Around five in the afternoon, every Friday, my children excitedly stare out the window. As the red van pulls up, they shout goodbyes at me and give quick kisses before running out the door. “Abuelo!”, they scream as they clamber into the minivan. I spend five minutes picking up before turning everything off and letting the gentle quiet settle on the house.
The weekends are spent with Abuelo and G-ma. An easy solution to finding a babysitter when their mother and I have conflicting work schedules. They spend their next three days playing with toy trains, attending church, and seeing various family members. Tía Kathy will inevitably stop by with her dog, Chuletta, for some quality time with the boys. Shortly after attending a Spanish Mass on Sunday, they’ll return home to tell me all about their weekend.
When with Abuelo, the children speak Spanish. Beautiful, bilingual boys, they come home and return to English, mixing words like ‘agua’ and ‘jugo’ into their sentences. Although I don’t speak Spanish, i’ve learned to understand it through the various Spanish programming I put on during the week for them. Their Guatemalan heritage is not only acknowledged, but celebrated. Their culture is embraced.
Being their father has taught me the importance of being open-minded. Our ideologies are formed by the collection of experiences and memories we have accumulated throughout our life.
The growing divide facing not only The United States of America but the world is impossible to ignore. You could try to cull your Facebook of opposing views, only to find them seeping in through comment sections. Complete strangers, hurling vitriol at one another. Their disdain tearing the seams of decency.
Like oil and water, our melting pot is becoming immiscible.
A video shows people in different positions of political power demanding people in America speak English. My son asks me for leche. A caller on C-SPAN asks why we don’t vet Puerto Ricans more as they move through the states. My child wants frijoles with his breakfast.
Scrolling the comments, I see the vitriol. the ‘If you don’t like this country, you can leave!’ and the ‘This is America, you need to conform or get out!’. The ‘Get out of my country!’.
This White Trash Rhetoric, infringing on the very beliefs this country was founded upon. Instead of celebrating our differences, there is a growing movement to uniform our beliefs.
I look at my children. Will someone shout, ‘Speak English!’ in their faces? My blood boils at the thought.
As a father to multi-cultured children, it’s my duty to protect them and raise them to be proud of themselves.
I’ve grown tired of hate-filled rhetoric rooted in fear and anger. I read a comment about liberalism being a cancer that needed to be wiped out. The only disease this country has is hatred and it’s spreading.
We should be embracing and trying to understand one another. Yet, here we are.
I try to bite my tongue when it comes to these sort of things. I know there isn’t much I can say to change anyone’s mind. The lines are drawn in the sand.
I am sure some will say I am overreacting. It isn’t MY children who will be singled out for their differences. They are born and raised. If they don’t speak Spanish in public, people will never even know about their heritage.
We lock ourselves in like cowards and turn people away out of a fear. Because they are different.
Locking people out isn’t protecting us. it isn’t protecting my children. It’s turning my back on someone else’s.
This country was founded by people fleeing oppression.
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” The New Collosus by Emma Lazarus
As we lock the golden door, I wonder if we will pry this plaque from Lady Liberty and use it as a barricade.
I do not fear people who are different from me.
I fear White Trash Rhetoric and hate mongering.
I fear this country’s rapid movement towards socially acceptable discrimination.
Scroll any vitriol-infested comment section and you can see it’s already begun. You can find people advocating for the death of those with differing views. Vocalizing their desire to destroy. To inflict violence and fear. Dehumanizing one another.
I stare at my children and wonder not if, but when they will become the focal point of someone’s hatred. When cowards will use fear-laced-hatred to target them.
I am not some liberal ‘snowflake’. I am a father to multicultural children.
I will always celebrate their diversity.
I will always defend it.