This is not my America by Azucena De La Torre

Sometimes, I wonder if the America I wake up in is the same one everyone else opens their eyes to in the morning. Now more than ever I am convinced our individualistic notions of patriotism are nuanced with subsets of identities that make it difficult, if not impossible, to keep our loyalties aligned. I’ll paint you a picture. I’m a first-generation college-graduate with an advanced degree, born to very working-class Mexican immigrants, which makes me “ni de aquí, ni de allá”. Meaning I am, “not truly from here, but neither from there”. A phrase fitting for those of us with names like mine. The kind of names that you can’t ever find in a souvenir shop. I am also currently the only person of color on staff in Catholic Campus Ministry at DePaul. Essentially, I am a Brown woman working within a white institution within an all-white staff. It’s like that movie “Inception” – but as a campus minister. It’s okay to laugh! This is a beautifully complicated vocation and I love it, all the way through.

A vast part of what inspires such love for this work is that it is in fact quite raw. I am gifted the opportunity to walk along real life with you and in a sense, keep a heartbeat on what matters most. We sift through the realities of life together as a faith community. We all carry within us the richness of varying cultures and paradigms that shade our worldview in a particular hue. I am highly suspect of any claims alluding to not seeing color. Quite the contrary, we are in desperate need of seeing more of our colors. No one wants to be invisible.  But that’s a different article for another day. Yet, I cannot shake this feeling that the America I experience is altogether differently oriented than those whose votes are won with feigned interest in causes poised with sleight of hand. 

The election season is oddly mesmerizing. Like a train wreck that holds your gaze. The whole world is watching. Further, there exists a paralyzing power of politics. Every conversation feels like a potential landmine rooted in unstable soil. We trip over ourselves trying to reconcile public policy with private morality. The truth is wildly simple; we will always come up short. I will try to give language to the malaise. The reason why politics are painful is because they are a culmination of real life. As you well know, real life is a mess. People nor politics are perfect. One reflects the other because it is the other. By now we have all cast our votes and come to terms with the fact that a candidate will hold office and steer the future of a nation already in mourning. We, as Americans are reckoning with death on all fronts. Hundreds of thousands have lost their lives due to inadequate action on behalf of a leader who swore on a Bible to uphold the well-being of a nation now rendered unrecognizable by overt hate and calculated indifference. Yet I would caution us to not blame him entirely. He only unearthed an evil already existing. Nothing but a mouthpiece for dormant disgrace. 

We are not without hope. America is waking up. Opening her eyes to things she claims she never saw. Truths she may have forgotten and a history that is fundamentally interwoven within atrocities we would rather unclaim. If your soul feels ill, please know for certain you are not alone. Our democracy has kissed Death. You are in collective mourning with the rest of us realizing this broken man has aborted the American Dream. Your discomfort is a sign that you cannot conceive of children in cages, women robbed of their wombs in detention centers, Black lives a common casualty, and a country dying for lack of care. This is not my America. I could only hope it is not yours either. Ours is a grieving over spiritual citizenship. We were never made to live this way yet this is the reality people and politics have crafted. I believe today all people of good conscience understand exactly what I mean when I say we are, “ni de aquí, ni de allá”.  But take courage, we reserve hope for the Resurrection of the dead. Even for our American Dream.