So, I’m Latino. It’s not that big of a deal. To begin with, there’s nothing much different about me from white people, black people, Asians, Indigenous. I’m born by myself, I live for myself and I aspire to die beside my best friend: myself. So why is Hispanic Heritage Month so important? It’s an opportunity to educate new generations on their ancestors’ triumphs and struggles. There’s reason to celebrate the meaning of family. Still, there’s a need to fight for representation and respect alike, in a society that still doesn’t get it.
Now, I could go on and detail the country is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. Furthermore, speak on which films to watch. Just to get you in the mood. But here’s the thing…
We’re still in the middle of a pandemic.
I’m not sure how, where or when they’re celebrating. And maybe all that warrants is a good search. I can indicate that Youngstown, Ohio is turning their food festival into a drive-thru. Perhaps, I can discover that the Los Angeles Dodgers released a video promoting the richness of that culture in baseball. Hell, I can mention my own feelings about Joe Biden playing “Despacito” in Kissimmee, not far from my childhood home.
But, while that would satisfy required SEO standards, it wouldn’t satisfy me.
Now, if you met me in real life, “hispanic,” “latino,” or “Colombian” wouldn’t quite come to mind. That’s fine. I’m over that. But whether that’s well-known or not, all people deserve respect, response and reform. And recently – sorry to drop a damper here – those basic rights may have been violated.
One night, I was hanging out with my cousin Laura. I haven’t seen her for so long, since she’s jet-setting back and forth between the United States and Morocco.
And that night was actually the night of July 4th.
Afterwards our short dinner and long conversation, she did me the solid of driving me back to my house. As we’re nearing her car, it’s nighttime and I see the sky illuminated with many fireworks of varying distances.
Her neighbor, a white woman, was standing outside as well, enjoying the sights with her own posse. I saw her watching us. People have eyes, therefore, I didn’t think much of it. Seemed pretty ordinary.
As we entered the car, I started listing the directions for Laura to take on the route home. But, when we were about to leave, we heard a loud SMACK-SMACK-SMACK on the window. I turn and jump in shock.
Suddenly, the woman was centimeters from the glass. More importantly, millimeters from breaking the glass with a fist. “Are you going to leave?” She had to hear a response. Somehow, in the dark, my cousin assumed that her impatient neighbor would see her thumbs up. To which, the woman responded “good!”
Finally, as we drove off, I begin to ask Laura “the Hell’s wrong with her?” Doesn’t she know what you’ve been through?” It made me livid that this ignorance hit my cousin at all. Yet, what Laura told me next still burns a hole through my brain in anguish.
“Danny, a ella no importa.”
For the life of me, I can’t remember in my 26 years of existence such a level of disrespect. I don’t care what the intention. The tone and energy came towards my relative in such a heartless way. Unlike me, Laura grew up in Colombia for some twenty-odd years before moving to America. Had I not been there, I wouldn’t’ve met such unprovoked racism.
A sucker-punch for speaking Spanish.
I don’t totally, 100%, absolutely know what it’s like to get threats by the cops. However, in this world, basic rights aren’t for basically everyone. That much I get. And that’s annoying. Beyond annoying. It’s discouraging.
Why look to hurt different people at all? Because we’re from another country? Are we bringing their traditions across borders? Or could we lack English comprehension?
That strikes me as inhumane.
Firstly, nobody should be judged for who they are. It can’t be helped. There’s no point in angrily pushing an agenda that can’t change. That said, it’s better to accept and live on. Secondly, everybody should receive the types of opportunities for success all Americans hope to achieve. That’s what living in an unbiased universe should feel like. Thirdly, and most importantly, how do negative folks benefit from inflicting pain onto others. You’re not understanding what scares you. However, if you just took some time to actually understand the plights of your fellow individual, maybe you could relate. Hell, appreciate! Therefore, this whole thing about no one being treated right happens on all levels of existence, all walks of life, all states of the union.
In conclusion, the short of this in case it was “TL;DR” is that every human deserves a chance to prove themselves. And what I can say for sure, is that I can’t wait to see my family again, whenever that is. So that I can catch up with my hermana, so I can laugh with my abuelito and so my prima Laura and I can walk up to the front door and politely ask what was her angle, on the night of America’s liberation from a country that disrespected them, to not fall far from the tree of hate?
I didn’t want to leave this article on a totally negative point so here’s a sketch from Comedy Central’s Arturo Castro that I can relate to when I feel guilty about not being enough.
Update: I am. And so is anyone with a heart. (My apologies to the differently-abled. I meant that proverbially.)