Duality rather than bi-nism… as I prepare for the family trip this Christmas, a series of familiar emotions and memories began to get triggered. Going back home; is different each time and that is just the nature of our lives given that we live in biculturalism – living in the United States while we embrace our heritage and culture also the fact that statically most of the continent speaks Spanish and English is the second language. All of the sudden something hit me and changed completely how I really feel about going back home. Anais will be spending her very first Navidad in my home town; Moyotepec, Morelos (Google it!). If you are able to locate the town’s rodeo arena and the elementary school; in the middle of the two is where yours truly spend a very memorable childhood.
These days I can afford to say that I have lived a split life; my first 19 years in Mexico and the last 15 in the U. S. of A. This trip is starting to have the feeling of a deeper more personal struggle than I would have expected. As I began to remember my childhood Christmas time in order for me to paint a picture to my wife and child; I also noticed something very personal that I had not pointed out myself before. The fact that even in my childhood my life was already being shape by how “immigration” laws are enacted or not. As a little kid when anyone asked me what my dad did for a living my response was always the same: esta en el norte.
My dad lives in the north was my standard response for as long as I can remember, in all honesty I don’t remember if I ever asked my dad what he did when was in “el norte”. I know that by the time I was in high school I had better idea of what my dad did in the USA – he worked from farm fields in Texas and Georgia to meat packing in Nebraska and South Dakota to finally arrive to work in the canning companies of the Midwest; Iowa first and then Minnesota.
My dad will be parting from MN to Mexico 12 hours later than me and we’ll meet in Morelos at my niece’s 7th birthday party. I asked him what made him make the decision to travel north (along I-35) and establishing in Owatonna to say the least. He said that he began to understand that there was already a labor wedge and/or capacity deficit among immigrant workers: English. As an immigrant worker in the 80’s & 90’s the more English you knew the better; fast forward to now and we are seen the opposite, where the use of Spanish is so welcome and encourage. Businesses with Spanish speaking labor; you hear the music in the background. The times have changed my father said and for better or worse a full on comprehensive immigration reform still seems so far away.
As part of our plan for our family in preparation to adapting as Bicultural-parents to raise our daughter we have conversations about what is to be encourage and what its to be limited given our current volatile racial equity environment in the nation. We also did the process to get Anais her Mexican citizenship, we wanted her to enter the country as a Mexican and when she enters back she will be a US Citizen. This constant switch On or Off gets tiring and it came to me that the best approach we can do for our little family is begin to see our journey as one of a Cultural, Language and Citizenship Duality.