When I was a little girl my mom told me she was afraid of white people. I never understood why. Her story is the story of many who have traded their life for a better one. My mom arrived in the United States from Mexico in the late '80s. She came to "visit" estranged cousins who lived in Long Beach, California. Her "visit" was meant to be short; instead, she decided never to return to Mexico. Like many women in my mom's situation she found an under-the-table job as a nanny. She spoke almost no English but was determined to learn, to fit in. A few years later she was able to get a green card. She met and married my dad, Irish-Italian through and through. She went back to school and earned an MA in psychology. When I was 5 she became a citizen of the United States. In her eyes, she had finally made something of her life. Except, white mothers at school always confused her for my nanny because I didn't look like her. Except, my father's family criticize her accent and dismiss her culture. They regularly ask me, "how could I relate to the family I still have in Mexico?" They never respected her determination to teach me Spanish, or understand the other half of who I am. Her sister, niece, and nephew are still denied travel visas to visit us, family. If it was difficult before, it will only be harder now. I am afraid.
Issue No. 18 • Spring 2017