A Salvadoran Refugee Responds to the Election
My life as a Latina has been like the story of el burro. The tale says that a farmer had a burro, a donkey. He got to thinking that his donkey was no longer useful, so he figured he had to kill it. But it had been a good donkey, so the farmer didn’t have the heart to just shoot it in the head like all the other farmers had done. He came up with a kinder plan: he’d dig a deep hole, toss the donkey in and just bury it.
So the farmer dug the hole and shoved the donkey in. The animal struggled not to hurt its legs as it fell. When it hit bottom the farmer said, “Goodbye, donkey. I’m going to kill you now,” and he started shoveling dirt to bury the donkey alive. But the farmer couldn’t watch as he filled up the hole.
In fact, each time the farmer threw in a shovelful of dirt, the donkey would shake it off and stomp it down. The farmer would throw in some more dirt, and the donkey would repeat what it had done before. When the farmer ran out of dirt, he was startled to see that the donkey was standing right next to him, just as before.
That’s how we Latinos are: we are not going to let anyone bury us. We are human beings, we are useful, and we have a voice.
I like California because it is a place of acceptance, of compassion. That’s why it hurts to go out in the streets and feel the pain in the environment at this time. Americans have never given up. Why do they feel right now like they are under a dictatorship, when they still have their voice? They are protesting, but, sadly, many take out their frustrations on small businesses, which have nothing to do with this.
Americans know perfectly how their voices can be heard. And if they do feel broken down, it’s because they were not expecting that their system would fail them in this cruel way. We from Latin America come from broken systems that have thrown us down like that donkey. We will not leave simply because a man tries to intimidate us. No!
We are strong. We know that Californians, people from Oregon, Nevada, New York and other states also understand that we are all linked together, that we depend on one another. People know not to stereotype us as criminals. The only crime we have committed is trying to survive—and even the law recognizes your right to self-defense. The only thing that we Latinos have tried to do is to defend our lives and our dignity, and that of our children.
The people of this country don’t have to get buried, and Californians don’t have to feel broken down. Everyone wants to live in California since it has a great economy and Californians are people who accept others: they are people you can rely on. We as Latinos trust in you, that you won’t allow us to be driven out of this place—because you appreciate our labor and consider us human beings.