“Hey Mexican, are you going to be sitting on your lazy ass tomorrow too?”
I stared sadly at the two smiling children at the gentleman’s side. In front of me was yet another generation of ignorance and racism.
“What’s the matter beaner? No hablo Englishy?”
I caught myself smiling with a tilted head at the two children. They had grabbed their father’s arm and were having a good time. It was a good Sunday for them. Maybe their toothless father was taking out his aggression on someone else. I’ll be the whipping boy kids.
Don’t get me wrong. I’d like nothing more than to grab him by his sweat-stained sleeveless shirt, throw him into a wall, pound his chewing tobacco can against his head like a yo-yo, pull him around the parking lot by his sideburns and yank all of his eyelashes out. Then I remember that I’m a grown man who has learned that conflict shouldn’t be dealt with violence. That, and for some reason, I didn’t want to do anything to upset the kids. Probably two children who will make similar comments to me someday, but still, they were proud of their father. How often do they have that?
Tomorrow is being dubbed “A Day Without Immigrants.” Countless immigrants will stay home from work, close their stores and not spend any plata. This is being done in a move of solidarity to show the economic importance and economic power of imigrantes. Latino, Asian and African leaders have all come together to make a point.
I have heard the discussions in mi barrio and many of my vecinos are staying home from work tomorrow. This is one of the first times in their lives when they can taste freedom. They can actually taste it. Many of them believe this will make American policy-makers say, “Oh wow, they do make a difference!” I want them to have their smiles, so I stay silent.
Do I think that tomorrow will make a difference? No. I don’t. Tomorrow alone will not make a difference, BUT, it will make a point. Will some people lose their jobs tomorrow for not coming to work? Probably. But they’re making a point. After a while, after many points have been made, then people will start to listen.
Will there be a backlash? Maybe. Working USA vs. Immigrants. Maybe I worry too much, but as I stare at man spouting obscenities at me while his children look on, I realize that I really don’t. I’m afraid that many of the American policy-makers are only one college degree removed from this man. That and many of them have a silver spoon in their pocket. Not all, but many.
Then I remember. What would this world be like if people were afraid of repercussions? What would this world be like if people were afraid of standing up and saying, “I’m a human being! Treat me like one. Let me earn a living. I am not a criminal. Let me give my family a better life.”
I’m not a fan of this boycott, but it is the act of a people who are tired of being pushed up against the wall. I’m sure all of us have family members, hundreds of years ago maybe, who were pushed up against a wall. A wall of some kind. A wall because of their color, a wall because of their accent, a wall because of their religious beliefs. We all have a wall in our past.
I will not stand against a wall.