I am UNDOCUMENTED. UNAPOLOGETIC. UNAFRAID.
By Rosa Vasquez (Harvard College Undergraduate)
On November 9th, I woke up in a country that I love and cherish that told me it didn’t love me back. I woke up in a country that just 24 hours ago I had complete and utter faith in that betrayed me. 59 million people made the conscious decision to vote for hate speech, to vote for bigotry, to vote for racism and sexism and I still cannot stomach that.
As an undocumented woman of color I feel terrified, I feel targeted, I feel unsafe. As much as I want to remain optimistic, I feel the optimism draining from my body with every step I take. There are so many uncertainties in my life right now. What will happen to my family? What will happen to my siblings if my parents and family members are deported? And beyond that What will happen to millions of families across this country? Will DACA stay alive? How does one function when every single part of your brain is screaming at you that you are in danger? The good thing about uncertainty is that it pushes me.
The night of the election as it became clear that love was not enough, my inbox was flooded with messages from peers, family members, family friends, community members from back home. Many of these messages came from a place of disbelief, they couldn’t understand how this had happened and as the night went on these messages took on a tone of hysteria and fear. I wish I could say that I was able to remain strong and support my friends (many of whom are also undocumented) who reached out from a place of uncertainty for some stability and encouraging words, but that is not the case. In many instances had to stop responding because I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what to say to the 60 year old custodian who has been here for 40 years and has 4 children. I didn’t know what to say to the 15 year old high school sophomore who is afraid of not being able to go to college and is afraid of having her parents deported. I didn’t even know what to say to my brother and sister. How do you explain to people that the country that they consider their home wants them out? How do you express to the young women you mentor that sexism is still a very present barrier? How do you tel your undocumented peers to remain strong and vigilant when fear is crippling you and destroying you from the inside out. That night I mourned. I mourned for my faith I this country, I mourned for the progress that could have been, but most of all I mourned the feeling of safety and belonging that is fleeing people of color across this country.
Just because I am afraid doesn’t mean I will be silenced. I refuse to succumb to let this fear paralyze me instead I choose to let it fuel my anger and determination. I am UNDOCUMENTED. UNAPOLOGETIC. UNAFRAID. And no one can change that. I don’t need
that everything will be okay because the reality is that this president has promised to ensure the opposite of that, what I need is a community that is willing to fight with me. A community that is willing to denounce bigotry, racism, sexism, and xenophobia and stand for what is right. Yes, I agree, Love trumps hate but unfortunately some of us cannot afford 4 years of love because our whole lives are on the verge of being destroyed, so we are choosing to find comfort and stability in love while allowing our anger to fuel our activism and non-conformity. Now is the time for action, it is the time to push institutions to protect the vulnerable communities. It is the time to push your peers and families to question these institutions that sometimes aid the systematic oppression of communities of color.
As for myself, I am starting with the community I cherish the most at the moment, Harvard. I refuse to let this election compromise my home, so I am working with a coalition of students and faculty to push Harvard to implement protections for its undocumented community (tinyurl.com/protectundocumentedstudents) Allow your fear to empower, not overwhelm you.
On November 9th I woke up with a knot in my throat that wouldn’t go away, but I also woke up with an unyielding determination to fight back. I am choosing to fight for the country I love and cherish