Archive for May, 2014

Yesterday I attended Seattle’s May Day March. Unlike the march I wrote about in 2010, there were many non-Latinos fighting for immigrant rights and fair pay for all.photo (1)

MAY DAY 2010

“Obama escucha! Estamos en la lucha!” the crowd chants and I chant along, imploring President Obama to listen up and take our fight seriously. It’s May Day 2010 and I’m in Seattle marching down Jackson Street surrounded by a sea of Mexicans with Guatemalans, Hondurans, and Nicaraguans scattered among them. Only a handful of other non-Latinos, like me, have shown up to march.

A half-hour earlier, I asked my husband to drop me off at Judkins Park, so I could join what I assumed would be a small group of protesters demonstrating against Arizona’s new anti- immigration laws. But a great swell of people is already flowing westward down Jackson Street by the time I arrived and it grows larger by the minute as people with strollers and signs and Mexican flags funnel in from the side streets. photo (3)From 23rd clear down to Eighth Avenue in the International District, masses of people are marching in solidarity. Banners identifying home states in Mexico are held high and with evident pride. Zacatecas, Oaxaca, Guerrero, Michoacán. For nearly everyone there, English is clearly a second language.

A boy marching next to me, maybe eight or nine years old and wearing a Mexican soccer jersey, stares as I march along, chanting in Spanish.

“Why does she talk like us?” I hear him ask his father.

Porque ella teine el corazón de una Mexicana, I want to tell him. It’s what my friend Gracia once told someone in the Mexican alley where I live part-time when they asked why I always side with the Mexicans on immigration issues.

I strike up conversations with the people around me as we march along. A young man from Zacatecas proudly shows me his I.D. card from the King County Parks Department. He tells me he, too, crossed the border illegally but eventually managed, through great effort, to obtain a green card and a job as a gardener for the county.

photo (2)“I can’t believe how many Americans have come out to march!” he says, pointing to the three or four white people visible in the crowd of marchers.

“Americans are brown-skinned too,” I remind him, thinking not only of the many Latino-Americans living in Seattle but also of my daughter and her friends who are Asians, Pacific Islanders, Ethiopians, and African-Americans. He nods and chuckles at my increasingly truthful statement. The one some Americans are loath to acknowledge.

    “Un pueblo unido, jamás sera vencido” he chants the phrase slowly so I can catch hold of it.

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