Hello, my name is Mónica Isela Sais de Águilar. I was born to Susano Águilar, Jr. de Villalon and Antonia Águilar de Alba. I am first generation American on my mother's side and 5th generation American on my dad's. My parents tried really hard to make sure we grew up with the best that they could provide and looking back now, through no direct fault of their own, we were sheltered. Not the kind of sheltered you think, however, sheltered from exploring who we really were. Don't get me wrong, spanish was and still is my first language, but that is the extent of it. My daddy worked outside the home and my mommy was a stay at home mother, she was responsible for our activities, school enrollment, etc. This all from a woman who knew absolutely no English and had a second grade education from a poverty striken country. How she managed to always have us in vacation bible school, arts and crafts at the local community center, enroll us in school, Dr's appts, soccer, is a mystery. You name it and we did it. The desire my parents, but probably more so my mom, had for their children to have more than they had spilled over immensely into the way they raised us. It wasn't until just this past week in talking with her that I think I really got it. We were talking about her upbringing and what it was like for her growing up hearing about this place called "América", and how she was told about this idea of true possibility, the idea that she would be considered fair, the idea that her life could be different, that the life of her children who weren't even on the horizon could have this place that appeared so dreamy and at their finger tips, it was a tangiblity that she needed.
A 25 year old Mexican woman with a burning desire to learn braved her own river wild and attempted to live out her predestined future. My mother was unsuccessful once at crossing the Rio Grande River, but a champion of never giving up. She was sent back immediately and returned later with falsified documents stating that she was an American, the shear idea that she was now "Rosa Muñoz", didn't matter because she was about to fulfill her destiny.
The details about how her and my father met, how she later naturalized and how us three girls were thought up is for a later time. My mom and dad, again probably more so my mom since her influence and time was the majority, reared us based on what they knew. My mother knew that America was full of beautiful white people who lived in clean homes, drove pretty cars, had jobs that paid money to pay for all the luxury in life. My mother made sure to influence us to make the right choices when making friends. I can actually remember a time when my sisters and I sat around talking about the fact that mommy's great great grandchildren would never believe that she was a "wetback" from Mexico, because neither of us had Mexican friends and we sure as hell weren't gonna marry anyone Mexican, gross!!! I would marry a fabulous white man, my children would marry fabulous white people and so forth, and before long my mother and Mexico would no longer exist. The irony of who we are now is laughable, needless to say we all chose Mexican men to marry, but our mentality back them was ignorant and still astonishes me. The root of that thinking lingered in me through adolescence. Even in college I would reference my childhood for choices that I needed to make regarding the people I let be part of my life. It isn't until more recently that I desire the companionship of a girlfriend that might have the same story as me, someone who will share laughter when we remember the cultural differences we had growing up with those around us, someone who I can drive around blaring cumbias with on my radio, someone who just gets it. It isn't enough to have it with my husband, I desire more.
My name is Monica Isela Sais de Águilar, and I am a recovering racist of my own people.
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