Often I find myself writing about struggle when I talk about my Mexican-American identity, and my immigrant parents. I am immediately reminded of the anger and grief I felt when I left Mexico after having spent 4 years of my life there. I am tempted to speak about the language barriers I experienced when I started Kindergarten in New York, and the struggles my parents continue to face. My mother’s Spanish is unwelcomed, my father’s broken English is misunderstood, and the Mexican culture is very often rejected.
Unfortunately, when I think about immigration and my family, I think of divisions - North America vs. South America, Mexican vs. American, Welcomed vs. Unwelcomed. But, immigration also means unity despite the ongoing xenophobia in the U.S. I see unity in the affinity groups at BHSECQ and events like International Night, which celebrate the diversity in the school. I see unity in the resources and support offered to undocumented students at BHSECQ. I see unity in the integration of an American Immigration course in our school curriculum. I see unity in the different shades of green on the shirts of BHSECQ students to express their solidarity with undocumented folks.
Yet, much work remains to be done. I envision a place where no individual feels the need to choose between two cultures. I envision a country where children are not separated from their families and individuals are not treated like prey. I dream of a society where no individual is stripped of their unalienable rights, and they are treated with human decency and respect regardless of where they come from.
However, this cannot be attained until all countries work together. I envision other countries creating a trustworthy and efficient government, a strong economy where no individual is subject to inequality and discrimination, and a supportive and uplifting society where individuals do not have to flee to save their lives, and live in the shadows in a country that mistreats them as well. Only then, can we achieve unity.
Nicole Mendez '21 (BHSEC Queens)
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