Keepin' It Real

Drawing Lines, Forming Borders

Hello Afro Puff Chronicles, my name is Mariana Benitez Arreola. I am a Mexican-American female from Eastside San Jose in California. I am currently a senior at William C. Overfelt high school in California.

These two pieces were inspired by my experience of living in a lower-income area of San Jose, in which the majority of people are minorities and are greatly affected by immigration. My neighborhood is often misjudged and has false pretences. Due to its reputation as a lower-income community, a lot of stereotypes are used against the individuals that are apart of the community. These skewed views cause a divide which is why San Jose is a very segregated city. These two pieces give insight into what I, as well as many others, experience in my neighborhood, as well as the struggles of what it means to have immigrated to America.

Life as a Minority in Two Sections

ghet·to

/ˈɡedō/

noun

  1. a part of a city, especially a slum area, occupied by a minority group or groups.
  2. put in or restrict to an isolated or segregated area or group.

My home is a beautiful ghetto. “Ghetto” is a reference to the oppression of my people, but it is a term that I now what I consider to be home. Rich culture surrounds my home. Languages bounce off the neighborhood streets as children see each other as nothing other than equal. The bubble of a segregated yet happy community. The “unsafety” that others see is not there, the “unsafety” is our rebellion against an unfair system. 

Police sirens echo throughout the neighborhood; they are the enemy. We are taught to not trust authority because we live in a system not built for us. Only money can help us feel safe around authority and that is something we don’t possess. The tragedy is that kids suffer the most since their brains are innocent and must learn the stresses of life from a young age. It becomes common for them to smell whiskey on their father’s breath and see their mom’s bruises that are never spoken of. The blood on the sidewalk can be from only two things: a nose bleed or a drive-by shooting. They understand that walking to school poses the risk of catcalling. Code red is a daily occurrence and does not phase them.  

Ten minutes away from my home there are Caucasian families who have clean-cut grass and have never smelled the musk scent of Mary Jane. Their kids have been granted opportunities that I can only dream of having. I can only imagine the wealth and love accumulated in the homes of these individuals. Loving parents who come home from work early because they don’t have a second job. 

They fear people like us. We desire their fruitful life. They pity us. We desire their financial ability. We are just ten minutes away, yet our lives couldn’t be more disparate.

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bor·der

[ˈbôrdər]

NOUN

borders (plural noun)

  1. a line separating two political or geographical areas, especially countries.
  2. the edge or boundary of something, or the part near it.

Borders are segregation. Borders are destroying families. Borders impede me from reaching my aspirations. Borders are a part of life… but more often for those with an “illegal” status. 

The complexity of the word trickles down the tongue of any immigrant. The heavy accents begin to softly stutter and mouth the rights they do not have. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”, that all men are created equal, that all men are created equal… This hope is what causes the immigrants to stay motivated, but in the end, the truth is not all men are created equal. They cross literal borders to put themselves in a system filled with more injustice. They sacrifice everything to be neglected by the American government. Wars, violence, drugs, financial crisis, natural disasters; are all great examples of why they had to cross borders. Shouting “go back to your country” across the room is an insult that resonates within the ears of even those who were born here. The beautiful bounce and rhythm of languages may be too much for sensitive ears; it can insight violence. The violence. The violence and threats cause fear. The fear. The fear of deportation. The fear of being sent back to the dangerous situation of which you have just departed. This was all caused by the concept of borders. Borders are a part of life. Borders are destroying families. Borders impede me from reaching my aspirations. Borders should be broken down. 

Hello! My name is Tyler Newman and I'm a magical creature.

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