History has periods in which events occur in vertiginous succession, in which human actions accelerate spiraling into darkness, in which life takes place in a pendular state between stupor and vertigo. Just like now, although not everyone notices the effects in the same way.
If you are part of the migrant community in the “Ungodly States”, you are currently living under constant threat, daily direct attacks uncertainty about whether the day will end as it began. Meanwhile, many of the people who are not directly affected by the cruelties of the moment, continue to live, in horror, or in a dignified state of shock, such as the orchestra of the Titanic, or looking the other way, although there are few corners left to look where the rot cannot be seen. It is inevitable to conclude what reality shouts us every two minutes: this ship is sinking.
However, it is not sinking in the same way everywhere. There are less sunken states where the migrant community is more protected, recognized, and respected. There are states that provide the opportunity for all the people who live there to get a driver’s license, for example. There are states that have legislated not to collaborate with ICE. And, although with this damn federal agency you cannot be safe anywhere in this country, there are places where you can live with less fear, in communities surrounded by people who are actively interested in the migrant community and its well-being, that are organized to welcome and protect the migrant community.
But none of this applies to the south. The south has never wanted anyone who was not white, from the beginning, since the border crossed Mexican and indigenous communities to the south of what is today Texas, Arizona, New Mexico. Here, in the south, the migrant community is needed, but neither we are recognized nor respected, nor are accepted other traditions that are not the identity creations of the white community or those that have been appropriated. Here, in the south above all, speaking other languages is repudiated, including those spoken before the manufacturing of this country and that are considered today as “foreign”, even in universities (and this without considering languages native of this part of the continent, much older still). Here, in the south, we are not wanted even if we are needed, because this is how the rancid hatred that gives rise to a racism of ages works, passed from generation to generation until it constitutes the DNA of institutions and laws. Here, in the south, we are not respected as people, the darker the skin color the less.
So it’s time to pack again and keep looking for a better place.
It may seem exaggerated, but it is not; the ship is sinking and breaking and will trap us with no way out. You may think that it is not going to happen to you, but consider whether you want to roll the dice in this rigged casino table and risk being separate from your family, or risk that a coward, callow man decides to go to the store to use his assault rifle after leaving his anti-immigrant manifesto on the networks. It may seem impossible, titanic even, but yes, it can be done. I know it, and you know it, because we have done it successfully before, against bigger or smaller odds. Each person in the migrant community has left everything they knew to go to an unknown place; without having the means many times, without fully knowing the language (or not knowing it at all), without knowing if they can ever return.
But remember: we are migrants. And being a migrant means having courage, skill, resilience, inventiveness, endurance, hope, vision. We are the essence of the human species distilled through thousands of generations, migration after migration. Our spirit is pure and our heart is full of the substance with which the future of our species is made.
We are migrants. We are no longer what we were, and we are not yet what we will become. Our lives gain meaning while in transit and our roots are not so deep that we cannot resume walking and migrate to another place to lay the flowers and fruits of our existence.
The ship is sinking … from the south, and it is time to pack again and go to another more pleasant deck, to another place where there is an opportunity to be recognized and respected.
(Translated from “Hay que Hacer las Maletas Otra Vez”, in El Informante de Memphis, published on August 9th, 2019)