Thursday, October 16, 2014

Reflecting on Privilege

As a U.S born citizen I was born with many privileges. For one, I was not considered an "illegal" I am able to walk the streets without fear of being stopped by the police in regards to my immigration status (I mean I could be stopped for other reasons but then again I am a light skinned, female identified girl and that in its own way is a privilege. I am less likely to be stopped than a male identified Black or Brown individual). I could attend school and it would not be denied to me because after all it is my right, my right as a citizen of the U.S. I could leave the country, visit my sister who currently lives in Honduras, I could reenter the country with no problem. I remember growing up my mami  whom I love dearly would tell me "when you are in school you say you are an American, you are a U.S Citizen, say it with pride" I was never taught to reject my citizenship, my country. In elementary school when I talked with classmates they would ask me "where are you from" and I naively would reply "I am from here, I am American" the other Latino kids would laugh and say "no only White people are American" and they would go on and share their own identified nationalities/culture/heritage. Eight year olds would proudly say " I am Dominican" "I am Puerto Rican" "I am Mexican" "I am Dominican and Puerto Rican". I think that was around the time my own beliefs of identifying as American began to be challenged.

I remember returning home from school and asking my mami where she was born  and if she was also born in the U.S. My mom explained she was born in Honduras and that is where her nationality is. I then began to ask her questions as to why I couldn't simply say I was Hondurian if she was from there and I came from her. At the time I could not understand it was my mothers way of protecting me from the daily injustices and struggles she overcame simply because she was an undocumented person living in the United States. She didn't want me to harbor hate or resentment towards the so called land of opportunity. Now don't get me wrong I think I have been privileged to obtain an education, despite how shitty was the public education I received it was still an education. I am thankful to have had teachers while in H.S who truly believed in me and encouraged me to attend college. I am thankful I was able to obtain a degree in Sociology and Women and Gender Studies and I am especially thankful during my time in my undergrad I connected with professors who have molded me and guided me into who I want to be. Professors that until this day I am blessed to keep in contact with. However, I still cannot help but feel resentment towards my own country and how it continues to marginalize my people in this so called "post racial America".

 I can't seem to understand how students and at that students of color are walking into these thousands and thousands of dollars in debt just to obtain an education that should be free. Then I also think about how undocumented students who have lived here for most of their lives and even to those who have not and want to obtain an higher education are limited simply because they 1. they are not welcomed here. 2. because they don't have a piece of paper stating they can reside here.

This is why we need have conversations on reproductive justice, because ones legal status in this country is an RJ issue, one access to education is an RJ issue, ones feelings of safety within their community is an RJ issue, loan debt on college tuition is an RJ issue!!!!