What would it feel like to feel like you are constantly telling people that you and your family and people who look like you are good people? Unfortunately, Mexican Americans experience this more often than we would like to believe as shares the woman in this story. She recognizes and admits that she is an immigrant but also tells of her life in Mexico and why it was necessary to escape. She has been in America for most of her life but still feels that she has to defend her presence here. On her birthday she goes to the grocery store and comes face to face with a young white man who she smiles at, but he stares at her with nothing but hate. He then verbally attacks her with offensive comments that are stereo types of what people believe to be true about immigrants but was not true for her. As she listened to his rant and waited for him to finish, she politely smiled him and went on about her business not realizing that moments later he would come back into the grocery store in El Paso, TX and start shooting people. Was it her simple smile that kept him from killing her? She will never forget this day or the events that led up to the shooting, nor will she ever forget the live she now lives as a survivor. A different kind of survival story and a reality check that every tragic thing that we see happening to other people can happen to us even if you are a representation of good people.
It feels like I spend a good amount of my time telling others that we are good people. Even though I say “La Familia” my family is just as important to me as yours. That when I am speaking Spanish to my daughter and my grandchild I do not in any way mean any disrespect to those around me who don’t understand what I’m saying. Living on eggshells is an understatement. I didn’t quite understand what that meant until recent years. We lived a happy life for so long as a family who was well aware that we were immigrants. But when you are welcomed with open arms it doesn’t make you feel like you did something wrong by doing whatever it takes to save your family. Yes, I came here illegally as did my parents. But tell me, and I truly want you to be honest, to what ends would you go to save your child? Would you steal food from them out of the convenient store, or would you scavenge through trash cans to feed them? My parents did both. Living homeless on the streets of Mexico, starving, living in a world where the roof over my head were the stars above. Making that trip is not for the weak, but rather for the heroes.