"SHUT UP!" "Go back to where you came from you wetback!" I stood there as their words pounded against my ears. I watched the teacher rip the two boys apart, fists and faces smeared with blood. i felt offended by the word, but more offended by the reaction to that word. How would ripping his face open for those words he said, fix anything? Mi padre también derramo sangre, no dé la cara de otro, sino sobre el campo. Sangre de sus manos, manos endurecidas de hora tras hora de trabajo. He poured sweat from his forehead into everything he did. Not so that some punk could give his people a bad name. Trouble- makers, criminals, gang-bangers, no somos esas cosas, somos los descendientes de hombres y mujeres quienes sacrificaron sus vidas para que podamos conquistar el mundo. My father is a real man, my parents are heroes, well at least to me they are.. They fought a war against poverty discrimination, hatred.. and guess what they won! But listen... to even have the chance to suffer through this war, they first had to earn it. They had to battle a malignant desert; who like a tumor grows and grows, daily consuming the hopes and dreams of fathers, mothers, and brothers.
Standing on the riverbank my father stare down a his feet as is dirty sunk into the mossy green mud. He looked up and out into the desert of a strange and foreign land.... a land you and I call Texas. And out there in the far distance was a faint red light, a light, a light tower which marked a town. A light which marked opportunity, a light that held his American dream. Con solo su familia en su corazón, entro al desierto determinado a triunfar. The harsh and unrelenting terrain laughed at his thin shoes, poking and stabbing his feet as he walked. Keeping the red light in sight he continued to move forward. His stomach twisted and turned in painful hunger, and he became exhausted, walking endlessly with no water. Yet he took one agonizing step after another, towards the goal that held his future. The red light grew closer day by day but my father began to grow feeble and weary. His body felt heavy, pulled down by chains of despair, the sun beat on him with every step, the nights gave no shelter, biting at his hands and face with bitter frost, he was losing the battle. The treacherous desert slowly at him. Lost, the days and nights began to tease giving no promise of hope. But still in the distance, he saw hope for he and his family, the light tower promised him a bed, with an actual mattress. Le prometía comida, agua, y una nueva vida, una vida mejor. Y el mayor premio, era la oportunidad de convertir su sueño en realidad de darle a su familia algo más. Mesmerized by these promises he fought and the glowing red light grew brighter, and the opportunity waiting for him, was becoming a reality. The light tower grew closer and closer, emanating ever so bright in his eyes. Barely able to stand my father took the last few steps and stood in front of this tower, he had made it! And although his struggles had not ended, he now had a hold of the opportunity he desired so much.
Because of the journey my father took, I now have the chance to embark on my own. It is my turn to pursuit my own dream, my own light tower. I thank him for giving me the opportunity to find my own light tower. I thank him for giving me the opportunity to find my own red light, and follow it with the same desire and passion he strongly bore. Emulating his diligence and determination, I will cross my own desert, which stands between my own dreams. My dream my not be the same as his, and my desert may not hold unrelenting miles of hunger, fear and exhaustion, but that’s because the endured all of this so I wouldn’t have to. And now I will work just as hard as he did. Keeping my glowing light in focus mesmerized the promises it holds. No matter how many rocks poke at my feet I will keep walking. My rocks.. the stereotypes that shadow Latinos, and the poverty that holds us back from accomplishing our dreams. These rocks reach and grab at my feet trying to trip me and stop me from moving forward. I will not let stereotypes detain me, nor will I allow poverty to hold me back from pursuing my light tower. Taking one step at a time I will kick the rocks blocking my path. No matter how weak and weary I grow, I will not give up, because he did not cross that merciless desert only to have me quit. I will strive to cross my desert, and I will not allow it to swallow me whole. Though my father does not deserve to be insulted with degrading words for what he did, those words do not embarrass me, I am proud of what my father did. The word “wetback,” does not put me down! It makes me proud! Proud to look at my father and see the great man he is. He made it against all odds. His American dream, to give his family opportunity. He knew it could be done, and he did it. We are more than what people perceive us to be. All it takes for change, are a few ordinary people, we are those people! We will be the ripple effect of doctors, lawyers and astronauts! I thank my father, for the journey he took, for permitting me to take my own journey and to follow my own light.