21 March 2017

Feature: Word From the US

Of Strikes and Personal Battles

I watched V for Vendetta again the other day and was horrified at how similar some of the scenes felt. Apathy really does allow for the restriction of freedom, slowly but surely, doesn’t it? It was International Women’s Day last week, and part of the different actions that have been cropping up since the election and inauguration of Trump, March 8th was also declared a day of strike by the Women’s March team in the US. And assuming that not every woman would be able to just take the day off, they also proposed other actions that women could do to show support (wear red, not shop or only shop at women-owned businesses, donate to Planned Parenthood etc). As a freelancer I was able to strike, I just moved projects around and figured it out. My other half and I also didn’t work on the Day Without Immigrants that was held in February. We both believe that we, as immigrants, and me and our girls, as women, deserve to have equal rights. We also believe that every human being deserves equal rights. Sounds pretty simple, no? Apparently not because we are still fighting for it.

I was a little horrified to read so much backlash about the women’s strike, and a lot of it from women themselves. Some saying that only the privileged could afford to take the day off of work (I doubt they had any idea of what striking really means), or that, even better, we had equal rights so what were we complaining about? I also saw a lot of comments about the International Women’s Day in general, with women stating that they didn’t understand why we should be celebrating women for a whole day of the year and not men, especially if we were aiming for equality. Well ladies, IWD is all about women’s RIGHTS. And, if I am not mistaken, there is still a long way to go before they are on equal grounds with the rights that a white male benefits from. I mean, the current US president is someone who once claimed that it was OK to grab a woman by her pussy, because, you know, all women can’t resist that. So, yes, we have a long way to go.

And I do get that certain people have a more privileged status in life than others (I know for a fact that I have been treated better than others in many a situation because I am white), but that doesn’t mean we need to hide inside this bubble and pretend that others are not suffering. I can also list many examples of how I have been treated badly because I am a woman, or promoted as some kind of toy. It’s depressing, and I will continue to fight for equality, for all of us, worldwide. I think that it is so important to always look at the bigger picture, because we all have different experiences, but in the end we are all in this together. If someone refuses to look at the plight of others then they are technically agreeing that discrimination is OK. And it’s not. There is still a huge amount of discrimination in this country, and this administration is doing its best to create an even bigger divide. I think that it is our civil duty, even as immigrants, to fight it.

As I move slowly towards the third trimester of this pregnancy (three more weeks now, how on earth did that happen?!), my other half and I have been wondering how we are really going to swing a move elsewhere again. We have both lived in the US for over a decade now, and while it was so easy to hide among everyone else in NYC, we stand out a lot more over here. There really is no place to hide (possibly the mountains, but I don’t want to hide). Moving to England seems like such a daunting process, and moving to Mexico is not something that Cesar even wants is to contemplate. I understand that, my experience of Mexico was that of a tourist in an idyllic beach location, his experience is that of growing up in a small town where his father was long gone into the bowels of the US, and his mother had to work three jobs to make ends meet. We aren’t well-off, so we wouldn’t be moving into a beautiful villa and living the life of rich expats, sending our kids to private schools. We barely make ends meet here, so what are our prospects elsewhere? I have Canadian citizenship too, and while Canada has some wonderful plus sides, it is also becoming increasingly expensive to live there. We also have to figure out how Cesar can finally divorce the person he married years and years ago and hasn’t seen for over 10 years, especially as she now lives somewhere in the US and we have no idea how we can serve papers to someone who we don’t know how to find. Divorce is tricky, makes me kind of really happy that I never gave into the temptation of marrying anyone here. Granted, I will be marrying Cesar, but that’s it, there is no one else for me!

We have been making baby steps though; the girls’ British passport applications are now in process, and once we get those back we will do the US and Mexican ones. The British process is the lengthiest one as they are all processed in the UK, and cannot be done anywhere here. This means that you need to send original birth certificates and passports (mine) via mail and keep your fingers crossed that everything arrives safely. Of course, you can spend $50 plus to ensure that they do, but I don’t have those types of funds in addition to the money spent on the passports! US and Mexican passports can be done in a day by appointment, but I have heard that for the Mexican passports one has to leave original birth certificates with the consulate and only gets duplicates back (important to know, especially if you only have one original copy).

It always interests me to hear the perspectives of others who live outside of the US on what is currently happening in this country… Do you feel scared? Does it seem like it’s not as bad as people are saying it is? (It is, never doubt that). We are currently looking at severe cuts in our medical insurance, something that I will bring up next month, and if there is anything else you would like to hear about please let me know! I have a different perspective than others because I am an immigrant with a multi-ethnic family, but I also know that I can be pretty open-minded to what is going on around (although I can’t bring myself to discussing anything with Trump supporters anymore because everyone I have spoken to has no idea what they are talking about). This may be the land of the free, but this freedom is beginning to feel more like a noose than anything else.

Written by Jade

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