I Beg of You: VOTE! Se Los Ruego: ?íVOTA!
If you see your friend's Mami or Papi, ask them, "Hey, going my way? Wanna go vote? What time you wanna go?"
Guadalupe Gonzalez, Contributing Writer
Today, as we all know, is Election Day. I no longer listen to the radio or watch cable. Although I have a degree in Political Science and am an attorney, I cannot deal with all of this mishegoss* anymore. No more trees killed to show me how great "fulano de tal" is. No more talking heads, talking over one another, their point of view better than the rest. And, what we have left is, apparently a 50/50 split. With Latinos the "Golden Ticket." (Borrowed from the late Roald Dahl's, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.")
Published on LatinoLA: November 6, 2012
The "Golden Ticket", in the movie and the book, was a highly sought after, much-desired prize, which allowed the bearer entry into the Factory. But it was not a sweatshop. No, it was a fantasy land of flowing chocolate rivers, lovely multi-colored candies, every dream a chubette-little girl like me could ever dream. Only one catch, the winner had to be altruistic, good of heart, loving of spirit and hopeful for the factory. That was Charlie, poor beyond belief. But with dreams of spun sugar and caramelos.
I write to you tonight, Mi Gente, weary of spirit, fearful of the future, my feet throb and my eyes are filled with tears, ready to spill over. The tears are for a friend, one of my professors at LMU, who had the sweetest smile and a tremendous sense of humor. He lived life LARGE in the Latino community. And he died in August, after an illness that had him confined to a hospital for months. He did not deserve that. He was young, too young for Diosito to have called for him. With each hour that passes, the reality becomes more intense. He is gone. Nowhere to be found in this world.
Mi Papi, dead almost three years ago this Christmas, is still a tremendous void in my life. Last night, I fell, as I was watering my front yard. It was late. I stepped in the mud and slid. I am sure I looked hilarious. I just felt stupid and clumsy and old. I dragged myself up, hearing in my head, "Ay, mijita, como te cayiste..." And there was no one there.
My husband had successful surgery last week. I adore his surgeon. This, hopefully, should be the last of the four surgeries. But he remains in the hospital. And I am alone with my perritos. I visit my husband in the hospital where he spent six weeks in CCU, and I am terrified, just to smell the place. It is a beautiful, newly renovated place, with people and smiling faces. And all I remember is the fear and the dread. Diosito me lo regreso. I should see un arco iris everywhere I look.
And, finally, I received a call from a friend. Her polling place, which for years had been two blocks from anybody's house, is now twenty minutes away. Why would this happen, she asked? We used to be a neighborhood of parents and all the kids, and used to walk to the polling place, remember? The phone calls, "What time you going? Wanna go for dinner after?", "Gonna do my homework fast, so I can go vote!" or, "[i]Mi Papi]/i] wants us all to go together before breakfast." Like George Lopez says, "''member?"
As each one of us in the family came of age to vote, my Papi would have "the talk" with the kids, who were kids no longer. Not "the birds and the bees talk", but the serious "ya puedes votar" talk. My father, so proud of all of us, so proud that we could vote. And we did, all of us. In the polling-place garage, as we trooped in, a runrun began, "Ay vienen los Gonzalez..." There came a day when we needed two cars to get there. No!!! Not because we had all put on weight, but because there were now three generations voting.
Three because mi Papi and mi Mami became citizens, too. They had heard rumors that one had to spit on the flag of the country of one's birth, and step on it. After being disabused of this scurrilous old viejita's tale, they happily took the class and passed. They knew more about politics than I did. And I had a degree in that! All the children and grandchildren took the day off (Okay, I snuck away), to see them sworn in as U.S. Citizens. My Mami, with a corsage, my Papi in his traje, looking all Ricardo Montalban-ish (without "Tatu"). We celebrated by going to mi Papi's favorite Chinese restaurant. (I was still MIA from work.)
So, what up with the polling place? I told my friend: THEY DO NOT WANT US TO VOTE. The families that once lived there are now a sole parent, children moved away, mamis and papis with no transportation. Ohhhh, my friend said. That was their PLAN? Yup. There are people who want to deny us our rights. The rights Rosa Park fought for. My Mami grew up in Houston. She, unknowing about Jim Crow laws, went and sat in the back of the bus. Immediately, a ruckus broke out. "Oh, no Miss. WE SIT IN THE FRONT. THAT'S FOR THEM NEGROES!" My Mami went home and asked her aunt, "What's going on here?" Her aunt told her.
I went to Houston for one of my husband's surgeries. An African-American man would enter the elevator, and I would greet him. "Doin' just fine, Ma'am. Just fine." And his eyes would turn downward once more. I came back and told mi Mami, I do not see how you could stand it there. It is awful.
And that is how it starts. Keep your eyes down. Wait ten hours to vote. Get the wrong date through the mail for "Election Day." Tell you, Mi Gente, La Migra will be watching. LET THEM WATCH. WE ARE HERE, FAIR AND SQUARE. They are the evil ones. We want the golden ticket. We demand our rights. No more hat in hand for us.
Acuerdense de Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta and Robert Kennedy at his side. Remember the hunger strikes. Think of Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King. Then think of las metirotas (the really big lies) we have been hearing. Think of the wars we should never have gone into. Think of los pobrecitos muchachos y muchachas, gone. Returned in body bags, in bits and pieces. Or traumatized forever. Their youth taken from them by a bunch of viejos vendidos. Listos para tomar mas.
Voten. Se los ruego. And if you see your friend's Mami or Papi, or think to call them up, call them and say, "Hey, going my way? Wanna go vote? What time you wanna go? Lunch after?" Because we "''member.'" And we will never forget. NUNCA. SI SE PUEDE.
*Mishegoss: Yiddish: Crazy or Senseless Activity
Guadalupe Gonzalez, Contributing Writer:
Proud Latina-Americana, Orgullosa de Mi Mama y Papa Que Nos Dieron el Honor de Ser de Dos Culturas,Y De Tener el Poder en Nuestras Manos