I had promised myself I wasn’t going to cry today—I’ve done plenty of that this year between having twins, going through postpartum without any physical help and living through a pandemic that derailed our lives and finances. But then Kamala Harris made her speech accepting the nomination for VP and I’m a puddle of tears.
Let me start by saying that I’m an immigrant. I came from Argentina and my family is a long list of immigrants coming from all over Europe. I can’t vote in the upcoming election, so I had the Democratic Convention playing in the background just to keep me awake while I pumped for the millionth time of the day. My American husband was way more into it, listening carefully to all those who spoke. Ironically, when Kamala Harris came on, one of our girls started crying so he ran upstairs to soothe her, leaving me alone, one-on-one, with Harris.
I held it together until she spoke about her immigrant parents—how they met, how they took her to political rallies when she was a little baby, and how proud they would be of her right now, especially her mother who passed away from breast cancer (which is what brought her to the U.S. in the first place, to find a cure for the disease).
In her speech, Harris said, “I keep thinking about that 25-year-old Indian woman—all of five feet tall—who gave birth to me at Kaiser Hospital in Oakland, California. On that day, she probably could have never imagined that I would be standing before you now speaking these words: I accept your nomination for Vice President of the United States of America.” And that’s where I couldn’t hold the tears back any longer.
I left my own country a decade ago and came to the U.S. to study, just like her mom, with the dream of changing the world for the better. I’m not a biologist, but a journalist, and I believe in telling everyone’s story. I came here looking for a better future for myself, also, because despite having grown up on the other side of the world, I truly believed in the American dream.
And it has been a dream—for the most part—being here. I got a degree and found a job that sponsored my work visa. I also met my husband and had three children, and together we have blended our cultures in our everyday lives. My son asks for ‘agua’ instead of water, loves to make empanadas from scratch with his dad and knows all the letters to most of Pitbull’s songs (his choice, not mine!).
Most days I don’t even think about these little things that I love about our family. Other days, when I turn on the news, I am reminded that some people think I don’t belong here. That my children, despite holding American passports, don’t belong here. And it breaks my heart to pieces.
When Harris mentioned her mom, it made me cry because I saw myself in her mom. Coming here with nothing but hope, to study in a language that was not my own, to pursue a dream that I couldn’t in my home country, eventually falling in love and building a family. It made me cry because my children could one day be where Harris is right now. My children, with their cafe con leche skin, a term I invented to describe the blend of my Italian olive genes and my husband’s white English genes. It reminded me that they belong, that even when I get yelled at to “go back to your country,” this is my children’s country. And I will keep making all the sacrifices I need to ensure they have the absolute best life they can.
It goes well beyond politics and parties—it’s only a feeling a mom can understand. So even though I promised myself not to cry anymore this year, these tears are welcomed. And I hope someday my children will understand everything we did as parents, and speak as highly of us as Harris did of hers. Even if it’s at our dinner table during a Thanksgiving or Noche Buena toast, and not at a convention accepting a VP nomination (though who knows!).