Mom, Use Your Voice till You’re Blue in the Face.

We live in a beautiful country which blesses us each day with the liberties that many around the world do not have. I am aware that the very fact that I am working on a higher degree or even writing this article is a privilege. I owe my freedoms to the many brave people who have not only fought on battlefields, but also to those who have marched against the waves of the majority.

To all the warriors— armed forces or social justice— I salute you.

Just as we must recognize the progress in our country, we must also recognize the deep-seeded ignorance which continues to surface despite the movement of the tides.

November 8, 2016 was the turning-point of our country’s narrative.

The outcome of this previous presidential election confirmed all my fears. 62,984,825 people voted for a candidate which fueled an entire campaign off of hate, misogyny, xenophobia, and ignorance. 62,984,825 people voted for a candidate who was publicly endorsed by the KKK. 62,984,825 people voted for a candidate who speaks of women in the most disgusting manner. 62,984,825 people voted for a candidate that dreams of building walls and has tried to ban Muslims. 62,984,825 people turned a blind eye to all of this and were just simply “ok” with it.

Since then, many have stood up against this new era. 

Over three million people made history by marching in the largest post-inaugural protest back in January, and many have already signed up for the March for Science in Washington D.C on April 22nd.

 I have seen videos of more and more people, or should I say heroes, who have stood up against racial discrimination on subways, schools, and the streets.

The outcries and our awareness for justice continues.

Unfortunately, the voices on each side have amplified. A new air of entitlement and a different kind of privilege has flamed the tongues of many ignorant individuals. We hear about these hate crimes or racist encounters constantly, be it through social media, the news, or even word of mouth; but never do we imagine that our loved ones, or our ourselves, might be the next targets.

My mother is my everything.

This past Thursday I called my mom, like I do after classes, hoping to carry out our normal, fun conversations about our day, but I knew something was wrong.

She wasn’t herself.

Her voice sounded meek and broken.

It only took a few seconds for me to notice and immediately ask her what was wrong.

“Oh, you know, the same thing with that woman,” she answered.

I knew what she was talking about. I felt my heart instantly sink and then start beating harder; the blood rushed to my arms and fists. “WHAT?! But I thought Human Resources was going to do something about it,” I said.

My mother works as an Aseptic Technician for the local hospital back home, meaning she is the one who sterilizes the operation rooms after surgeries— an enormous responsibility, considering the immaculate conditions needed to open up a living body. My mother also happens to be a Latina immigrant, who is fluent in English, but despite being in this country for over 20 years, has a little bit of an accent when she speaks.

 A woman at work has been harassing my mother, saying discriminating comments like, “This is America, speak English. I hope you have a green card, because I can get you deported,” and the ever so original, “Well, if you don’t like it, get out of our country.”

 I’m sure you’re wondering what sparked this woman’s disdain towards my mother.

Her crime: speaking Spanish to her Latino co-workers.

These encounters have been growing more frequent, and to my mother’s frustration, not much has been done by her superiors or management to help defuse the problem.

Human Resources assured my mother that they had handled it, but no disciplinary action has been taken on the woman, and if anything she has continued to harass my mother with greater gusto.

When she tried switching her hours to a different shift, my mother’s supervisor reprimanded her, saying, “Why can’t you just get along?”

My mother felt defeated. She told me she had cried all day, feeling powerless, and like no one had her back.

  That’s when the mama bear in me kicked in. I reminded her that no one has the right to make her feel powerless, or shameful of her roots and background. No one has the right to harass her, or go out of their way to ruin her day.

 I reminded her that she had done nothing wrong by being herself or speaking her native language.

Lastly and most importantly, I reminded her that she has a voice and should continue to use it until she is blue in the face.

Raise awareness. Don’t keep quiet.

There are worker’s unions for a reason. There are newspapers for a reason. There are lawyers for a reason. Continue to knock on Human Resources’ door. Ask your coworkers to have your back.

My message to you and her is: don’t ever let it go. Don’t let it just happen.