What are inedible memories? As a child I remember being rushed to a hospital, I would later learn that I was deathly ill with a viral infection. I was probably six or seven years old, that would have been approximately 1957. I was cradled in my mom’s arms as my father dashed to the nearest hospital. We were a migrant family living in a labor camp with no medical resources, the nearest hospital was in Yakima, Washington. Mother was screaming in Spanish as she rushed through the hallway of the hospital, ‘my son, my son, help us’. What unfolded to an impressionable young boy in the following hours would haunt me for the rest of my life.
I recall my parents attempting to navigate through a language barrier and an administrative process that did not accommodate migrants. As I lay in an emergency room one, of the nurses that was attending me turned to another nurse and stated we usually do not treat the migrants here. Those words would be etched in my memory, as a young child I was unable to comprehend this indifference. After being treated and cradled in my mother’s arms, we returned to our cabin that resembled a storage building with a wooden stove and no running water. In the following days, my mother would recite the Rosary and plead with God that she could not endure the experience of losing another child. Mother had just lost my younger sister the prior year from an incurable cancer.
My father migrated from México with his mother in 1916 and raised a family of 16 and would see two of his son’s serve our country in World II and the Vietnam War.
This lens into my life is a small glance of systemic racism that still looms over our country 100 years later. The irony here is that my father did not cross the border; the border crossed him. Texas was annexed in 1845 by the United States.
I want to share this experience with hope that it awakens a nation to the atrocities that are occurring on our southern border today. What will it take for a nation to awaken and push back the hate that has been fueled by Trump’s administration?
We are a nation that has lived through the genocide of Indigenous people, the American Indian, the African American that was chained and enslaved. In addition to Japanese Americans, that were displaced from their homes during World War II and relocated to internment camps. Not to mention thousands of Mexican American citizens that were rounded up throughout the country during the Great Depression and dropped at the Mexican border.
Philosopher George Santayana, stated, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
This is not the América I fought for, a president that has stepped and berated every ethnicity in our country. Giving accreditation to the Klu Klux Klan, embracing tyrants like Vladimir Putin of the Soviet Union and Kim Jong-un of North Korea. President Trump has wrapped himself around the American flag and soiled the memory of all those Americans that lost their life defending América. During the Vietnam War, Trump was a draft dodger and hid behind his wealth, while poor African Americans were being drafted out of América’s ghettos. During this same time the Justice Department sued Trump for not renting to African Americans.
In spite of what Trump represents and the stench of hate that looms over his presidency, we must ask ourselves, why the silence? We Hispanics represent about 18 % of the U.S. population or approximately 60 million, yet the majority of us remain noncommittal when dealing with the crisis on the southern border. We Latino’s in América remain an enigma still waiting for América to validate our presence.
We have our images pressed against an imaginary wall waiting for América to give us our rightful place in the American landscape. So we refuse to accept the images of these children in cages, as we too, have imprisoned ourselves.
América must have a united voice to condemn the atrocities that are occurring on our southern border. This crisis defies any ethnicity or political opinion, but lies in the bedrock of humanity. As a nation we should rise above ideologies and perceived beliefs and take a hard look at the child lying beside his father next to a riverbank face-down dead. Their crime was seeking a better life. What faith can deny their dream?
We must ask those at the pulpit, the priest, pastor, or rabbi to be fluent not only in word, but in action.
Martin Luther King stated, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
If you are without empathy for these children that are being caged, living in squalor and ripped from the arms of their parents, let me make an analytical argument.
We are a nation that cannot turn our back on these migrants seeking asylum fleeing their country of origin, referred to as the Northern Triangle of Central América; Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. The migrant caravan is trekking 2,000 miles on foot with just the clothes on their back. They are leaving their native countries, leaving behind violent street gangs, corruption and governments that fail to build a sustainable economy. América has been a neighbor and has interfered with their governments on the premise of Nation Building. Our footprint in these countries is well documented; The United Fruit Company dominated the production and export of bananas and introduced the banana to América in the 1900’s. This corporation grew both in political influence and monetary wealth. The Indigenous people were exploited with a cheap labor force and political corruption. Over the last 100 years, América had its’ hand in creating the chaos in Central América.
Raymond Ayón is a Writer and a retired Denver Police Detective. © Raymond Ayón.
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