Reflections on Race: Sophia Vargas

The topic of race, I say with great pain, is like a bonsai. We have tried to grow it for simply ornamental reasons yet have artificially dwarfed it. We try to suppress our race, saying that we can only achieve a post-racial utopia when we become blind to race, when we do not even recognize it. But why? Let it flourish. Be proud of your race. Stop trying to blend. Stop ignoring it. Stop being blind to it. I am Hispanic. I am the daughter of immigrants, and I feel a great affinity to my roots. I am a first-generation American and—to some extent—I feel like a pioneer in many of the things I face in my country.

I have never felt discriminated against or at a disadvantage, but I am not a stranger to the obstacles that immigrants face. I am not a stranger to the fact that my father has lost job opportunities because he does not speak the language nor to the emotional turmoil that stems from being separated from family, friends, culture, and heritage.

This country has given me many vital, transcendental, and incredible things. I am well aware of the great privilege that comes with being born here, an opportunity that my parents gave me, an opportunity they gave me because they thought that the greatest thing they could ever give me in life was to be born in America. A country of possibility in which few are grateful for their privilege. A perspective that is especially fomented by immigrants.

A stereotype that exists in America is that Hispanics have come to benefit off the work of others or to ruin this country. But, my race has worked hard in the hardest jobs with the least compensation, yet our country sees us as usurpers. As people who came to rob the jobs of true Americans. But I would say we came to do the jobs others will not take. We have created wealth but have profited from none of it. We have brought our love for the land and for agriculture. We have come to the kitchens of America to cook and create a new culture.

The Hispanic community’s prioritization of work has left us behind in education. In nearly every AP class, I look around and never see a single other Hispanic student.

Hispanics have been immigrating to the United States since before the inception of Ellis Island. We did not arrive in ships across the Atlantic or the Pacific. We did not

arrive at grand ports. We came walking. We came through the back door. We came in the shadows, in silence. We cannot stand up and cry for our rights because often times we have none.

Yet, I feel privileged because I am first-generation, because I feel a strength that my parents planted in me, a dream.

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