I organize primarily among immigrant women who want to fight for a better healthcare system and society for themselves and their families. As I support our leaders to recognize their own self worth and to claim what they deserve, I need to do this difficult work alongside them.
Ever since I can remember, I have been providing English interpretation and translation for my parents, who are monolingual Spanish speakers. Without other options, my parents were forced to rely on me to help them communicate, not just at grocery stores or school functions, but also as they tried to navigate more serious things like doctors appointments. As young as age 10, I can remember specifically providing interpretation for my parents and younger siblings at our family clinic for our routine check-ups.
Growing up, and being the daughter of immigrants from Mexico, I always thought this was normal. I thought of it like a debt I needed to pay for the advantages of being a first generation U.S. American. But I also remember feeling very alone in my experience. I thought that only my parents struggled to communicate, and that made me think of my family as the problem.
Hundreds of years after the creation of whiteness in the United States, the 1%–elite whites who are accumulating mass amounts of wealth on our backs–are still banking on us not seeing our shared struggles. They are counting on me, as a white person, to continue to focus on the suffering of others instead of recognizing my own stake in this fight.
Growing up, and for much of my life, I internalized the belief that to think only of others, acting out of selflessness, was the key to a meaningful life. All around me, I saw that those viewed as most worthy in our society were often celebrated for how much they served other people, even though it was at a personal cost to themselves.
Growing up as the daughter of Cuban immigrants, I was taught to always be grateful for what I had, no matter how bad things were. While this made me very humble, it kept me from critiquing many of the systems in the US, even when they didn’t work for me.