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CELEBRATING MY HERITAGE SHOULDN’T BE COURAGEOUS

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September 19, 2017

Hispanic Heritage Month “pays tribute to the generations of Hispanic Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and society.” Every year, we see national media show us segments on food, folkloric dances, or notable figures in history. With our current political climate, it is important to reflect on the heritage we are celebrating, and how the United States continues to devalue Latinx lives.

On the day of the Charlottesville white supremacist rally my dad and I were eating together. I don’t think I have ever seen my dad look as scared as he did at that moment. It was a fear that resonated because I knew that the rally was just the culmination of what has always been there and will continue to be there. Since then, my dad makes sure to remind me that my brownness, my heritage, and my activism place me in constant danger. He is right. As Hispanic Heritage Month begins, I can’t help but think that celebrating my heritage shouldn’t be courageous.

I should be able to celebrate that I am an immigrant without fearing that, at any point, I could be deported. It is not unheard of in American history to see mass deportations of people of color.

I should be able to celebrate that I am from the borderlands without fearing that the Texas government will impose an undue burden on my community. Texas’ HB2 abortion restrictions were especially damaging for Latinx communities in the Rio Grande Valley and in El Paso.

I should be able to celebrate that I am brown and queer without fear that legislation will be passed that targets people like me.

I should be able to learn about my heritage in school, and it shouldn’t be considered radical.

I should be able to celebrate my Latinx community without fear of Border Patrol, ICE, or racist law enforcement.

I should be able to travel without fear of white confederate rallies.

I should be able to live without fear. My heritage shouldn’t put me in danger.

My community is too vulnerable to celebrate. Why should we be courageous all the time? We are tired of being hurt.  I have friends that are leaving for Mexico because they are scared to live in the United States. I have family that no longer knows if they will be able to understand the paperwork necessary to re-establish residency because it has become increasingly difficult to navigate. My family and I have talked about what would happen if we had to leave. It is always on our minds. We are privileged to have some documentation that ensures, at the very least, some protection. Not everyone has that security. DACA has been rescinded, Texas has passed Senate Bill 4, a “show me your papers law,” and our cities are no longer allowed to act as sanctuaries. How can we celebrate Hispanic Heritage when our heritage puts us in constant danger?  I am not here for white allies, media segments, or official statements from people in positions of power that talk about Hispanic Heritage Month without addressing that we live in violent white supremacist nation that makes us feel unsafe.

Image via: Wikimedia Commons

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