Being Mexican American surrounded by Trump Signs

Next week is our 2nd year anniversary living in Georgia.  I’ve had no regrets about the move. My blog is filled with words and photographs of my love for Georgia’s landscape and weather. From the very day we moved to Georgia we’ve felt welcomed and accepted.  I have to admit, before the move, I had little knowledge of The South. I was nervous about the cultural differences there might be, and if I would be accepted as a Hispanic or a northerner. I think our friends back in Chicago were nervous for us as well.  We often get asked by family and friends if he we have encountered any racism in our Atlanta suburb.  I explain to them the stereotype of The South being racist is not accurate, at least not in our town.  I had to explain to them that strangers would say hello to each other on the street, and I was invited to play dates by the second week of moving into town.  People were extremely polite and kind.

I had thought we found paradise.  I was excited for my children to say “yes ma’am” and enjoy a childhood where they would have the freedom to be outdoors year around.  If only I could stay living in that rose-colored world, but it is an election year, and my perfect suburb is not immune to the divide that the country is experiencing.

The contrast from living in a blue state to living in a red state is very visible now.  Being a Mexican American in a red state is an eye-opening experience. Mexicans were brought into the forefront of the political arena by Donald Trump during his presidential announcement speech when he said, When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

It was insulting to hear him call my parents and relatives that immigrated to the US rapist and criminals.  What is that you say? He said some are good people so that makes it ok. No. He said he “assumes” some are be good people. You see, to assume is to say you are guessing, you are really not sure.

My relatives are citizens now, thanks to Ronald Reagan’s Amnesty program, but I can’t deny our history.  I know they all came to work, and I know they are not drug dealers or rapists. I know most immigrants work in factories, agriculture, hotels, landscaping, housekeeping…not drug dealing. I know that although they may not become rich working in blue-collar jobs, they are giving their children a better life than they lived. I know, I don’t assume.  Trump did not have to walk in my shoes to know this.  It is statistically accurate. It is for that reason that I dislike Donald Trump. I can never support his use of racism to fuel his campaign. Over and over again he paints Mexicans as the enemy, and to me his name is synonymous to a hate symbol.  To discuss securing the border or enforcing immigration laws is what civil people do, but to name call and create an inaccurate portrayal of people that look like me is dangerous and irresponsible.

Currently, Trump signs could be found on front lawns in my Atlanta suburb. Trump bumper stickers are on cars, and people wear “Make America Great Again” hats. At first it made my heart break every time I saw a Trump sign. For the first time since I had moved here I felt unwanted.  I felt that these people must all agree with Trump, who said he could not trust a Mexican American judge because of his Mexican heritage and Mexican billionaire is conspiring with Hillary and the New York Times to create a sex scandal against him.  When in trouble he finds a Mexican to blame. Seeing the vast Trump support in Georgia I wondered if we made a mistake in moving here. Don’t get me wrong, I have to say that there are many other people in my suburb that feel like I do about Trump. It just seems that by the look of the lawn Trump signs we are outnumbered.

If I lived in Chicago,  I would most definitely write these Trump supporters off as crazy.   It is so easy to think of people as crazy if you don’t know them.  Now they were my neighbors and friends.  I could read their posts on Facebook, where they expressed their distrust in Hillary Clinton and their desire to protect their conservative values.  They are not voting for Trump. They are voting for the party. There are a few who truly do like Trump and insisted the media was to blame for my taking offense to Donald’s Trumps comments, as if it all his comments were not taped on video for all to replay, however, for the most part, as I heard Trump’s supporters reasons for supporting him I found out they care about taxes, the security of the country, gun laws, abortion laws, etc.  They did not like Trump for the racist things he said.  Those comments were just irrelevant to them.  It was something to accept or rationalize in order to protect something higher in their priority list. They don’t hate me, they hate Hillary. In fact they hate Hillary as much as I hate Trump.

Last week I was at my kid’s soccer game.  A man was wearing a Trump shirt.  I read his shirt and looked up and our eyes met. I looked away. I don’t know how that man feels about me, but I do know how the friends I’ve made feel about me.  They reach out to offer help if my kids are sick.  I see them tell their kids to stand up for other kids that get bullied. I see them do their best at parenting.  I no longer think we made a mistake in moving to this suburb of Atlanta.  I realize that it is important for me to be here.  Just like it would have been easy for me to call Trump supporters crazy if I lived in Chicago, it would be easy for Trump supporters to not care how Trump’s words affect me if they’ve never met anyone like me. I can’t defend some of the claims against Hillary and they can’t defend some of the claims against Trump. We have limited choices. We are forced to make the best choice for our family.  I needed to write this and be at peace.  I needed it to make sense to me. No matter who you support politically being able to look at issues through someone else’s eyes can bring a feeling of peace and calm.  I am now glad for this opportunity. My political stance is unchanged, but at least now I can respect the opposing views, and I hope that by being in Georgia I’ve helped someone else respect mine.

 

Time is Now

My sister had a great idea for our mother’s birthday this year.  She suggested we get our mom tickets to see Juan Gabriel, one of the most legendary composers and singers in Mexico.  She thought it would be great to coordinate with our cousins so that our aunts could join her.  It was going to be amazing.  Growing up my mom would play his music as we cleaned the house on Saturday mornings.  I remember singing along with her.  I currently have a Juan Gabriel Pandora station on my phone for those days I might want to go back to my childhood, and sing to the top of my lungs.

Sadly, my sister called me today to inform me that Juan Gabriel passed away.  Selfishly, at first, I was very upset that my mom would now never be able to see him.  His concert was scheduled for this fall. We should have bought her tickets last year!  Once I got over the fact that my mother’s surprise was ruined, I thought about what a great loss Juan Gabriel’s death is to the Latin American world.  His death, I am sure, feels like a personal loss to so many.  He has been making hit songs since the 70’s with “Querida” and “No Tengo Dinero”.  Since then he has composed hundreds of songs. A wiki page claimed he wrote over 900 songs for 300 artists.  I am not sure if that is accurate, but finding exact numbers is not possible. I tried. I guess we can say he wrote countless amount of songs.  His songs were remade to different genres, including Spanish Rock, bachata, salsa, banda, etc. He recently collaborated to sing, some of his most popular songs, with young artists. The music videos made of those duets gives me the chills.  His lyrics are gold.  His songs are timeless.

It was the kid’s bath time at home, but I just wanted to sing so I turned on my Pandora Juan Gabriel station.  I bathed the kids with the music in the background.  I told the kids that Juan Gabriel was an amazing artists, and that I would listen to him when I was a child. Why didn’t I do this sooner? Ugh! Time is passing by.  My kids don’t know about Juan Gabriel. They barely understand Spanish at all.  My mom will never see Juan Gabriel.  Time all of a sudden seems so precious. My sister said she would now be on the look out for tickets to other Mexican legends that are aging like Vicente Fernandez, Marco Antonio Solis and Joan Sebastian.  I promised myself to start putting on music and singing while I cleaned the house, instead of putting a Frozen DVD for my youngest so that I could clean more efficiently.

As I listened to his music, I came upon “Abrazame Muy Fuerte” (Hug Me Tightly).  It is a very emotional love song about time.  It was a very fitting song for how his death was making me realize time is NOW.

Spanish lyrics:  “Abrázame que el tiempo es malo y muy cruel amigo, abrázame que el tiempo es oro si tú estás conmigo, Abrázame fuerte, muy fuerte, más fuerte que nunca”.

English translation: “Hug me, that time is a bad and cruel friend, Hug me, that time is gold if you are with me, Hug me tightly, very tightly, more tightly than ever.”

We don’t have time, especially with kids, parents and aging legends.

 

We lost a legend. We missed our opportunity to see him in person, but his music will be forever.  From now on I will give more than just my love and attention to my kids. I will share who I am, what I listen to, what I like.  They should know who I am besides mommy. How else will they know what concert tickets to buy me?

May Juan Gabriel rest in peace.  He will live forever in our hearts and through his music.

 

Juan Gabriel Duet with Juanes

 

Here is a mesmerizing Juan Gabriel Duet with Natalia Lafourcade “Ya No Vivo Por Vivir”

 

Mana singing Juan Gabriel song “Hasta Que Te Conoci”

 

Selena singing a Juan Gabriel song “Costumbres”

 

 

Cafe de Olla – Mexican Spiced Coffee

The pumpkin spice latte in Starbucks is back. I am a big fan.  It taste like pumpkin pie and it is coffee. What is there not to love?  It is delicious, but apparently some people, according to the internet, are annoyed and baffled by the whole pumpkin spice obsession.  Well, if you are one of those people and are looking to do things a little different I have a great coffee option for you! Cafe de Olla, which literally means “coffee from the pot”, is a traditional Mexican coffee that uses cloves and cinnamon just like the pumpkin spice latte. It is traditionally made in a clay pot, hence the name, but being that I am 2nd generation Mexican I used a normal pot. It is made with the Mexican flavors of fall: cloves, cinnamon, piloncillo and orange peel. Mmmm…I can smell it as I type! Piloncillo is whole cane sugar. It is called panela in Colombia. You can find it in the Hispanic aisle by the bagged spices. You can use brown sugar as a substitute. I hope you enjoy this recipe. Maybe one day we will see Cafe de Olla at Starbucks!

I used 4 small pieces of piloncillo. Sometimes they are found in 4 inch cone shapes. Use 1 piece if you have the large cone piloncillo.
I used 4 small pieces of piloncillo. Sometimes they are found in 4 inch cone shapes. Use 1 piece if you have the large cone piloncillo.

Cafe de Olla: Makes 5 servings

5 cups of water

1/2 cup  ground coffee (I used instant ground coffee Nescafé)

1 cinnamon stick

4 cloves

1/2 peel of orange (more if you prefer)

4 oz piloncillo  (1/2 cup of brown sugar can be used as a substitute)

milk or cream if you don’t like black coffee

  1. Bring 4 cups of water to boil in a saucepan (or olla if you have one).
  2. Lower the heat and add coffee, piloncillo, cinnamon sticks, cloves and orange peel. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and add 1 cup of cold water. Strain before serving and enjoy! No need to add sugar, but you may add milk or cream if you like.
Cafe de Olla- Mexican Spiced Coffee
Cafe de Olla- Mexican Spiced Coffee

I want to thank those who have sent me messages after they made one of the recipes. It makes me SO HAPPY!

Finally, I will blog!

I have dreamed of this moment since the day I read The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. Inspired by the book, I started writing in a journal at the age of 15 and wondered if one day my journal would be read by others worldwide. Fast forward to my mid 30s, and now we have the internet where I don’t have to be famous or important to share my experiences and thoughts with the world. The only thing that was holding me back was time. You see, I am a mother of a 4 year old boy and an almost 3 old girl.  There are many blogger moms, we have so much material to work with, and the thought of blogging has been on my mind since I started sharing my funny, warm or frustrating moments on Facebook.  I have wanted to share more and join all the blogger moms but during nap time, also known as “mommy break time” I gave priority to cleaning my house, exercising and watching Dr. Phil. My dreams of becoming a blogger, creating a business plan or starting a recipe book were just dreams.  Well, today my youngest started attending an early childhood center a few days a week and the Dr. Phil new fall season has still not started so here I am finally starting my blog! I would like to thank friends that have put up with my long Facebook posts and the people that have encouraged me to start a blog.

This blog is about me, a first generation Mexican American who grew up in South Chicago and now lives in a suburb of Atlanta. I am mother of two with an awesome husband who grew up in Miami. My husband and I both have humble beginnings in big cities and we are now raising our kids in a different world in which we were raised. It is a new world of beauty, peace, safety, pools, soccer, karate, joggers, play dates, stay at home moms…it is also a world where we are far from family and the cultural experience that was so rich in our childhood is now absent in our children’s childhood. Money can’t buy it and I can’t duplicate. I am only one person, I am not a village.  Join me on my family adventure in the suburbs! Parenting, cooking, suburb life and maybe even some politics will be my subjects of choice.  Much of it is universal, some of it will be my take on trying to fuse my present world with my upbringing, giving my children the best of both worlds.