”Dear Dad”

“Terrible things are happening outside. At any time of night and day, poor helpless people are being dragged out of their homes. Families are torn apart; men, women, and children are separated. Children come home from school to find their parents have disappeared.”

-Anne Frank

We are repeating history, it’s that simple.

I want to share this letter written by the youngest brother of a friend. Tom is the youngest of six children, with three children of his own.

Dear Dad

They’re deporting, caging and now killing Mexicans. I know how that sounds, but it’s sadly come to this. So much has happened to this country in the years since you died just seven years ago. Or maybe I should say a lot hasn’t changed as much as you thought and hoped it had.

After years of progressive advances, the pendulum swung back hard in what I hope is the last gasp of state-sponsored racism, anti-science, and isolationism. We elected a president that found an enthusiastic audience in the worst of us and a silent complacency with many others on the side of that right pendulum swing. He originally announced his candidacy with a racist speech against Mexican immigrants. Apparently, it worked. Unfortunately, there were other factors at work that helped him get the votes of some decent people that most assuredly now realize it was a mistake. That’s what we’re knee-deep in now.

White supremacy has come back out of the closet and reared its ugly head with public demonstrations and mass shootings. The shootings have taken the lives of every race and religion, but this week a young man drove hundreds of miles to specifically target Mexicans, and he shot and killed over 20 innocent people in El Paso.

Racism didn’t start with our new president, but he’s vilified Hispanics, Muslims and black people from “shit hole countries” as he put it and has made it a regular tool against immigration. These immigrants aren’t the only targets of this hate, but brown and other people of color seem to be the “go-to.” His supporters argue that it’s not racism but just a desire to enforce the laws against illegal immigration. But curiously they don’t seem quite as passionate about other laws.

I’d like to believe they’d feel different if they had an “illegal” immigrant for a friend or partner or work colleague or dad— maybe if they knew what it really takes for most to become a US citizen, how expensive or how many years if it’s even possible at all, maybe if they knew what it is like to experience oppression, danger and poverty daily with the best foreseeable option being to risk their family’s lives to journey to the US and try for a chance to work for a little slice of the American Dream. 

Like you did for us. 

You changed the course of our family’s lives forever when you crossed the Rio with your pregnant mama. What an amazing and heroic woman grandma was. 

I haven’t lost hope on this country. In fact I believe this is the darkness before the light. I believe we will continue moving forward and not go back again. There are some new faces in government that are showing courage, and there will be more. We will work hard to assure that. Hate will lose, and this country will be greater than before. Great for all and not just some. 

You and grandma gave us the American Dream. 

I wish you could have met my wife. You would have loved her and your new granddaughter, Frani Ray.

Thank you, Dad. 

Hiciste de este país un lugar mejor.