Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Oppressed Voice:

“We should have learnt by now that laws and court decisions can only point the way. They can establish criteria of right and wrong. And they can provide a basis for rooting out the evils of bigotry and racism. But they cannot wipe away centuries of oppression and injustice / however much we might desire it,” (Hubert H. Humphrey). Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a black, battered Corolla. The cracked windows so dark the lightning outside is invisible to the individuals within. The ragged upholstery falling upon your tear stained face with every jerk of the vehicle. Driving behind you is a man you have never met in a vehicle of the same quality carrying your baby brothers. The vehicles are both headed in the same direction; freedom. A few miles down the road there is a man. This man holds the key to your future and your siblings’ future. The haze, lights, and memories of Mexico lie in the rearview mirror. The traditions left behind with your grandmother lay shattered in your memory like flies to a carcass. Will you ever be able to celebrate Cinco De Mayo (Day of the Dead) with your family again? The last smile you will ever see on your grandmother’s face is imprinted in your mind. The only word you know in the English language is American. This is the last memory one of my closest friends has of her country.
Her story, like many others, is one that seems to fade to the back of peoples’ minds when the issue of immigration is brought up. Instead of caring about the sufferings of others’ ignorance and intolerance remain at the forefront of this caliginous battle. Her reality throughout high school consisted of a plethora of issues. To begin, she did not even know how to speak our language. She learned English in one summer before she was enrolled in public high school. As for a stable home life, she has moved four times in a year before just to have a roof over her head. Job supply is scarce especially for Hispanics with no education. Therefore, her step-father has to travel back to Mexico every year for a few months just to earn enough money to pay his bills back in America.
Her days through high school were comprised of a very strict schedule that I cannot even imagine. She woke up every morning around four to help her mother cook in the kitchens to feed the workers in her neighborhood. She helped dress her brothers and send them off to school on the school bus. One of her dreams is to see her brothers lead a life that many of us take for granted. She wants nothing more than for them to have the chance, like me and many people around me, to achieve their dreams without fear of persecution. During the day she was a student. Her course schedule was scattered with AP and Honors classes. After school she went home to work with her mother. She helped her baby brothers with homework and cooked dinner for all the workers in her community. Her homework came last after all of her family was looked after. I asked her one day how she did it all. The response was simple; “I do it because it’s the right thing to do.” It is the right thing for her to spend her time cooking for her neighbors and tending to the needs of her family before her own.
Currently, she is an international student at a major university here in the United States. The last question I asked her about her journey here and her conformity to her new life style was whether she was scared or not. “I do not feel safe from the time I open my eyes to the time I close them. Every time I travel out of my house the haunting visions of my people being deported flash into my mind.”