Every time I hear comments like those Republican Governor Mike Pence said, with a certain disgust and classism, during the vice presidential debate on October 4th, referring to “that Mexican thing” after his Democratic opponent Tim Kaine brought up a topic, I try to not immediately think of myself. But, as a Mexican, it is really difficult not to feel insulted given the circumstances.
Well, I could react as I did, thinking of a series of beautiful and meaningful “bad words, Mexican style” that could be used against Trumpism and all those who support the Republican presidential candidate’s ideas, including Pence and others. Although, it’s true that some are not guilty of being such bad seeds, and it’s not my style to resort to insults.
I could also react in a way that, let’s say, is “more educated or intellectual” and try to understand the modern-day American psyche when it comes to racism. A racism that a campaign sustained by fanatics, demagogues, and xenophobes is trying to mainstream in contemporary society.
However, I prefer to think about the millions of people, past and present, who sacrificed all – and when I say all, I mean all – to come to this “land of opportunity,” giving this country the best of their lives and, at the same time, providing this nation the opportunity to reinvent itself once again, just as it has it done for all of history.
But instead of recognizing the sacrifices – military, economic, social, cultural, demographic, linguistic, and otherwise – that these millions of immigrants have made throughout the United States’ history, or at least demonstrating a basic level of humanity and acceptance, we, immigrants, are considered to be “a thing. Just a “thing” that can be used in a debate to continue the demonization, cultural idiocy and obvious insulting of a community such as the Mexican community.
Pence, like Trump, has shown the despicable true essence of a racist who wants to win the White House, with the goal of imposing his vision of a country that, much to his lament, changed a long time ago. It seems their xenophobia doesn’t let them see more than one color.
Even so, as an immigrant who will vote for this first time as a citizen, under the rights bestowed upon me by the U.S. Constitution, I am convinced that we Mexicans – and in general naturalized citizens from any country of origin – are more than “a thing”: we are a vote.
And November is closer than ever. That is the good news.
David Torres is a Spanish-language Advisor at America’s Voice and America’s Voice Education Fund.