair for making spicy chili (salsa), spicy anything for that matter, to share. She would make food for the neighbors and they would return the favor in kind. When we picked fruit from the trees, all the neighbors were invited over to come pick their share of fruits or we would prepare bags of fruits for them and deliver it to their door. There are a lot of things my mom taught me. A lot, completely wrong and crazy but the best thing she ever taught me was to love your neighbors and look out for one another, never once pointing out any differences.
My father, on the other hand, well he taught me to laugh at everything and not to take everything so seriously. Both are gone now. As an advocate against child abuse and corruption with the government, but even more than that, I’m a burner, a hard worker, an artist, a mother and a human, my biggest fear is that I will not be able to accomplish my goals because, well, at the end of the day, I’m Mexican.
I’ve been living a lie. For as long as I can remember, I lived with the idea that all of my neighbors accepted me, for me. That they loved me because I’m a good person inside and that they didn’t look at me as one race or another, but as a person. The idea that they watched me grow up from a bratty little tyke into the woman that I was yesterday and whoever I will be tomorrow, that they love me, as I love them. However, I now know how wrong I am.
On June 5th, my world changed and on June 6th, I hadn’t stopped crying. First off, as an adult, I remained friends with some of my neighbors through Facebook. One in particular, Drew, I refer to as my brother and his cousin as my cousin. Well, what started off as another jab at Hillary Clinton from a Donald Trump supporter, my cousin, turned into pain and anger. After a man made a comment about Trump being God chosen, I simply said, God and politics have nothing to do with each other and if it did, God isn’t hateful and mean-spirited. My so-called brother jumped in to explain that I don’t know anything about politics because although my dad was a sweet man, he was more than likely illegal and this somehow made me ignorant. This was somehow, his twisted ideological way of defending me.
Several posts trying to defend himself as right, brought me to this realization. I was allowed to be a friend to white people because I somehow passed a test when I was born into my family. My parents, somehow passed a test when they moved in. Somehow, I was deemed, ACCEPTED, by my white neighbors. We are not criminals, like other Mexicans. We aren’t thieves, like other Mexicans. We are somehow the exception. I was somehow an exception. So, as long as Trump keeps out people who aren’t accepted yet, we are good.
Mr. Trump, your hate speech is no longer wanted or appreciated. You have reignited a whole new generation of racism and sexism that we, as a country, have worked so hard to eliminate and move away from. It’s a shame. It’s complete shame that you are allowed to use your celebrity to lie and deceive people on such a grand level that you are turning Americans against Americans. The people in this beautiful country are not without fault, but you sir, need to get off the mic. I will be glad when this election is over and are put back into the hole from which you have come out of.