I am defined as first-generation American and like me, there are many young people throughout this nation who are in this category. My parents and my brother are from Guatemala, a country in Central America that many tend to clump as being part of Mexico. This is ignorance at its finest. However, my parents were firm about educating me on speaking proper Spanish and to always be proud of my culture.
The thing is, I have two cultures that coexist within me. I was born here in the U.S which meant that I had to grow up balancing two worlds. If anything, I learned to juxtapose these two opposite worlds and learned to accept that this my truth. Still, stereotypically, I have been accused of being an illegal, a board hopper, and Mexican. This is all incorrect though I admit at times it’s hurtful. I doubt it will get easier with the new President-elect Donald Trump.
That is why it is surreal: Eight years ago, when I was in middle school, I was so excited knowing the United States had a Black president for the first time. It offered the hope, the possibility that perhaps one day someone like me would stand in the same place as President Barack Obama. Now fast-forward to Tuesday, November 8, 2016, I am now a 21 year old Latina out on reporting duty with a fellow correspondent. Note: It is my first time having to vote for a President. I admit I was nervous because in the last two years seeing Trump gain popularity for his racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic views was a nightmare. A nightmare which became a reality on election day 2016.
Even now I can close my eyes , I can hear the people around me talking and laughing. I am at Sole Space in downtown Oakland. I am covering Measure JJ, but my stomach hurts and the results for the measures are coming in and the vote count for the President-elect are in favor of Trump. I finish interviewing and I’m navigating to the food table where I immediately spy chocolate brownies. I stuff my face with them having no shame that I am anxious, that I am beginning to dread how Wednesday will look for my friends and family who unlike me are not citizens of the U.S. My head reels with questions and fear; this is happening. The year is 2016 and there are people who hate me even though they don’t know me.
In fact, the other day I read something along the lines that I was Donald Trump’s worst fear. I am first going to college for (SURPRISE) English or rather Creative Writing, second I am a woman, and third I am a Latina. As I write this, I feel the sudden urge to weep because it wasn’t that we didn’t know this existed or could happen. It’s that many people let this happen because it’s easier to find scapegoats than to look inside for any actual fault.
That is why it is disappointing to see this “safety pin movement” on social media when if non-POC (non- People of Color) had rallied together against Trump, we wouldn’t need to create safe spaces. We would already have them, there would be no reason to have to send “hidden messages” to the minorities affected by this election.
I will be honest and say that I am grieving for my country; I keep reminding myself that this will be a long process. All I ask is that we please keep each other safe and show a little kindness as the holiday season approaches, as this new year comes in. I think we all need to recognize that this a new world today than it was last Tuesday. This is the moment where we show what we are made of and that we are much stronger than any hateful thought or word sent our way.