This is me attempting to be positive. Update: it’s hard.
I’m trying to rep my culture these days. I’m trying to undo all that was lost to assimilation and show some real love to my people. Part of that included drawing some sports’ guys and the response was seriously one of my highlights of the year. I even got to be on Spanish radio here in Toronto! I made some new connections and friends who may, more than likely, be relatives—hola prima!
I’m wrapping up the year by starting a new tradition of honouring the mighty mujeres that inspired me this year. There are many women I love; from Selena to Selena Gomez and my little sister and Serena Williams. I will draw you all eventually.
2015 was all about Jennicet Gutiérrez and Sophie Cruz taking on immigration reform.
You should remember Jennicet Gutiérrez as the trans Latinx activist who rightfully disrupted president Obama’s speech at the white house pride event in June. She demanded the release of LGBTQ migrants from detention centres across the US. Many LGBTQ “leaders” in the crowd booed her and the president told her to leave.
With all the privilege I have as a documented person in Canada, I have made the choice over and over to hide. Sometimes it was self-care, other times it was complacency. I don’t believe people like Jennicet have that choice. There are about 300 people detained every night and put into detention centres all across the US. 75 of those people are trans. Fusion did a story this year about the horrible treatment they face in custody.
I tried and failed to get an approximate count on how many people are in detention centres today (We have these in Canada too.) All I could find were statistics from 2008 that had the number around 30,000. According to homeland security, there are 34,000 beds available but they are not required to be filled…which I obviously don’t believe, especially since most of these places are known for overcrowding. There are stories and more stories about these centres. People can be held indefinitely, without trial and eventually sent back to the countries they were fleeing.
Maybe you saw Sophie Cruz and thought her parents put her up to it—to get the pope’s attention. Maybe you don’t see how the pope is even relevant to your life. The point is that Sophie is 5 years old and already fighting. Sophie is 5 and already unable to fully enjoy a childhood because the fear in her home and community is palpable.
I can’t imagine any Latinx living in the world today not being able to relate to the struggle of migrants; we’ve all left or been left. We are all more than likely to know someone without “papers”, without the “permission” to exist and in constant danger of getting caught, and sent back to beautiful landscapes depleted of resources and hope by the same people denying you a second chance.
This didn’t end up sounding as positive as I had intended. Know that I am better because of these women; they help me heal and continue the work of telling mine and your story.