If you were born here, you don’t really have an idea what that means
The accident of the place you were born doesn’t leave you much choice…you are born there and that is that. But in the migrations and the political upheavals people have to move around. Some even do it seeking financial improvements and that is not looked upon as noble as one who comes to America searching for freedom and to embrace the principles which this country was founded.
My parents brought me to America as a fourteen year old. I didn’t have much a say in that either. As I adapted and became familiar with the culture; I became impressed with the noble purpose of the creation of America by the Founding Fathers. The idea of equality, participatory democracy and the pursuit of happiness was to me an awesome concept.
I was also very admiring of the fact that this is a nation of laws. Anarchy to me was much too fresh in my young mind as I saw my country deteriorate and the fabric of society crumble. I was experiencing in America the total opposite of my homeland and I liked it.
Unlike my peers who had not experienced any hardships due to politics gone wrong; I had that fire in my belly to participate, to become informed and to become an American. I even began to volunteer in Los Angeles for the campaign to elect Barry Goldwater President. At the time I still had a blindfold over my eyes as to the motivations and the underlying ideology of the Republican Party. I did notice that as a Latino I just didn’t see very many of my Hispanic brothers in the Republican Party. I noticed too that there were very few blacks. I found it suspect but because I was under the impression that the Republicans were staunch anti-communists I would be more at home there.
I was so much a hawk, a warmonger that I was in favor of the Vietnam War. Although I must admit I couldn’t understand why the U.S. would fight that war and tolerate a communist regime 90 miles from its shores. The “domino theory” that was the talking point then would also apply to Cuba, would it not? And it did…Cuba got itself involved in every imaginable conflict in Latin America and even obtained some limited success in Nicaragua and El Salvador while creating a headache for Latin American governments from the Mexican border to Patagonia…and giving America a veritable pain in the ass; some of the dominoes did fall.
It wasn’t until I was in my second year of college that I began to question some of my set of beliefs and American politics in general. On a personal level I noticed that no matter what I did, how well I did it and how hard I worked I was still not respected. Those just deserts never would come my way.
Kent State happened and I was horrified at the thought that American students would actually be murdered by the military while exercising their right of free speech. It started to become clear that the Viet Nam war was immoral and that we were there not for the reasons that our government claimed. By the same token; I was kind of irritated by those who would label us “hippie-communists”, traitors and unpatriotic because we opposed the Vietnam War.
I graduated from college and then it hit me like a ton of bricks. As long as I was cleaning floors, waiting on tables and even cleaning bedpans at a hospital; some Americans, a lot of them actually, had no beef with me; but the minute that I began to compete in the marketplace, entered the job market and tried to get ahead that is when I met all kinds of glass ceilings. No, I am not going to go into details because I would need four or five pages to enumerate all the instances I was discriminated. But curiously, all those situations for some reason or another always involved a recalcitrant Republican who didn’t give a hill of beans about me and what I could contribute to his company. I felt as if the Statue of Liberty had been hit by lightning.