“They are not our friend, believe me. They’re bringing drugs. They are bringing crime. They’re rapists….and some, I assume, are good people.” Donald Trump, president of the United States.
At times like this, it seems to me that everything else is unimportant.
Lately, I’ve been really thinking about the importance of identity. It all started with an earthquake of 7.1 Richter scale that hit Mexico City September 19th.
I got home, saw the news on Twitter, and immediately yelled for my mom. Of course, the more I read about it, the more fear set in. And in just four seconds, a whole city fell down to pieces, crushing mercilessly everything in its way.
I have friends that lost classmates, family who lost work friends, and I saw many citizens lose absolutely everything they owned. They lost everything that they had worked a whole lifetime for.
However, I’m not here to talk about the loss. No. I am done talking about losses.
I am here to tell you about the win.
I went to an art museum this week, an art museum to be exact (surprise, surprise), and I got to tour the section of African Art.
Our tour guide was an old man with white hair, light blue eyes, and a thick European accent. He had one of those narrator voices that you only hear in children’s movies. He told us about the meaning behind African art and the heavy correlation it has with their identity.
Now, we are all very aware that Africa was colonized by many European countries. European countries arrived to Africa with the idea to expand their land, gain riches, and in other words: to establish themselves as superiors. But when they first arrived to Africa, they came across people who they deemed as “savages.”
The people they encountered had beautiful chocolate skin (although they didn’t agree), they heard people who had thick melodic dialects (which frustrated Europeans because they did not understand them), and they came across people with scars on their back that they made because that was considered beautiful in Africa (but the colonizers thought it to be “barbaric”).
The colonizers not only called them “savages,” but they considered them to be part of the lowest class of society. There were the royals, then were the people who were rich (but not as important as the royals), then there was the middle class, then there were farmers, then the low class, then people who were considered scum, and then there were these “savages.”
Africans went on to endure a whole load of bullshit from their colonizers. The main reason being: colonizers had no respect for identity.
They had no respect for their sacred rituals, no place inside their tiny brains for acceptance to a different skin color, no mercy for people whose home they besieged and took advantage of.
It is a fight that black people still fight today. They fight for the respect of their identity.
“Patria Patria tus hijos te juran, exhalar en tus aras su aliento, si el clarín con su bélico acento, los convoca a lidiar con valor.” – Francisco Gonzáles Bocanegra, Mexican National Anthem.
After the earthquake the most mind blowing thing happened in Mexico City. For the first time in years, the whole country started to work together. Young people, old people, poor people, and rich people, all went out and helped in whatever way they could.
Some stayed all night digging people out from the rubble, and lifted heavy building parts to dig them out. Some spent days with axes and shovels, and lifting rocks until their hands bled. The poorest of people, were donating small sacks of rice to those who lost their home. People with a lot of money donated clothes and food. Stores ran out of toiletries because of how many people bought them in order to give them the victims. Home Depot literally ran out of home supplies because they are being used in the rebuilding of our city. Mexicans from around the world have been donating their money to associations that go deep in the rubble to find people. “Tamaleros” and “Taqueros” (people who sell street food) have been preparing free foood for people with absolutely nothing.
In other words: my country has made me the most proud than it has ever done in my entire life.
Much like other cultures, we have been disrespected for our identity.
We have had the U.S president speak of us as if we were some sort of disease.
For years, we have been the punchlines of other people’s jokes.
We have been stepped over by our own government for God knows how long, and we pay the price with our lives.
We have been unjustly represented by the media as lazy.
To some, we are nothing more than the image of a man in a sombrero and a mustache. Or the image of a cleaning lady. Or the image of a hot woman with a hot accent.
But not this week. This week, we are none of those things. We are not “huevones.”
We are a country who shows up. A country who has always shown up. We show up for our people, for our family, and we even show up for countries who don’t want us.
We are a culture based on sharing. We are a culture that strongly adheres to the “mi casa es tú casa.” Because that is just the kind of people that we are. We are the people who will let their own hands bleed in order to save a stranger. The flavorful culture who most of the time is misunderstood, but nevertheless wants you to be a part of it.
Maybe this event is a blessing in disguise. Maybe a city was destroyed just for the purpose to create a much better one.
And maybe for the first time in a long time….
….we celebrated our identity with pride.
Lastly, this is my own unique experience, however, each of us fights for identity in different ways. Whatever you identify yourself as, it is most likely that you have had to fight for it in some way. Whether that is your sexuality, or your body image, or the dreams you want to follow that people tell you are stupid, or your beliefs. Chances are, that you have struggled with your identity. So hear me out: do not make yourself smaller just because someone thinks they are bigger than you. In the face of adversity, don’t turn your back. Don’t let absoloutely anyone, and that includes people of status, to step over your identity like it is nothing. Don’t let anyone degrade you for something that you just can’t help but being.
Click the link below to see the many ways you can help Mexico:
I currently do not have any sources to help the victims in Puerto Rico. If you do, please let me know as soon as possible so I can put a link for the victims.