I was walking down the street when I heard Donald Trump’s voice. It was coming from a television that had a screen no bigger than a college ruled notebook. He was affirming that he would be running for Office, again.
It was Wednesday, June 19thwhen I heard that crippling news. I was walking down a busy street, waiting for my laundry to finish drying at a local launder mat. The miniature television was inside a woman’s beauty store. The shelves were stocked full of blushes, all different tones of pink.
In the store there were also nail polishes, liquid foundations, foundation powders, mascaras, eyeliners, etc. Everything was perfectly arranged on the shelves, and the woman who owned the store was sitting on a stool. She was sewing. When the woman heard the news, she stopped sewing. The environment didn’t seem appropriate for the news her and I had just learned. The country I was in didn’t feel right to learn the news in.
The Wednesday I learned that Trump would again run for Office I was in Morelia, Michoacán Mexico. My study abroad program would begin in only five days in Santiago de Queretaro, Mexico. Four days into my program, someone mentioned that the debates would be starting soon. Upon hearing this, one of the students in my group chanted, “Trump 2020!” but immediately shrugged it off as a joke when he saw there was no response. I cannot begin to comprehend how this can still be taken as a joke, after it’s been the nation’s reality for the last four years.
Being a fist-generation student university student is marginalizing, but being a first-generation student and studying abroad is completely alienating, despite my host country being my home country.
One day in class, our Language and Society teacher, Liz, asked us about our experiences with immigration. There were five of us in the room, and each student talked about their personal experience, or their families’. I was very pleased to share mine; I am very lucky to have, as Liz called it, a story with a happy ending. After everyone finished sharing, we began talking about how many people unfortunately don’t have stories with the happy endings.
In that room we were all conscious of that. Everyone was aware that when people leave their home countries, it’s usually not because they’re living their best lives there, it’s because they’re escaping violence, poverty, and in many cases, both. It’s comforting to believe that everyone acknowledges this, but it’s believing a lie.
In the United States, I go to school with students who support The Administration and sincerely believe in what it advertises about people of color. In Mexico, this is also the case. It’s difficult to understand that when I sit next to someone, my presence may not affect them, but my skin tone will. This truth becomes harder to swallow when I apply my current geographical context. This is something that is difficult for me to put into words, and something I struggle with deeply.
But in the end, this is my reality. This has been my reality for four years, and it’s devasting to think that it could be my reality for four more.