Last Monday I wore a white shirt. Camila wore a white onesie. Mika, for once, allowed me to chose her clothing and put on a white shirt as well. Mike’s shirt – white but with a large logo – set him apart from us, which was just as well as he was just there to provide support.
We didn’t get to the rally until the end, when it had basically wound down, but in the way to the rally, before we’d even left San Leandro, we saw many people wearing identical white shirts. We didn’t say anything to them as we passed, but my eyes filled with tears. Here, in silence and passing, we were a community.
I have lived in the US for 22 years now, almost a decade longer that I’ve lived in my home country, but here I have always been the “other”. This is a category in which I’ve put myself as much as anyone. I have a thick accent, of course, which makes it clear that I’m not from here. But the truth is that I’m not from here and I don’t want to be. I love this country, the land where my husband and children were born, and the ideals of political and religious freedom on which it was founded – but I love my own pago just as much. I am proud of being an Argentinian (which Argentinian isn’t?). I am, if anything, a hyphened American.
But “otherness” can be lonely. I often find myself searching for bonds with people from other countries, whose accents are as thick as mine, whose culture somewhat foreign to the mainstream. Though here in San Leandro, where the foreign born population approaches 30%, I am in the mainstream.
And yet, there was something so special about seeing all those people wearing those white shirts. Something special about wearing one myself and silently saying “we are one”, we are the other, but we are together as the other.
It saddens me that the immigration protests have not yet transcended their “hispanicness”. Immigrant activists and groups of other ethnicities have joined, but most non-hispanic immigrants have remained silent. Middle class immigrants are also mostly staying away. Which is sad because la uni