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No Ban, No Wall Rally at the Texas Capital

This is Who We Are

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This past Saturday, I was very honored to speak at the #NoBanNoWall rally on behalf of those that feel as they have no voice and for those that are currently in fear of the policies enacted by the current administration.

Thousands gathered at the front steps of the Texas capital to protest the current ICE Raids, Trump’s border wall and the refugee ban. U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) and Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) headlined the rally organized by Muslim and immigrant rights groups. Some of the speakers included immigration attorneys and activists, DREAMERS, and refugees from Muslim communities.

To honor my family and to those that have suffered and continue to suffer under the policies of the current administration, I hope that my words spoken at the rally made a difference (if even a small one).

“This Is Who We Are”

“Many if not all of us here today have recited the pledge of allegiance, giving our thanks to a piece of fabric stitched in identity that speaks to many of the slogans that have echoed throughout time: Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness. As a Latina, I have witnessed how those words have turned into something so out of reach for us. But still, we hope and we strive, not only for ourselves but for our families as well. BECAUSE THIS IS WHO WE ARE!

Every success we have achieved and every contribution we’ve made in this America, OUR America, is being overshadowed being by the current policies in place that have made us out to be the enemy.

We are the enemy when we’re condemned to the belief of being rapists and murders. We are the enemy because much like any minority, the actions of a few become representative of a whole. We have become the target of ICE raids because it has been determined that because we are brown, we are committing a crime just by being here. Because we are brown, we are to be feared. But indeed, they should be scared, because we are tired – tired of being ignored, tired of being stereotyped, tired of being marginalized and tired of being treated like second-class citizens. And today, you WILL hear us!

We are not illegal. The Declaration of Independence, the very document that is the foundation for this country determined that all men are created equal. And that includes us Latinos. We’re the fighters, we’re the persecuted, and we’re the survivors who have only wanted one thing – the opportunity for a better quality of life. THIS IS WHO WE ARE!

I am the child of a migrant farm worker. My mother spent the majority of her childhood working the fields from sun up to sun down. Although she did not graduate high school, my mother elevated herself from working for minimum wage cleaning offices at night to the successful career woman she is today – a self-taught, resilient woman.

As a child, my father worked the cotton fields. And throughout his entire adult life, has worked outdoor construction, laying the foundation for the highways and roads we use day in and day out. At the age of 62 he was diagnosed with cancer. At 63, he beat cancer. And at 64, he once again put on those work boots and headed back to work, waking up at 4am to go to a job that no one else wants to work. Why? Because all he wants to do is earn his living, respectfully, and in peace. Because THIS IS WHO WE ARE

I am the mother of two beautiful biracial young men – one of them is gay. And although many out there spew their hate against their race, their nationality, their sexual orientation – they stand strong and I stand with them because THIS IS WHO WE ARE

I have watched as Aleni, a young woman I met 8 years ago while she was in high school endure the struggle of wanting a higher education, wanting to become successful, all while fearing her undocumented status. A high academic achiever, decorated high school soccer player, homecoming queen – all that and she couldn’t qualify for scholarships or financial aid because of her status. Today, because of DACA, she works full time and pays for her college education herself with no assistance. In spite of it all, in spite of EVERY obstacle and set back she’s had to face, her determination has never faltered. THIS IS WHO WE ARE.

You often here from the opposition, those who hate, those who don’t care to understand, “why don’t you get your papers”? They know nothing of the struggle. They know nothing about someone like Aleni enduring a Twenty-year fight just to be a naturalized citizen.

When you see people who look like me in you in the fields, on the construction sites, in restaurants working to provide a better life despite a pitiful wage, we stand strong and proud. Because THIS IS WHO WE ARE. We are not rapists, we are not thieves. And we will NOT be used as talking points for political gain. We Are Providers. We Are Fighters. We Are Survivors.
And that, is who we are.

WE STAND STRONG. THIS IS WHO WE ARE. “

Attempting to Conquer and Cover #SXSW While Battling #Lupus

It’s been a couple of years since I’ve attended SXSW (South By Southwest).  There are a few reasons as to why that is so but for the sake of not making this a 50 page dissertation (insert laugh),  I will only address two of those reasons.

1) Anyone who knows me is quite aware that I am a lover of music who often roots for the indie artist.  You know, that one with so much talent oozing out of the depths of their soul?  The one that prepares for SXSW in hopes that he/she will be seen, heard, or perhaps discovered.  And well, to me, the substance of SXSW isn’t much about that anymore.  And so,  for a while, I decided not to attend because of this but then I thought about it – what if others felt like me? What if we all stopped attending? Then who would be to witness to all of the great music out there? And while, I still have my feelings about the politics of it all, I am not here to criticize. Not at all.  It’s a great experience and I am thankful to be have been a part of it.

2) A couple of years ago I was diagnosed with Lupus, although I had been battling the symptoms years before I was diagnosed. And without going into too much detail, Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation — pain and swelling. It affects the skin, joints, kidneys, lungs, nervous system and other organs of the body (more information here).

With that being said, I recently had to take a step back (I love being busy!) and actually leave the career that I loved so much.  However, I knew I just couldn’t sit at home doing nothing.  Fast forward to today, and I have the privilage of writing for a weekly Houston publication along with contributions to some music blogs here and there; all from the comfort of my own home and at the leisure of my own pace!

So yes, it was time to tackle SXSW again but this time as an accredited writer/photographer.  No lie, I was intimidated.  Covering a festival this massive is fast-paced.  Who can upload their write up first….who got that million dollar picture? How in the hell was I going to keep up?  Please no Lupus flare up. 

Upon opening day of the festival’s interactive and film portion, I had already been to Austin twice that week.  One for a business meeting and the other for the Latin@s In Tech conference.  For some, that 2 to 3 hour drive from Houston to Austin (and back) might be an easy feat but for one battling Lupus, not quite so. Needless to say, my first day at SXSW, I was exhausted yet thankful.  Thankful for the clouds that beautifully shielded that sun from pounding down on me.  Sunlight can cause a lupus rash to flare and may even trigger a serious flare of the disease itself.  The sun has bought me down one time too many.

And I’ll be damned that on the very first day, I began to get a flare-up.  My hands swollen, legs in so much pain – the pain  I just didn’t know how I was going to get from one location to the other – would I give in to the pain in my knees?  The arthritic agony when snapping pictures of iconic artist? 

Unfortunately, in the end Lupus won but I didn’t accept defeat until after I got what I headed to SXSW for! I proved to myself that yes, I can still do what my heart desires, you’re never too old (or sick) to have some fun, and I got my picture of Molly Ringwald during the 30th anniversary of the Breakfast Club!

 

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