I saw you wake before the crack of dawn every day growing up in our small Texas town. You were tired but determined; exhausted but cheerful.
We were poor, but you were patient. Your patience gave me hope. We couldn’t afford the dance classes, so you put mirrors on the wall and watched me dance in the living room. You saw me at my worst but still expected the best.
At school, I was different, they would tell me. I was Mexican. My eyebrows were too “bushy.” My skin was too brown. My Spanish was too perfect.
But at home, I was different, too. I was American. I was Chicana. I spoke English. I dressed differently. I wasn’t Mexican enough.
Both worlds are what you dreamed for me— a little brown girl with an American dream. You never once doubted that dream, so I confidently followed it. You told me I was enough, and I believed you. I belonged.
You watched me assimilate to the same American culture that says you don’t belong here, but you knew that I did, and that was enough for you. Because their criticism meant very little compared to the American dream.
I am sorry that I never once asked if you missed home. Home, home.
I am sorry that I never once thanked you for leaving behind the country you so deeply love for my dreams, achievements, and privileges.
You were brave. You and dad married, leaving behind everything you knew about life so that everything I would learn could be accompained with opportunity.
You tolerated ridicules of your Spanish accent, because they didn’t know it was beautiful. You forgave them and taught me to do so also.
You forgave candidates who despise you, because you genuinely believed in the good faith of the American people.
I forgive them for being fearful, because you have taught me to do so, but please teach me how to forgive their hate."
You fought for me, so I cast my vote always thinking of you. You fought for my dream, and I will fight for your future.
I am sorry because maybe I should have fought harder, sooner, not just for you but also for the millions of immigrant parents and children like you.
The ones who work long days with little pay and no benefits— not for their wants but for their children’s dreams; the ones who, like yourself, forgive those who cannot see the beauty in diversity.
The ones who have not seen your struggle, pain, and endurance. I forgive them for being fearful, because you have taught me to do so, but please teach me how to forgive their hate.
You worked a low-wage job so that I could graduate from one of the best universities in the nation— so that you could hang that University of Texas diploma by the front door and tell visitors about your daughter, reinforcing the immigrant American dream. An American dream big enough for everybody.
Please know that I see the blame you take for me— that I know you are saddened when accused of taking American jobs. But I want you to know that it’s the children of immigrants who are taking jobs— jobs in technology, education, government, communication— it’s not you. It’s us.
It is the children of immigrants who grew up seeing the great sacrifices made by parents like you to give us a chance at this American dream, and our success is a form of repayment for your hard work. It will never be enough, but your sacrifices are the sole foundation of our ethics and efforts in this journey. You are the inspiring force behind our choices, because your bravery is not taken for granted.
We are grateful.
I am neither from here nor there. Two lives separated by one border. Two futures defined by opportunity or lack thereof. Your past and my future brought together by your choice of strength, resilience, and faith."
Thank you for teaching me about your life, our culture, and the opportunities this country gives us.
Thank you for teaching me to love my countries— porque “no soy de aquí ni soy de allá.” I am neither from here nor there. Two lives separated by one border. Two futures defined by opportunity or lack thereof. Your past and my future brought together by your choice of strength, resilience, and faith.
I love being a Mexican-American. I love this country.
I just wish it loved us, too.