There was a song that I vaguely remember from my childhood and School House Rock Days. It is titled, The Great American Melting Pot.
This song, though missing a colorful representation of African Americans and Native Americans, was the premise of which American culture was shaped and formed in some sense. There were no immigration papers, and it was an open policy for all who could merely arrive here by boat. I used to unnerve my brother when I would awake every morning and sing the National Anthem (let’s leave out the historical context of the reason this song was written; I desire to stay in my euphoric state for this blog). On Friday, a colleague shared that he had officially become an American citizen. Considering the demographic I serve, as a technologist and corporate motivator, I asked his permission to share his photo and his story. So…enjoy my colleague Armando in our Q & A.
ME: Armando, on March 29, you became an American Citizen, this is a fantastic journey. How long have you been in the US? Where are you from originally?
A: I have been in the US for almost 25 years. I’m originally from Mexico City.
ME: When and why did you come to America?
A: I came in September 1993 as a child. My father died in 1990, and my mother did not have any formal education. During this time the government started privatizing many factories because of NAFTA’s new regulations. My mother lost her job in the same year, and she had no other option but to immigrate to the US.
ME: What opportunities do you have in the US that were not available in Mexico?
A: One of the opportunities I did not have in Mexico was an education. After losing her job, my mother was not able to keep paying for both my brother’s and my education.
ME: Not looking for a right or wrong viewpoint, but what do you see as major cultural differences in the US vs. your home of origin?
A: I want to say a major change was the language. For me, it took me a few years to start communicating and adapting to American culture. Other than language, I noticed that in the United States, Americans spend more time in their profession, so much so that in some cases, work is first and second is family. Children are often raised more independently and are encouraged to be independent of their family.
ME: Do you think you will take your skills to your country origin in the future?
A. I don’t see my future back in Mexico. I have my family here, and I don’t see my wife and kids moving to Mexico.
ME: Some people frown on immigrants who are not “legalized” citizens. With Congress being inactive or slow on DACA, what do you recommend for DACA recipients who are here of many ethnicities and countries, and they’re striving for US citizenship?
A: To all DACA recipients, I want to share my personal story. After graduating from high school, I did not have many options to continue my education since I was undocumented. My only options were work in a factory like the rest of my family or go back to Mexico and try to continue my education, but neither of these two options was an alternative for me.
I wanted to go to college and pursue a higher education. I decided to attend my community college, and while attending college, I worked in a restaurant to be able to pay for my education and help my family. After four years I earned two Associate’s Degrees: one in Computer Science and the second in Arts. It was not an easy accomplishment. In 2010 I was able to fix my immigration status and started working in my field.
ME: You are graduating from college with your degree in Information Technology and have become a US Citizen in the same year, what does this mean for you and your family?
A: After fixing my immigration status I was able to go back to finish my BA. During this long journey with many sacrifices, I never lost faith in my dreams. With the support of my wife and my community, in fall of 2018, I will be finishing my BA in Computer Network Security.
This year also gave me the chance to accomplish another dream–becoming a US Citizen finally. This means so much to me. Now I want to keep helping my community and many other dreamers.
I want to thank Armando for allowing me to share his truly inspiriational story. It is one of many and we hope and pray, there are more to come.
Armando is a technologist for a major educational institution in Chicago, IL.
I received a call from a former coworker who works for someone what we both used to work with at another company. She has seen his comments about President Obama and is fearful for her job because she doesn’t want to say anything to him about his post, yet she’s discouraged. She’s of Mexican descent. `He’s her boss, he’s white, and a Trump supporter. I let her know I see the same post, not only from him but, from people I attended a professional development training session with from February to October of this year. I encouraged her to stay optimistic, open up a safe dialogue, and don’t cut off your nose to spite your face. Meaning, keep your job and if you’re that uncomfortable find a new one.
This is the reality that we, as people of color, face every day under every president. I know and have experienced what it’s like to sit in meetings and accused of being the “Angry Black Man” while my white counterparts can throw profanity and yell across the table and its considered “how we conduct business.” I know what it’s like to experience people bypassing your position to go directly to your white boss because they don’t respect your intelligence, drive, commitment, or vision. I know what it’s like to be working and getting along with doctors in a hospital and delivering A+ service until one asks what college you attended and you tell them zero. You are treated differently. Everything you do is judged and scrutinized. But as my boss said to him, “If Tony says it can’t be done that way and he has an alternative solution then I’m going with his alternative recommendation.” I know what it’s like for my boss to be superseded for supporting me. We both laughed when something was implemented by an outside consultant for $7K, and I could have had it done in less time with a $200 investment. That’s what we’re used to. You’d rather spend money than trust what you deemed uneducated. My path in life was only different, and I’m in school now chasing what I’ll never find, a place of acceptance.
After sharing my experience with her I told her, she has a unique opportunity to get his views, opinions, and thoughts but at the end of the day, he’s a white executive and has a level of privilege and access that we will never have. It’s just the way America is, and it was built.
I also know what it’s like to be supported by whites. The civil rights movement wouldn’t have survived without our white brothers and sisters who were called “Nigger Lovers.” Our lives are linked to theirs, and for those that realized this, it was their sad duty, as James Rebb, to be murdered for supporting his black brother. I know what it’s like to be a non-degreed professional and given the opportunity to rise to the occasion. I know what it’s like to be hugged by men like Gary DeVore at Camp Rosenthal during the most painful experiences of my childhood. I know what it’s like to have keys and access codes to bank accounts and home to fix technology issues while my doctors were serving patients. It wasn’t because they had nothing to lose, it’s because they trusted me with their children, their homes, and their money.
I live in an America that can break hearts and mend souls. I live in an America where I know no politician is perfect because they are human just like me and I am not perfect. I have no issues with President-Elect Trump. He is who he is. He’s a marketing genius who just pulled off the biggest advertisement in American History. His genius has overtones of sexism, misogyny, racism, bigotry, and hatred. It’s not President-Elect Trump people are hurt or upset with; it’s those that support him. It’s those that scream “Hilary is a Bitch” at his rallies. It’s those that shout “Obama is a Nigger” at his rallies. It’s those that assaulted a young black woman at a Trump rally while thousands cheered. It’s those who’s children chant “Build a wall” in a school with undocumented Latino children. It’s those that line up with a man who is openly supported by the Ku Klux Klan. It’s those who say they are called to touch, move, and inspire, yet line up with an individual who has insulted veterans, women, the disabled, countries, and people. It’s those that snatch off hijabs from our Muslim daughters. It’s those that scribble on walls, “send those black fuckers back to Africa.” This is our disappointment in the humanity of a nation that would choose to support such a presidency. We missed an opportunity for change with Bernie Sanders; we missed and opportunity of hope with Hilary Clinton, but we missed and opportunity of love and acceptance, not by President-Elect Trump, but by those who support what he stands for today.
Open the dialogue, have the conversation in a peaceful manner. Hate will never trump love. Evil will never trump hope. Violence will never trump peace. Racism will never trump unity. Good luck President-Elect Trump, my prayers are with you in your decision making. The next four years will be the Celebrity Apprentice Live, 24/7. Grab your coffee, sip your beer, enjoy the ride! After all, this is the Republic for which we stand!