By now the world has had 24+ hours to see news coverage of an orange politician’s recent rally in Albuquerque.
You’ve seen all the footage of “protestors” throwing rocks and police in riot gear.
I had to wait a day to get a grip on my reactions to write this.
Many people have some romanticized ideal of New Mexico as some spiritual tourist trap. The cute local people with our “rural” ways of life. The artsy-fartsy images of Taos and Santa Fe. The “exotic” spicy food. The opportunity to see the Third World without leaving America. The surreal desert landscape. The ruins of ancient civilizations. The Wild West.
Ya know what? I
fucking live here. And I have for most of my life. It’s a real place. With real people. Real human beings who just want a chance to live, to be seen as real human beings. Real human beings who are more than just decorations for your vacation. We aren’t paid to dress up like the costumed actors at Disney Land.
New Mexico is a poor state. Year after year we are rated the most, or second most (Mississippi is often close) economically disadvantaged state. Children go to bed hungry here. There are vast stretches of our land where there is no water, no phone or internet, no electricity. It’s a place used to test nuclear weapons and mine uranium and leave heaps of contaminated sand behind. It’s the space west of west Texas, under the thumb of Big Oil and Defense Contractors. It’s a place soaked in the blood of conquest, colonialism, and ethnic cleansing.
You have to be blind to miss the obvious legacies of generations of systemic injustice here.
We have the heroin over-dose capital of the world. We have unbelievable high rates of gender based violence and child abuse. We have families torn apart by inhumane immigration policies.
I live in a school district where more than 90% of the children qualify or free lunch. There are children in my town who eat ten meals a weak – breakfast and lunch at school. And little to nothing else. I’ve lost track of how many people have told me they started huffing glue in elementary school to numb the pangs of hunger and emotional neglect.
I live here. Every.Single.Day. I raise my family here. I’m not part of some select artist colony in the mountains. I’m a 32y’o single-mother and full time student. It’s not a vacation, not a spiritual retreat, not a fashion fad for me. It’s my home. Mine and about 2 million other people’s. We live here. We work here. We give birth here. We feed our children here. We love here. We die here.
My readers know this, that I despise all violence. I am so, so sad to see thousands of peaceful protestors played on the media as violent thugs because a few people threw some rocks.
But I also know just exactly what the conditions and emotions are that led to that rock throwing.
I’m not, can’t, and won’t defend the few violent outbursts. But I also cannot condemn the righteous anger of people who have had enough, who have suffered enough, who will suffer more if this country doesn’t pull it’s head out of
its ass the sand.
Would you be angry if some orange goon showed up and bashed your way of life? How about if it was your friends and neighbors and family and loved ones in the cross-hairs of a bigot’s fear mongering about immigration? You’re children’s friends who would be left hungry?
Have you had your fifth grader come home in tears because his friend’s family got deported? I have.
Despite all of this New Mexico is one of the friendliest and most welcoming places you will ever go. The vast majority of us hold ideals of tolerance and peace very close to our hearts. We are a multicultural, multilingual, interfaith people here. We welcome refugees and migrants. We celebrate our diverse communities. We’ve been a non-Hispanic white minority state for years. The bigotry and divisiveness of the orange thug are directly contrary to our values and lives.
And we have a sense of humor and dignity. We make art our of anything. We may have no water and little besides sun and sand, twisted rock formations and dramatic temperature swings. But we do have green chili. And humor. And even if we do end up on the Mexico side of the new border wall you can’t take those away from us. You can paint us as violent, uncivilized thugs who aren’t “real” Americans. But if you can’t handle the heat, don’t come and point fingers.