The results of this election brings back some very painful memories for me. Imagine this: It is 2008, I am walking around Costco with my one-year-old. He is sitting in the cart while we were standing in line waiting for Papi to get “one last thing.” I am snuggling with him and speaking words of love to him in Spanish. “Dame un besito mi amor! (Give me a little kiss my love)!” He leans his head into me and kisses me in that sloppy way that little ones kiss. I ask him questions in Spanish asking him to point to his nose, his eyes, his head and he adorably complies. Just then, a man walks by with his two teenage daughters and says, rather loudly, “I’m tired of hearing all this Spanish stuff! If you’re in America you should speak English.” I stay silent because I am with my baby and concerned that if I confront him he will make a scene, yell at me and scare my son.
Greg returns and immediately notices something is wrong. I tell him what happened and he jumps into rescue mode by approaching the guy and calling him out. He tells him that I have more education in my pinky than he probably does in his entire family tree. He asks him how many languages he speaks. He even calls the manager and tries to get his membership revoked. We walk out. The man goes his way and we go ours.
That kind of interaction was all still very new and unfamiliar to my husband. It wasn’t, however, the first time something like that has happened to me. While this kind of ignorance is everywhere I knew that moving to Georgia would likely result in more in-your-face vitriol. I am always ready for those kinds of interactions. Being ready for a proverbial slap in the face, however, does not mean it will hurt any less.
I was not, in any way, ready for last night’s election results. I was afraid of it but not ready. I was genuinely concerned but not ready. I have followed this election very closely and watched both CNN and Fox News coverage. I have listened to his speeches about Mexicans, “The Wall,” and deporting “illegals.” I remembered the interview where he questioned the qualifications of a judge because, “He’s Mexican.” I watched incredulously when he actually said the phrase “bad hombre” during a presidential debate. But as I saw the electoral map grow more and more red, all I could think…all I could feel is, “Oh my God…look how much they hate us.”
Here’s the thing that scares me though. Costco guy identified himself. He let me know exactly who he was and how much he hated people like me (or in his mind, I guess, loved HIS country). To be honest it is easier to deal with people like that because I know who they are and where they stand. The frightening thing, however, is the reality that I cannot possibly identify who does or does not support those “immigration policies.” The people that scare me are not the Costco guys. They ones that truly scare me are the really nice people who would, with all sincerity, tell me, “He’s not talking about people like you Marisela. He’s talking about illegals. He’s talking about criminals.” These nice people don’t know my history. They don’t know my status. They don’t know my family. They don’t know my community. They see a college-educated, upper-middle-class, light-skinned Latina who drives a BMW and is married to a White guy. Therefore, I am not “one of those people.” What these nice people don’t understand is that I am those people and those people are me.
I know this election means that “the people” have spoken. I’m just deeply concerned with what they are saying, not just about Latinos but my brothers and sisters who were also in the crosshairs of this campaign including Muslims, members of the LGBT community, refugees, etc… Let me say again that many of these people, I’m sure, are very nice. I know and have met a lot of very NICE Trump supporters. Still…as an old friend once told me, “NICE people are usually the ones that are Not Inclined to Critically Examine.”
I don’t know if that red represents love for Trump or hate for Hillary but, honestly, both scare me.