This is Who We Are
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. “