(This is a story told to me by a devastated friend, struggling to make sense of this new America. He wishes to remain anonymous.)
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
This is far from the truth: I did not know racism until I came to this great country.
In a place in Pennsylvania whose name I do not want to remember, they called me Mexican! I cried disconsolately of helplessness. Not because I felt more Galician than Mexican, which actually I was. I cried, since among other things I hadn’t even visited that great country. I cried because we were all called Mexican no matter our origins: Galicia, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and even USA. For them we were all the same, we were Mexicans!
Today, thirty years later and especially after President’s Trump election, nothing has changed; perhaps it has become worse. A few waving the flag of ignorance, rancid ideas, and the policies of fear once again call us all Mexicans. Their obliviousness is unimaginable. They think that they insult us by calling us all Mexicans: how ignorant! They do not know what they say. The great country of Mexico gave birth to Chavela Vargas, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Octavio Paz, Carlos Fuentes, and so many other masters of the arts, which in my opinion is the only thing that sets us apart from the rest of the species in the face of the earth.
The great country of Mexico also knew how to welcome more than 20,000 Spanish refugees, including Luis Buñuel and innumerable artists and scientists, when Spain passed through not dark times, but very black ones. This is an unprecedented attack on a country, its people and the language of Cervantes, which makes us understand hundreds of millions of people in the entire world.
I did not know what racism was until I came to this country. Now, everywhere I go I feel that people judge me by the color of my skin and not by my character or my accomplishments. What do I tell my children when they ask me why they too are called Mexicans? What do I tell them when they hear that the president wants to build a wall to keep them out?
As a parent it is hard to explain to your child that individuals’ ignorance make them blame others for their own failures. To keep their head high and pay no attention to what they are called. That they should be proud to be called Mexicans even if they are not; being called Mexican is not an insult, but displays a lack of intelligence by the people that mean to hurt them.