May Day and Lessons Learned

Yesterday I participated in the Immigration March in Washington D.C. alongside my friends and thousands of others who were there to make their voices heard. To describe in detail the emotions I felt is nearly impossible. My heart exploded with joy, fight, and ganas (determination). I walked alongside immigrants, supporters, mothers, fathers, students, and organizations while chanting, “We are here to stay. The people united, will never be defeated.” It affirmed for me once again that as a social worker I fight for the vulnerable, my black and brown brothers and sisters, the oppressed, as well as invite those who aren’t black and brown as supporters of this very important cause.

Before, my disdain for white people rung like no other. Given my experiences growing up and the discrimination I faced from white people, I swore to never engage them yet alone, befriend a white person. However, marches like these and experiences throughout my career and life, have taught me that not all white people are bad. Show me an ethnicity that doesn’t have a bad seed? Couldn’t do it huh? Don’t get me wrong, racist and willingly ignorant white people are alive and well and fighting just as hard as we are unfortunately. And I can’t stand these folks, but I am not referring to them. I am referring to white people who understand that we are all part of the HUMAN race, regardless of color, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, etc. People who may not understand our struggles or what it’s like to suffer as a person of color, but are willing to fight just as hard and by our side for equal rights.

To say that I’m not struggling with this post or this lesson would be a lie. I still have a lot of anger from my childhood and how I was treated. I carry anger for how minorities have been treated by the majority in our country’s past and present day. I understand that white privilege exists and some wear it with pride while others feel shame. At the end of the day, I am Latina and proud and will always fight for mi gente without a doubt. But this has to be put out there and I have to face this as well. What I’m saying is, I am more willing and able to listen and open my mind to what white people who want to support us have to say. I am slowly learning, but still have some work to do with it.

Yesterday we were approached by all people…black, white, young, old, and we shared stories while walking together. We all shared the same sentiment…every human being deserves the right to thrive and treated with dignity and respect. At the end of the day, we are all impacted by racism regardless of economic status or the color of our skin. If we march together, fight together, love together, we have a better chance of fighting against injustice and educating the ignorant and evil. Hate on hate does nothing. Ignorance does nothing. Fighting one another does nothing.

So what did I learn? To engage all allies regardless of skin color, to continue fighting for the rights of the oppressed and violated, to listen to those against you even if it makes your skin crawl (we can fight harder knowing where they stand), and to never let my light dim. As I rode the metro home after the march, I couldn’t help but notice that I sat in the train car that had the following sign: “You’re destined to change the future”.

 

Immediately I thought of my work, my passion, my family, and my reasons for everything I am doing in my personal and professional life. The sacrifices I am making and where I see myself in a couple of years. What I can tell you is this. I do this for my parents who came to this country over 30 years ago and sacrificed so much so that my sister and I could be strong and educated women. I do this for my clients who want nothing more than to have the American dream. I do this for trauma survivors who are trying to make their lives whole. I do this for black and brown kids who want nothing more than to matter and succeed in life. I do this for my Latina women and women of color who are badass and beautiful inside and out. I do this for you. I do this for our country. I do this for me. Much love!

 

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