It is said that Frida Khalo despised gringolandia, otherwise known as the United States. She was deeply discomforted by what she called the frivolous gringo culture, and passed most of her time in the country feeling isolated and unfulfilled.
Every year in early August, our mother would haul my siblings and me into our car in the stifling heat. The four of us would wait for hours in long lines at the international bridge, waiting to cross the border from Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua into El Paso.
We lived on the Mexican side of our sprawling binational metropolitan area and crossed often for groceries and shopping, so this was a standard routine for us. When our turn finally came, we would roll down the windows and sit up straight, knowing better than to speak out of turn.
Oftentimes, the strongest leaders on campus accomplish so much with little recognition, preferring humility over hubris. However, we here at The Statement believe in highlighting students creating change and making this university a better place. This class of Students of the Year have made incredible strides in diversity, acceptance and inclusivity. The students were recommended by other students on campus and selected by Statement staff for their dedication, accomplishments and positive attitudes.
I have a vivid memory of an old photograph — I am 5 years old. I am in the park across the street from my house in my school uniform, clutching in my hands two Barbie dolls and laughing. Behind me, the metal playground stands tall and barren, too hot to the touch under the heat of the afternoon desert sun. On the ground are sparse patches of yellowing grass, as if someone tried to make it grow but realized any attempt to shield it from the drought would be futile.
Whenever I realize I need a haircut, it always takes me a few days to get around to booking it. First, because I always have something to do and often forget, but also because it takes a certain amount of courage for me to decide that I want to go to a place where I will be expected to make small talk with a stranger.
I grew up in the arid valley where the moonlight was muffled by the smoke of thousands of coal-burning stoves. It was cold and scary at night and the day came, only to reveal the night’s crimes. Every morning, the newspaper delivered headlines of the number of people, my people, who didn’t make it through. Dozens every month. Hundreds every year. It was an eye for an eye among my people. The vicious cycle of death and suffering continued uninterrupted for years.