How I Feel
I like to think that I came here because I wanted to and not because my country expelled me.
When you leave from Mexico to come to the United States, your friends understand it but also get angry. You gave up. You couldn’t bear the national tragedy. I knew that leaving Mexico meant leaving my family behind to come to a place that didn’t want me. I knew that but I still came here and against all odds, I found community. One day, my father, who has always encouraged me to return home, told me I was better off staying. This happened after he had gone through a year of receiving weekly life threats, being unemployed, and marginally surviving his illness. And so I began calling this place home. For a while, it felt like it. It is my home but not my country. I’m not a citizen. So on November 8, my heart was beating so fast at the idea that my ability to stay here was being decided and I didn’t have a say. The lady on CNN spoke so loudly: “the first poll results coming in.” And then a long night of being reminded that half of this country does not believe in my humanity. All those states in red. My friends getting insulted in public spaces, hiding, fearing, making urgent calls to family members: Are you safe? Are you at home right now? Don’t leave the apartment. Trump had won. People of color across this country, we weren’t surprised, we were just so fucking angry. All these plans about our future crashed within a night. As Trump was announcing his victory, millions of people of color began thinking about strategies for survival. For staying healthy. For staying here at all. This is my home but this won’t be my home for much longer. Now the possibility of a visa renewal is gone. In two years when my visa expires, I want to think that I am going back home because I want to, not because this country expelled me.
How I Feel
This war has gone on too long, my mother says to me as I fill her arms with tears in July. I wish I could change your skin so I could protect you. I pull away, hard. I am my father’s Black, his earnest laugh and tight curls. She worried when I left our home in California. She worried, too, when she realized she would have a Black and Latina daughter all at once in this world and not the next, not the one of our desert dreams. I am my mother’s olive, Mexican and still afraid, even after three generations of labor, of service to land that boldly accepts disgust for everything we are.
I slept and we formed those knots that happen when your mind jumps to a bad spot and replays a gruesome scene over—but these are memories now. I remember being discarded on TV screens by 59,611,678 of my “fellow Americans.” As the night passed phone calls to families flooded the watchroom; they increased with every hour and my friends expressed love to their immigrant parents because no one else would. We broke together in solidarity, hugging and weeping and searching for help while those outside celebrated the continuation of an era of hate and invalidation. Swallow your gut, your grief, your mother and father. Keep moving or be left behind.