when i was in Washington DC briefly for the senate hearing of the Dream Act, i was interviewed by a girl for a local radio station. she asked me pretty standard questions— what’s your story, why is the Dream Act important, etc.
however, she threw me off a bit when she asked me if i blamed my parents for bringing me here. i shouldn’t have been so surprised, i hear politicians/the general public blame the parents of undocumented youth when they’re not blaming the youth themselves, but i’ve never been asked this so directly. i could count the number of times i’ve told my story or been interviewed about the Dream Act on one hand (yeah, it’s best to get Carla for that type of thing) and this wasn’t something i’ve ever been asked.
even if i was caught a bit off guard, without hesitation, i shook my head and answered honestly “no. i don’t blame my parents.”
i choked back a lump in my throat. i thought back to all those times in high school when i did blame my parents. i blamed them for not having a job (“they want me to focus on school”), for not having a license or state ID (“they don’t want me to”/”my dad uses the car for work all the time”/”they give me train/bus money”/”theres always that bike collecting dust in my garage”), even for going to UIC (“they want me to have no friends and live at home so they can control my life ugh so lame”).
i know this looks bad on my part, but let me explain. all my life, my parents have done everything they possibly could to make us feel normal. they brought us to a safe North Shore suburb, enrolled us in a private Catholic elementary school and eventually put us in an excellent public school district. when the struggles of being undocumented surfaced for us individually, my parents actually told us to blame them. because really, what’s more normal than teenagers blaming their parents for everything? it worked.
it was so easy.
i regret it everyday.
i felt like slapping myself everytime i used one of those false, sorry excuses for why i couldn’t do things my friends could. it was all such a lie. had things been different, i know my parents would have pulled me out of school to get my license on my 16th birthday, or spent summers searching for the right university for me. but things weren’t different, so what choice did i have? my parents were adamant that no one could find out about our situation, so i was to say anything to lull any suspicion. with the exception of my college counselor and family friends, no one in high school knew about my situation, and like hell i was going to let them find out, even if it meant blaming my parents for the most superficial of issues.
i wish i knew in high school what i know how. i see undocumented high schoolers coming out of the shadows, and i can’t help but feel a little ashamed that i couldn’t be that brave. why couldn’t i have educated myself? why did i take the easy, temporary way out of awkward situations and blame the two people who risked everything to give me the world?
questioning who i was and what i did/didn’t do/know back then isn’t important anymore. what’s important is my answer.
no. i don’t blame my parents. i do not blame the two people who sacrificed everything to bring my sisters & i into a country with an infinite amount of opportunities. i do not blame the two people who i inherit my stubbornness, sense of humor, or silly facial expressions from. i do not blame the man who gave me my love of music. i do not blame the woman who gave me my love of desserts. i do not blame the two people who work endless hours a week at jobs that don’t utilize even a teaspoon of their talent and abilities to ensure our education and comfort. i do not blame the two people who are just as much victims of this broken system as i am. i do not blame the two people in this world who have done nothing but love, support, and make me the individual i am today.