Being Ashamed

“I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.” – D.H. Lawrence

Growing up in the city of Los Angeles, I saw how Latinos were already up at 5am working to survive. They were packing fruit to sell, driving loads of fabrics, cooking fresh tortillas and different kinds of meats, or signaling cars with bright orange flags to enter parking structures. I saw kids, as young as 11 or 12 years old, already helping their father or mother take orders,  peel fruit or vegetables, and carrying crates of merchandise. I know this because they wore their elementary school sweaters. Their sweaters all had quotes about education being the key, but here they were working on school nights and weekends. Not one of them: men, women, or child, ever felt sorry for themselves. I can quote many that said, “I will work till I’m dead,” or, “I’ll work like this so my children can have a better future.” What kind of future can they have, I thought? The kids were working all day long when they could’ve been doing homework or studying. What kind of college can they afford? I have lived and passed through this myself. I know damn well the chances that these kids have, and what kind of future their parents have. We will work until we die.

The days come and go, and holidays pass. I have spent the majority of my life working. I worked more hours than the hours I spend with my family. We are all working towards this dream that things will one day get better, but I don’t know how that will happened if we live paycheck to paycheck, scraping every dollar. I can be halfway done with my life, and all I will have to show for is work experience. I am going to die without ever doing anything  with my life, but I don’t pity myself, it’s a sacrifice so the next generation can hopefully have a better one. We won’t ever have self-pity. We will get up, dress up, and go to work, without ever feeling sorry for ourselves, just to show the next generation that we will give up our lives so maybe one can make it. Out of the three or four pairs of hand on deck, two hands will be free to pick up a book. We hope that one pair of hands can pick up a crate of fruit with one hand, and a book with another. The community I am talking about shows admiration to those who are studying, more so if they are studying and going to school.

For that reason, I remember I would wear my backpack proudly when I was younger, like I was a hero. When I was young, I was lucky enough to have others to look up to. I would see them put on their backpacks like they were superhero capes. People in my community would always talk about their college children with such enthusiasm, and with much respect. It was all I ever wanted to be when I grew up, just a college student, and a graduate one day.




Waking Up To The Trump Wall

Before you read on, choose an answer for the following questions (yes or no):  Did you choose where you were born? Was it your will to wake up today?

I also did not choose where I wanted to be born. I live my life like everyone else, just trying to make the best with what I got. By chance I was born in Mexico, but by the will and ambition of my parents, I grew up in the U.S.A.. My parent told me that I did not have a future back home, so that’s why they decided to enter this country and stay permanently by overstaying  their visa permission. Some would argue that if I wanted to enter this country correctly, we should’ve waited like everyone else. That is a very reasonable perspective. But, my parents, and many other families back home in the same situation, did not have the heart to see their child suffer with the pain of hunger in their stomach. I guess that’s why I knew from an early age that I owed this country my life. I want to do right by the law and this country, but before there was no choice.

I have worked hard here, and paid my dues. I would argue that I have earned my stay here. Donald Trump, and many others who voted for him, would say that, “No matter what, you need to go back. This country is not yours.” I think I’m fine with that decision. I used to be scared of losing everything I had here. But now, I will be graduating from a university in a few weeks. I have gained so much knowledge and experience here that I am not afraid. I have the tools to help my community do better. I know I can hold my own anywhere I go. I just needed that first opportunity to help myself. I think Trump and his supporters are right when they say, “They are taking our jobs.” They fear me. I would fear me. I’m the living walking proof of what they fear most. They’re not scared of the man who cuts their grass, squeezes their fresh orange juice, or plucks their vegetables for them. They are after me because I’m going to school and getting educated.

I’m waking up and going to a dream job right now. I work for a multibillion dollar company. I competed against 5,000 applicants this past summer for an internship position. I competed against their sons and daughters, who attend USC, UCLA, Yale, Stanford, NYU, UC Davis, and other students from across the world. I attended a Cal State because that was all I could afford. I beat every single one of them because only 40 were picked as interns for the summer, and only I got offered a full-time position stay, with full-benefits, a 401K,  paid vacation, sick days, and a nice salary as an entry level employee. And, I can see so many opportunities to move up. It’s endless. I’m younger and hungrier than their fathers that are working in this industry. I would be scared too.

I know I’m not special, or more important than people that were born here. They didn’t decide where they wanted to be born either. I do know that they could’ve chosen any of those other applicants, but instead they chose me. I can be thrown back to my country of birth any day, and my mind would not be disturbed. I saw how far I could go here. The difference between Trump and I, or his followers, is that I wouldn’t build a wall to keep people out. I’m not scared of competition. I would teach my children about what it means to be hungry. I decided to go to college for one specific reason. I wanted to compete against America’s best and brightest, and I wanted to prove to myself that I could stand up and compete. So, back to that argument that I should’ve waited like everyone else. Would you wait on your dream or goals because so many other people are trying to fulfill theirs? Life doesn’t wait for your turn to be up next.