My mother called me today. She called me to say, “I am so proud of you. I hope you are safe.”The invocation of safety was thrown in as a filler for protection which she could no longer provide. She is now 2,000 miles away. The mention of pride still flushes my face and creates a knot in my throat.
My mother starved herself crossing the border: a manmade, traveling barrier installed to protect the virtues and interests of the U.S. of A. My mother starved herself crossing the border for my two older brothers. Cold tortillas and tacky candy given to their bloating stomachs, as she ignored her own internal rumblings and focused on the rhythm of their clacking soles instead.
My father starved himself crossing the border: a cemented manifestation of power over land strategically coerced out of the hands of “uncivilized bodies,” as if any of us owned any part of this planet. My father starved himself crossing the border, momentarily stifling the protests in his stomach with folded, carcinogenic fused, burnt tortillas. His skin matched the bottom of a rice pot left on a stovetop grate for too long. His pockets empty of crinkly, green bundles, stripped away by a savior masked coyote.
The lands they left behind were deforested and smoothed, with a price ticket slapped on top. They were propelled into the global market, with not much more than a look back at the its displaced individuals now in rickety dwellings. Bananas screamed in bright yellow atop trees, winking at the fruit companies and its pawns. Funds were generated through selling pieces of gum on the streets.
My mother called me today and created the skeletal framework of a blossoming movement she wishes to join. I cater organs of passionate hope and vessels pumping redemption to the beat of our ancestors’ metronome. She called me today, to tell me of a disagreement that erupted at church. The most religious woman I know denounced pliability and submission, and passive hope for the politics of our nation. She preached of movement and spirit, guidance and love, pride and respect, perseverance and demand.
She called me today to tell me she was afraid–afraid that her attempts to bestow the opportunity of a brighter future would exist as an ephemeral illusion, never to be materialized. She was afraid that the marches of unity and discontent that I attend would become hunting grounds.
She told me she feared a plateau and encore of the cycle of violence even more.
Historically, we have been conditioned to be grateful for the seasonings and dashes of generosity we are given- to not demand for more. To not draw attention to ourselves. To make do with what we have. But we should demand for more, because we are more than what we are treated as. We have rights that the melanin count in our skin does not disqualify us from possessing. We have survived genocide and negligent responses from political suits in times of natural disasters, epidemics, starvations. Instead, we have been showered with incarceration, mass deportation, separation and enslavement. Our food bursts with flavor and our music ignites crowds. Our poems enchant and our prose embed courage in all who read. Our endless persistence seems supernatural and our love knows no boundaries or borders. It transcends time, entire deserts, and seas. Do not settle for dashes of tolerance and sprinkles of neighborly saviors. Feel the family heirloomed callouses under your feet and convert your fear to strength. Let them carry you into demanding that your existence be acknowledged not as a commodity or dispensable scapegoat, but as what we all are: human.