To My Mother

By Michael Quintanilla (Freshman at the Pratt Institute)

To my mother:

I’d like to begin by saying that I’m sorry. I have so much empathy for so many people, but the pain I feel for you weighs heavy on my mind and on my heart. I have a million things that I want to say to you, but I can’t. I can’t because every time I hear you try to be strong about all of this, a lump in my throat and a swell of tears is inevitable.

I have spent my entire life looking at you as the image of excellence. You have held steadfast through all the adversity that you’ve been faced with; I’ve watched you strive and fail and build yourself from the ground up. You have served as an inspiration for everything that I could ever want to be. You have always seemed like a super hero to me, like some unstoppable mass of power that no one could deter.

You have, to me, always been the image of a Mexican immigrant.

I was too young when I faced the reality of our America; I began to realize what our being here actually meant. I was so young and you were so kind to let me feel like I could always be a part of this community, but I have finally received the validation of the hatred of everything we are and it hurts so much. It hurts because you are everything they say you aren’t; you are hardworking, you are kind, you are respectable, and you are determined. It hurts because you, as a Mexican immigrant and a woman, are having your value as a human being questioned in front of the whole world, and yet you still find it in you to call me every day and try to mend my broken heart. I know you’re doing the same for all of my siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins who are scared for their very existence because you are the brave backbone of our family. You are the image of excellence that Trump’s America pretends you aren’t. You are the image of a Mexican immigrant. 

I hurt for everyone today. I hurt for my LGBTQ community, for our immigrant family members who are the noblest people I know, for our Muslim brothers and sisters, for the women, young and old, that I have the privilege of knowing, and for all of brown America. 

I hurt for you, mom, but thanks to you I know to smile through the hatred, spread positivity and wisdom, and fight for what’s right for as long as I  have to. I don’t know if I’ll ever be the same person I was on Tuesday morning, but you have made my world start to turn again despite the fear and sadness in both of our hearts.

Thank you. I love you.