Monday, May 4, 2009

Pura Vida

No matter how large or diverse the city is it has become my little corner of the world, and my world shrinks.

The back of my newly acquired t-shirt read Event Staff and I was sitting coffee in hand far too early on a Saturday morning checking in volunteers. We would spend the day at the service of the Central American Resource Center, CARECEN on Columbia Ave. in D.C.

I tried to take in the lobby of the center. It was painted brightly with a perfectly tiled floor, very fitting. The walls were covered with posters in Spanish and English advertising voter registration and other citizenship material. There was a framed poster saying "El Salvador, Remember!" Another with Archbishop Romero and children. One large frame contained hundreds of newspaper clippings, the only one I could read from my seat saying "No Human Being is Illegal."

This was not just a room, it was a center for a community of people fighting. Maybe if I change the word to struggling you'd get what you felt was a better sense of the issue. But I won't rescind, its a fight. Struggle to me points to some weakness on the part of the victim, there is no such thing here. Its a fight, not fair, but a fight.

Today has nothing to do with that. Today is just a day where people from the community stop by and help for a few hours, try their hand at painting, maybe move some old files around. Today is the contrasting calendar day to the rest of the 364.
This Saturday we are neighbors not statistics, we are friends not immigrants and natives. Not Cowboys and Indians. We are in a different place where even the freckled faced redhead guy is speaking Spanish. In one morning we get more grunt work done than the center could all year. There are thank yous, smiles, free t-shirts and beer.

By Monday will they remember their neighbor? Or will they become the people who see immigration as the immigrants problem and fail to see the decrepit rotting system as the source? I can't imagine its these people, not the people I came to know that morning, they can't be the opposition. But they are somewhere, out there, in my country, claiming it all for their own and living in fear of everything. Fighting with my friends. And I'll be damned.

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