So another election cycle has come and gone and again we find ourselves, the warriors for science, some of us the warriors for the working class, some of us the warriors for those without a voice; once again we wake up and find ourselves having fought on the side of Facts and losing to the side of lies and greed. Don’t feel sorry for yourselves yet because there are bullies that need to be fought.
We all awoke still in shock (well some of us were in shock) on November 9th, 2016, however there were those among us who were never asleep and have been wide awake to the reality of a Donald Trump Presidency this entire time. Two of my co-workers knew what this election would mean; one who was brought to this country from El Salvador as a child and now works under the protection program Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), another, an immigrant with a visa from Egypt. Their names are Jennifer and Omar.
They both speak English better than most. They both love this great country and everything it stands for. They both work to reach for the American dream that every other country once envied us for. That first day of the new Trump America I would look at them from across my cubicle and feel their pain, their fear, their concern. They both went about their 8-hour shift and handled their duties with poise and grace as you would expect from any American laborer.
Jennifer, now 23, working on the last semester of her AA at DMACC (which she received this December 2016) had to tell her younger sisters that going forward don’t answer the door if someone knocks and they don’t know who it is, ICE (immigration) can’t come into your home if you don’t open the door. She had to tell her mother and father, who are now divorced, the same information. They made plans in the event a family member was picked up and sent back to the longitude and latitude of the place of their birth. Jennifer works 3 jobs. She worked 2 jobs one full time and one part time and went to DMACC part time. Her smile lights up the darkest soul but that smile is few and far between these days. I hate bullies.
Omar and I, we would talk about how we all thought he was Latino and if Trump got elected and his visa got compromised to just hang out with us Latinos, we could pass him off as a Jose or Juan. We would laugh. We don’t laugh anymore. He’s engaged to a beautiful all American Blonde who is going to school at one of Iowa’s private colleges. Omar has a degree from the same college. We would talk about Harry potter and how excited he was to see snow in the winter. Omar now wonders if he will be able to marry his all-American girl and one day take their future kids to Diagon Alley in Orlando Florida. I haven’t spoken to Omar in a few months, he is no longer employed with us. I wonder what happens if one of his family members become ill in Egypt, can he risk flying home? I hate bullies.
To those who awoke on November 9th and were sad about the outcome; I remind you that there were those who awoke and were terrified, traumatized and devastated. There are many wrongs in this world but I can assure you that a girl brought to our country who now works three jobs, a young man who immigrated to our country with a visa in the hopes of finding the American dream, they are not the problem. They are the thread that makes our country a great magnificent tapestry.
If you happened to be among the five thousand plus people who attended the rally at Iowa state capital for “day without an immigrant,” each one of those people knows of someone who will be affected by the xenophobia which is working its way through Washington D.C. Everyone at the march knows full well what is at stake. I had a liberal friend ask me, “why did all these people not come to work?” What were they trying to say by making others people’s lives harder, no cooks, no dishwashers, no taco trucks? What could that prove?
I look at Omar’s cubicle. It’s now empty. One empty cubicle, then I look at Jen, I can picture her cubicle empty. I can picture each person out of the five thousand who marched no longer being here. So this is my answer to my liberal friend, we can’t see the forest for the trees. We marched because if one by one we get picked off over the course of a year you will not really feel the “loss.” If you take all of us out of the community at once you notice, you get a glimpse of some of the pain each person is experiencing by living in the shadows. They didn’t march because they wanted a day off. They marched because they hate bullies and bullies need to be stood up to. They, as a community stood up to all the xenophobia, the random Iowa Nice (sarcasm) drivers who would yell obscenities as we silently marched to the capital. We rallied and the chants of optimism washed over the crowd one by one as each protester noticed a single bald Eagle flying overhead.
I hate bullies and when those among us whose voices represent the most marginalized among us are willing to fight, I hope we have the audacity to follow their example. The arch of history would say yes. I am so ready to help write that chapter of history. I hope the rest of you are willing to stand and fight with us, because you can’t beat a bully by sitting down.