There is so much to say and so much left unsaid. I was part of the 18 million cracks made in the nation’s highest glass ceiling back in 2008. I vowed that if she ever ran again that, no matter where I was in this world, I would move mountains and I would be there. I am proud to say, that I was.
At first, I thought it would be like last time. I wanted to volunteer, I needed to find local contacts, how do I get involved? So many questions, so excited to find the answers. But this would not be like last time. This time would be different.
I remember when the republican candidate Donald Trump announced his candidacy. I didn’t know much about him except that he owned some hotels, something about bankruptcy, but mostly I knew him as that dude from ‘The Apprentice.’ I was watching the TV and was excited to get the races going.
As he began his speech, I half-listened and was mostly amused, how could someone with absolutely no experience, apply for the highest office. I laughed and thought “this dude is really arrogant, but whatever” and then he said “when Mexico sends people, they aren’t sending their best, they are sending criminals and rapists” and I remember I immediately stopped laughing and I sat up, my heart pierced. The words he said next came fast and heated.
I remember my head spinning. This can’t be happening? This MUST be illegal, right? I mean you can’t yell “fire” falsely in a theater, therefore this kind of hate speech must be against the rules for president right? I waited in the days that followed, for public outrage, a decry, something, but no…there was nothing. Nothing illegal about it. No rule to say he wasn’t allowed to run.
And for many of us, this was the beginning. Something had shifted across the nation. As Trump continued to make comments “send them all back” or “we are getting them out of here” and portrayed us as drug dealers and “cartel gangs” I also remember how angry I felt.
Insult after insult he hurled towards MANY groups, yet he was allowed to continue, and the world watched.
I now knew that this election would not be what I had wanted it to be. This would be a a different kind of defining moment. This would be time for us, as the collective, to decide what kind of nation we would be.
Would we continue to move toward progress, liberty and justice for all? Or would we crumble in the face of racism, and bullying, pummeling us back into the dark parts of America’s history. The line had been drawn in the sand, and there would be no gray area, no “in the middle” at least not for me.
You either stood against his ideals or you didn’t.
I felt my soul calling that if ever there was a time to fight for the Latino community, the time was here. This was not a drill, it was time to suit up for battle. I was blessed to come across an opportunity to join in the efforts for this election and on a quick turn around I made the big move to Washington D.C.
This was the moment, this was the time, I had to do ALL I could for my heritage, my people, and all those that had been targeted by candidate Trump.
In the last year I have gone through tons of fights, as many of us have fought with family, co-workers, friends, spouses etc…I have had things shouted at me, social media attacks, I have had to call my family back in El Paso and warn them for their safety as I was targeted by some Trump supporters.
I have had go into a self made “social media witness protection” of sorts, it has been intense, to say the least.
I will never forget how I felt when that man made those racist remarks, I will never forget the disappointment and pain I felt at friends who support him. And I will never forget the anger and hurt I feel, the tears I have to hold back every single time I hear his mobs chant, “build that wall.”
For me, (at one point when I was very young) being Mexican was something that people made me feel ashamed of. There were early years where I was self-conscious of my name, my “accent” and even refused to eat beans in public.
It took me many years of soul searching and educating myself through special topics courses at UTEP to find my path to self- love and healing from the white-washing that Texas textbooks had done to my heritage and therefore altered the way I myself, viewed my identity.
I am happy to say it’s been over 10 years since I felt any shame in who I am, or where I come from, I have had nothing but Latino pride…proud of my Mexican heritage, proud of being an American, proud of being born and raised in Texas. So this election has touched on a deep hurt that I had not felt in many, many years.
I don’t ever want to feel those feelings of fear that I once felt in my youth. And I don’t want the children of today to feel that fear or shame either. I remember my niece coming to us one day in tears because she knows that we are Mexican, and she knew that Trump was saying bad things about Mexicans.
This is not what I wanted for her future and I am sure many feel that way too. So I chose to fight. My last memory before I left for D.C. was my niece and I hugging in a tearful goodbye and I reminded her that WE were fighting for Hillary and that anytime she felt sad, to just remember that WE were in this together and we were fighting for Hillary against Trump.
And so I left, with the the help of my amazing family. And tonight I sit at my desk in Washington D.C., thinking of my home state, my home town, my family and friends. We are hours away from, what I hope, will be a historic night for women’s herstory, but also a night of hope.
Where love and progress fought back and beat out racism and fear. I will never forget this experience as long as I live, and one day years from now when someone ask me, what did I do? what did I say? I can answer, I stood up, like many of us did, and I fought back.
Tonight is full of emotions, I think of all the hard working families I grew up with, I couldn’t tell you who was born here or who wasn’t because we are all a community intertwined like a quilt.
I think of the many friends who were finally able to have the weddings they always wanted, and have their love be recognized. I think of the friends that have that gone through witnessing families being torn apart by deportation. It’s too much, it’s all just too much.
Over the months that follow I hope I will begin to heal but I know I will never forget this attack on my people… Now I, along with the nation, will hold our breath as we wait for the next page in America’s history to be written, and I pray it’s a good one.