I fear the Trump presidency because Donald Trump has made it acceptable to demonize Mexico and dehumanize immigrants. As I have written before, I have never felt discriminated against based on the color of my skin. However, there have been times where I felt that I had to hide my Mexican citizenship or not speak Spanish publicly out of fear for the looks and reactions I would get from people. In other words, I hid my Mexicanism because of the antagonism it elicited. This was true in El Paso and in other parts of the United States.
In recent years, I started to feel better about being Mexican, both in citizenship and as part of my heritage, while in the United States. I started to feel like I was part of the landscape rather than living in the shadows. And, yes that is what it is, life in the shadows. When I must hide the fact that I am a Mexican citizen or create the illusion that I speak English better than I speak Spanish then I am living in the shadow of anonymity. Unless you live it, is hard to comprehend what it truly means.
Living in the shadows transcends legal or undocumented. It has nothing to do with “doing it the right way” and everything to do with my inability to be myself out of the fear that to be myself will result in being told, through words and expressions, that I do not belong.
That is my fear for the next four years of my life, and possibly more.
I comprehend the notion that politicians must say certain things to be elected. Donald Trump started his presidential campaign by demonizing Mexican immigrants as criminals and attacking Mexico as a source of danger to the US. From there his rhetoric against immigrants and Mexico grew louder. As such, I have to take him at his word, although a small part of me hopes that it was all bluster to be elected, that he meant most of what he said.
I have a choice, I can honker down in the darkness and hope it all blows over soon, or that I am wrong about Donald Trump. Or, I can add a small voice to the many who cannot speak out of sheer terror. If I am wrong about Donald Trump, then I’ll be pleasantly surprised. If my fears come to reality, then I’ve decided to put my fear in check, come out of shadows and continue to give a voice to those in the shadows through my writings and through my art and multimedia projects.
It is not about right vs. the left, or the Democrats vs. the Republicans. It is about the fear of losing my voice to express myself unhindered by my nationality.
Tomorrow, I’ll share with you more about how I see the future of the Donald Trump presidency for immigrants, Mexico and politics of nationalism in a global economy. For now, I just need to take a break to muster the strength to come out of the shadows I and other immigrants were put into through the election results.