This is a sponsored post written on behalf of Jarritos. All opinions are my own.
If you know me, then you know how excited the following ad called The Journey by Jarritos must have made me when it first came out a few days ago. I don’t honestly remember when I first learned about it, but I do know that as soon as I saw it the video really touched me. Not only because of the overall theme that rejects human labels, which I totally agree with, but also because personally I can relate 100 percent to the stories of the individuals featured in this beautiful production.
As you know, my story is one of immigration.
My family has always kind of been split in a way. Not 100 percent American. And not 100 percent Mexican either. And yet 100 percent both at the same time. If that makes any sense, jajaja! It does, if you’ve grown up the same way I have.
The first memories of my childhood reside in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Hot, sandy summers, surrounded by my brothers and sisters, playing in the dark open yard in the evenings with my father, teasing my aunt when her and my uncle would come to visit, walking to bring home drinking water from a nearby well with my mother, and even playing with livestock that we considered more domesticated animals than slaughter.
There are also other memories, though, when I think back to those days.
My dad working extra long days, being underpaid because he was undocumented. My mother cleaning our white neighbors homes and getting paid $15 in cash because she did not have “papeles” either. I didn’t know what those papers meant then, but I did know that because we didn’t have them, every time the green and white migra trucks would drive by we either had to hide or pretend our parents and elder sisters were not home. They didn’t have the legal authority to be here, according to the law, and I guess you could say they were illegal.
In the decades between then and now, I have made a conscious decision to reject the word illegal to describe any person. I don’t believe any human being is illegal regardless of his or her status in any nation.
But back then, we believed it. We understood that our place in this country was in the shadows. That our rights were not the same as those who had not crossed the rivers and the deserts to get here. And even though I myself had never done either of those things, and was actually a citizen of the United States by birth, I still believed it too, for a very long time.
That self-awareness loomed in my subconscious all of the time, for a very long time.
I would question myself when praised by others, especially if those others did not look and sound like me. Of course they were just trying to be nice to me. Of course they were just trying to make me feel more confident in myself. Of course they saw me as different as not as good as them. When I got older and worked my way into jobs that people thought were great opportunities for someone as young as myself, I still carried that feeling of inferiority with me.
I’d stay quiet as much as possible. My goal was always to stay under the radar, and when called upon all I could do was muster enough courage to say something perfectly nice and almost subservient. “Yes, of course.” “You’re right.” “I understand.” “Thank you.”
It was all I could do to not rock the boat. To not out myself as different. To not ruin the opportunity I had been granted that I believed I should have been so grateful for. So grateful I was perfectly content to work longer and harder than anyone else to keep.
This was my mentality for a long time, and it took a lot of living to finally come to the conclusion that I, just like my parents and my family, had as much right as anyone else to be here in this country and to take advantage of any and every opportunity that came my way. And no, not just that landed at my feet, but that I worked my ___ off to earn!
It was a wake up call at some point in my life. One that I now try my best to share with others who find themselves in this same predicament. Yes, I am the child of immigrant parents.
But am I illegal in any way? Absolutely not!
Because of this belief. Because I value human dignity above all else, I encourage you to watch and share The Journey video as well! I encourage you to share this message and encourage anyone feeling ashamed or embarrassed because of labels used to describe them to stand up and reject the words that others try to use against us.
This is a nation of immigrants, and we all deserve rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!