On Saturday, I found myself crying in the produce aisle of the grocery store, trying to hide my wet eyes from the Pooh.
Trump had just issued his executive order to ban travelers from five Muslim countries from entering the U.S.. In a unprecedented move, even travelers with green cards were prohibited entry.
Although the orders of the previous few days had upset me, I was overwhelmed by the implications of this newest order. As a Mexican immigrant to this country, I felt shaken to my core.
This was not the America I knew.
As I took care of this mundane task of grocery shopping in Stop-N-Shop for my family, I moved as if I were in a dream. I chose a crown of broccoli and picked up a bag of russet potatoes, and answered questions from the Pooh automatically.
But I wept silently as I moved from one bright, orderly aisle to the next.
I cried for the people who suddenly found themselves detained in holding rooms in airports, prevented from returning to their jobs or going to their dream universities. I wept for the people who found themselves separated from parents and children and spouses in the U.S. I cried for the little kids who were separated from their mommies for hours, and the elderly who had no access to their medications.
I cried for the refugees who had been through years of rigorous vetting, only to have the America’s door cruelly slammed in their faces, with death likely to greet them upon their return.
Most of all, I cried for my country.
The shame and grief I felt ran through me like a sickly stew, dripping into my heart and stomach. I had always believed in America as a beacon of hope and a welcoming home to all, particularly those in search of a better life. American represented a promise of freedom and opportunity for all.
That shining promise was broken with the stroke of a demagogue’s pen.
As I walked through Stop-N-Shop that night, I looked at my surroundings with new eyes. I noticed the abundance and freshness of the produce and other products on the shelves. I marveled at my feeling of safety as I walked through the store with the Pooh. I realized that I was lucky to have enough money in my purse to buy the food we needed, and maybe a treat or two. We could shop in a store that was clean and well-lit, with other shoppers and staff as pleasant company.
I thought once again of the refugees and other people detained in airports, and was overwhelmed once again by my own good fortune, and the terrible fortune of other human beings at that very moment.
I imprinted the picture and sounds and smells of my shopping trip in my memory, a snapshot in time. This moment, this quiet, unremarkable trip to the grocery store, marked the end to the America I once knew.
I dried my eyes as I approached the checkout line.
I decided that I would allow myself to cry when I needed to (I am a sensitive soul, after all), but more importantly, I will allow myself to fight for the America I know and love, and for the America I want to leave for my daughter.
I refuse to give in to despair.
I refuse to roll over and give in to the dark, fearful forces of this new administration.
I am just one person, but I will speak out. I will call and write and petition my elected representatives. I will vote. I will volunteer and donate and contribute.
I will not accept this angry, harsh version of America.
I will FIGHT for the open, tolerant America I know truly exists.
I WILL #RESIST.