It was a typical Walmart visit. I had just come from a meeting, it was dark, I was tired and in need of coffee for a long night full of papers and readings awaited me. As I walked in, a group of American, teenage girls were gossiping in the entrance. I felt their glance on me but gave little thought to it. Later it happened again, but with a different set of girls. I thought, do I look that tired? I brushed it off, again. Later while getting in line to pay, it happened again but this time words were spoken. “She must be from the other side,” he said. I looked at him, and answered “yes, I am,” in fluent English, and carried on.
I was born in Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico. I had the blessing of being brought to the U.S as a one-year old. My dad fought hard to naturalize my mom, brothers and me; and behold, here I am in the states. That typical day at Walmart turned out to be a reflection. For the first time in 20 years, I felt intimidation, racism and hatred toward me for being Hispanic in the country I call home. Being Hispanic in the U.S, during the Trump era has been difficult. We are being stereotyped, ridiculed, and judged all because we were born on “the other side” ― Mexico.
So, to the male who belittled me and ruined my Walmart visit, I understand. I can understand that you are filled with anger because the Hispanics have come to “take over your country,” but let me ease your worry by telling you, no. We are not here to steal your freedom, money or food, we are here to work. We are here for the American dream. It may be hard for you to understand, you have most likely not been in the position where your father doesn’t see you grow up because he is working to allow his children to come to the land of the free and the brave; you may not understand the difficulties of learning a second language, being bullied for speaking English “weird,” and seeing people die of hunger right in front of you. You were born with the American dream ― with the privileges my father had to fight for to give me. And because of that I will tell you, I did not come from “the other side” to steal your freedom. I was brought here by my dad to become the neurosurgeon my mother always wanted me to marry. I was brought here to have access to all the opportunities ― the same opportunities ― you were born with. So, next time you see a tired, sleepless girl, who looks like she doesn’t know English, don’t judge, don’t stereotype, don’t ridicule. Think, instead. Wonder whether she came to fulfill her dream, because I know I did. And to Trump, I ask that you wonder, too.