Tengan Miedo, Mucho Miedo
Fear and disgust colors United Nations' "Day of the Girl"
Guadalupe Gonzalez, Contributing Writer
Mi Papi used to tell me that he waited two hours before calling his parents to tell them he and mi Mami had a baby girl. Me. And he used to follow that by the look on his face as he said, "Que tonteria, verdad, Lupita?" As he sat on his deathbed in the hospital, as he was being prepped for his last procedure, we talked. I told him, "Papi, you and Mama made me the woman that I am. You taught me well. You gave me a tremendous education. I am the woman I am because of you." By this time, I was crying. I held his hands and said, "Papi, I owe you my life. I owe you everything." And that was the last we spoke, as he did not regain consciousness.
Published on LatinoLA: October 12, 2012
That ambitious but simple man from Mexico, with a third grade education, gave me the world. He had yearned for an education, a profession. But I see now, mi Papi merits so much more than that. He deserves my respect, my honoring his blessed memory, my eternal love. He gave me the same power and rights and self respect as anyone. He and my Mami gave all five of their daughters, and their son, a love of family, friends, country and culture. They taught us that we all were special and should demand respect and justice in each of our paths and lives.
Yesterday was the United Nation's Day of the Girl. Dedicated to promoting the rights of young girls and women. Engendering in all the desire and realization that, they, too, are entitled to respect, educations and the ability to move forward and upward in their careers. But, in these United States, advanced as we are reputed to be, there are people who want to take away the rights of women and girls. There is a state representative in Georgia--not Georgia in Russia--Georgia here, who compared women to "farm animals." That man's name is Terry England. He has an office in Atlanta, Georgia. Feel free to Google him, and then call and let him know how that sits with you.
Abuelitos e Abuelitas, Mamis y Papis, Ninas y Mujeres, Hermanos y Hermanas--Now is not the time to sit back and think things are going to be "Okay." Because they already are most definitely not okay. What kind of a world do we live in, where a man who has been elected, has the gall to stand up in public, on the record, to say women are like farm animals? I pity his Mother, his wife (Cindy), his administrative assistant and any other woman who knows this man. Where is his mind? And, more importantly, where is his corazón y alma? Does he have them?
In Pakistan, a few days ago, a man boarded a school bus that carried girls to their school. After identifying one of the girls, Malala Yousafzai, he shot her in the head and neck. He also injured another girl. Malala now lies in a hospital in Pakistan, fighting for her young, budding life. She is fourteen years old, Mi Gente. Mulala committed the "evil sin" of writing a blog on the Internet, called "Diary of a Pakistani Schoolgirl." Some men did not like that. And they have apparently sworn to try to take her life if she survives this horrendous assault.
Tonight, I watched as film of Mulala was played. A young girl, her face looking out from her veil, she spoke of her dreams of becoming a doctor, in order to help others. More recent film showed her speaking of her thoughts of entering politics in her country. She felt that she could have more of an impact in that manner.
I looked at her, and thought of myself at that age. Naive, crooked teeth, trencitas. Reading books about girls and women in other states and countries, learning as much as I could. And thinking I could change the world. Thinking that I could and would make a difference. As it turns out, I did not change the world. But I tried to make the world around me a better place. A place where people were not run through the court mill and treated like they were in a slaughterhouse. A place where I could touch lives and make them better. A place where justice and truth ruled, and people's voices were heard.
I look back and think, I touched many lives. One day, I was entering the courthouse, all atontada and with coffee in hand, tote bag hanging off my arm. I heard a man's voice saying, "There she is!" I was afraid, because I knew that "she" was me. So I hung out at security for a moment. That is when a large man and his very petite lady friend came up to me.
"He was so upset that you were not in court yet," the lady said. I apologized and said that I was sorry that I did not remember his name right away. I asked him to remind me who he was. The man said, "You were against me in court. And everything is working out okay." The lady interjected, "He wanted me to meet you because he said you treated him like a human being. You were a good person." I almost cried, because everyone deserves respect and to be treated well. They left, happily talking with one another, as they walked into the sunlight. They did not know it, but they made me happy for a long time. I smile, still, now as I write.
Mi Gente, Preparense. Prepare to vote and to make certain that our rights, our children's and grandchildren's rights are protected. Remember, we vote not only for a President, but for the decisions about our lives that they will make. The judges they will appoint, who will sit in their courts for decades after their appointment. The Senators who questioned Supreme Court Justices Sonya Sotomayor and Elena Kagan did not want them. Remember how they interrogated Justice Sotomayor about how she mentioned "a wise Latina" in one of her opinions? What? Those showboating dudes in the Senate could not deal with the concept of "a wise Latina."
Just like many judges and commissioners could not deal with a Latina attorney who fought them. Me. Maybe they thought I was uppity. I will never know. And, I do not care now and did not care then. I stood up for what I thought was right and just.
Por favor, Mi Gente. I beg you. Open your eyes and be ready to vote. Because if you think our lives have become miserable now, just wait. You must act. We must ALL act and vote. Or our rights will be erased, tossed to the ground, stepped on and trampled until they are a distant memory. Do it for those who come after us. We owe that to them.
And give your hijitas e hijitos a kiss. Let them know they can be anything. And they can do anything in this life. And con el favor de Dios, si se va a poder.
Guadalupe Gonzalez, Contributing Writer:
Hija de mis Padres, Proud Latina and Los Angeles Attorney